My friends and I like playing a game called “What’s your favourite cocktail” with bartenders when we go out. And, it’s as simple as it sounds. If you don’t have a hankering for a specific drink, then you let the decision lie in the hands of the bartender by asking them to make you their favourite drink. Since the small bar licence regulations changed, Perth has cultivated some of the best cocktail makers and it makes the game so rewarding! Often, they’ll make you the most amazing concoction, not off their lists…just because they love the creativity of it. Mixing different flavours to create something unique. It’s so much fun!
A common question back, to make sure they make you something along your taste lines is – what do you normally drink. Fair enough. Giving an Old Fashioned to a Cosmo drinker is not going to make you popular.
I have a few different answers, depending on what style of drink I’m leaning towards that night, but my most common cocktail is the Manhattan. A Manhattan is a mix of Rye Whiskey, sweet vermouth and a cherry. I am a sucker for that cherry. It’s a punchy, strong drink that relies on the quality of the ingredients, because there’s only a few of them. You can’t hide inferiority behind sweet mixers and sugar syrup.
Vermouth has an annoyingly short shelf-life. Once opened, it should ideally be used within a few weeks. Which, for the home bar, isn’t really ideal. But, Vermouth is a form of wine spirit, fortified and aromatized with herbals to get it’s flavour and sometimes hide inferior wine (I learnt all this at one of The Classroom's Spirit Faculty's!). In this version, instead of Vermouth, I use a Muscat. Which is also a form of fortified wine but is more of an after dinner drink than an aperitif and relies on raisoned grapes for it's flavours. Monty’s Fine Old Muscat is from my favourite winery – Cape Naturaliste, and it does the job here making this Manhattan a Mont-hattan. This Muscat is aged in oak, and the fermentation is stopped using cognac which gives it a delicious smokiness that really plays well with the rye. For the rye, I've gone for Rittenhouse as it's my go-to "top-shelf" rye.
As a side note - the only martini glass I own is a novelty plastic one I got when I went to see Wicked the musical! Hence the disco photos!
1 1/2 shots rye whiskey
1 shot Monty's Fine Old Muscat
2-3 dashes Angosturra bitters
Fill a shaker with ice. Add the rye, muscat and bitters. Add the lid, shake then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cherry (and eat another couple whilst you make it!)
As another side note - this drinks really well with spiced nuts as pictured. But possibly even better with Chilli Lindt Chocolate.