19th hole: The great (fuzzy) Manhattan study

Rum_Manhattan_Tequila_Old_FashionedIT’S BEEN A rough month at GottaGoGolf. We were hacked. While we’re cleaning up, we thought we’d share this little piece from the Summer issue of GottaGoGolf Magazine, from 19th Hole Editor Cheryl Stotler. Cheers!

The Manhattan is widely regarded as one of the greatest cocktails ever created, and so I wasn’t surprised to hear from my great friend Susan that she and her new man had made it their 19th hole ritual. But in their travels from golf resort to golf resort (nice life, huh?), they were finding great variance in ingredients and techniques.

It’s nice to have a barroom adventure sometimes, especially at the famous Tap Room at Pebble Beach, where they loved the rye Manhattan the bartender proudly concocted. However, when Susan finally won a match and their never-to-be-named 19th hole of choice used a fancy vermouth that turned out to be DRY (yuck!), she put me to work.

“What whiskey is best? What are bitters and what is the point? Are there different sorts of cherries and cherry juices that make a difference? Do you have a recipe to recommend, particularly what proportion of vermouth is best? And what about up vs. on the rocks?”


First, a little background. Who conjured up the Manhattan? The only facts that can be agreed upon are that the drink existed as early as the 1880s and it was one of the first cocktails that called for vermouth, predating the likes of the martini, the Rob Roy and the Bobby Burns.

Many versions of the story claim the drink was invented at the Manhattan Club, which would certainly explain the name.

The classic Manhattan called for mixing American whiskey—straight rye was probably the spirit of choice in the 19th century, though bourbon is quite acceptable today—with sweet vermouth and aromatic bitters.

After sampling several top-shelf Manhattans, served on rocks in an old fashioned glass or up in a martini glass, many things were fuzzy but one thing remained clear: The cocktail is truly best stirred not shaken.

In fact, I was told by the bartender at SolBar (Solage Calistoga) that 50 stirs (stirring as quickly as possible) keeping the mixing spoon against the glass brings the drink up to the perfect serving temperature.

Got that? Not 49, not 51…50! My preference, by far, is a Manhattan served up. If you’re a rocks gal, ask for the biggest cubes in the house, to slow dilution.

And now…




2 parts whiskey

1 part sweet vermouth

1 to 2 dashes bitters cherry/orange peel garnish


Place ice in a cocktail mixing glass. Add the whiskey, vermouth and bitters.

Quickly stir 50 times keeping the mixing spoon in contact with the glass.

Strain the drink into a martini glass.

Add 1 to 2 (or 3) Luxardo Maraschino Cherries and orange peel.

Enjoy! For recommendations on whiskeys, vermouths, bitters and garnishes, read the full feature in the Summer issue of GottaGoGolf Magazine!

–Cheryl Stotler

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