How to Make 3 Classic Drinks - Manhattan, Old-Fashioned, and Martini September 30 2011

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There is a certain element of class and style in a man who can make a real drink. And a certain lack of these men.

Amongst all the Cosmopolitans, Hurricanes, and candy flavor concoctions, there is a serious lack of ruggedness and maturity. Ordering (or making) a real drink will get you farther in just about everything.

There are many ways to impress a woman, a colleague, or any other person you might be having a drink with, and making a proper drink is key. You will appear more confident and mature with an Old-Fashioned in your hand, or as you expertly mix a Manhattan, than you will ordering a Tutti-Frutti on ice.

The Old-Fashioned.

You can’t go wrong with a drink invented in a gentleman’s club in the 1880’s, and that was a favorite of President Truman and other distinguished gentlemen.

Simply, an Old-Fashioned is a whiskey (usually bourbon) drink with bitters and sugar. There is an art to making it, though…you can’t just dump all the ingredients in a plastic party cup and look any classier than the average frat guy and his favorite keg cup.

The things you will need:

·         An “old-fashioned” cocktail glass- This is a short, round tumbler…a small rocks glass will work as well. The key is to use a drinking cup made of real glass. The kind that clinks when you swirl ice in it and breaks when you drop it.

·         A muddler- A muddler is a simple tool that resembles a small wooden club. It is used to smash, squish, and grind (muddle) ingredients in the bottom of a glass to release the flavor. Alcohol and other ingredients are then added.

·         Bourbon- Some prefer to use brandy or other kinds of whiskey, but a true Old-Fashioned is made with bourbon.

·         Bitters- Just a few dashes of this is needed. Some prefer the taste of orange bitters.

·         Sugar cubes- Don’t cheat, sugar cubes are classier than the grainy stuff.

The Method:

Place a sugar cube into the glass with a dash of water (some use seltzer) and muddle it to dissolve the sugar. Drop in an ice cube. Add three dashes of bitters, a twist of lemon, and a jigger (measures a shot and a half) of bourbon. Stir gently.

There are some small variations or minor touches that some people prefer. A maraschino cherry dropped into the drink, the small metal stirring spoon served still in the glass, or a splash of lemon-lime soda can make it your own.

The Manhattan.

This one predates the Old-Fashioned by a decade or so, and you might be surprised to learn that it originated in Manhattan. Ok, maybe not…but it is a classic drink that every bartender should be able to make.

There are only three things you need for a properly executed Manhattan.

·         Rye whiskey (if you are from the South, bourbon is an acceptable substitute).

·         Sweet vermouth

·         Bitters

Chill your martini glass (the triangle-shaped one with a stem), and toss a few ice cubes into a tall glass or shaker.

Into the shaker with the ice go a jigger of the whiskey, half an ounce of the sweet vermouth, and a couple dashes of bitters.

Stir. Don’t shake, it makes the drink cloudy and weakens the flavor.

Strain it into the martini glass and garnish it with an orange twist. Some swear that a cherry belongs in this one, but it is a matter of taste. Most bartenders shudder at the thought and will inform you quite haughtily that a chemically altered piece of fruit has no business in a gentleman’s drink.

Variations of the drink include substituting the rye whiskey for brandy, or the sweet vermouth for dry vermouth. Again, it is a matter of taste.

The Martini.

Ohhh, the Classic Martini.

This one is the Holy Grail of distinguished gentleman’s drinks, and there are so many variations that there are books on that subject alone. The original, though, is still considered the best.

It is classy and elegant, and surprisingly simple to make.

All you really need to do:

·         Pour a jigger of vodka or gin (a matter of preference) into a shaker with ice.

·         Add a dash (just a dash, no more) of dry vermouth.

·         Stir it gently.

·         Strain the mixture into a martini glass.

·         Garnish it with an olive speared on a toothpick.

Why stir?

The liquor is less clouded and diluted if you stir, and you do not have bits of ice floating in the drink. Clarity in a martini is often as sought-after as the same quality in a diamond. Some people, however, prefer the taste of a shaken martini.

Variations include adding olive juice to the mix (a Dirty Martini), a cocktail onion in place of the olive, and different kinds and amounts of vermouth. Some leave it out entirely.

Enjoy yourself.

There are nights that you just want a cold beer in a plastic cup. But for those other nights when there is a woman to impress or a boss to schmooze, knowing a few classics will set you apart from the rest. Being able to mix and serve them without cheating? No contest.