…from the Happy Hour Bar
How you doin’? It’s Friday--Happy Hour recipe time on the Survival Guide. I wanted to offer something memorable and these recipes are perfect for accomplishing that mission. The drink is the Manhattan Cocktail—a simple mixed drink that satisfies. The garnish is Homemade Maraschino Cherries—something that is perfect for preserving the fleeting summer harvest of sour cherries in a boozy bath of sweet liqueur.
Popular history suggests that the Manhattan Cocktail originated at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the mid-1870s, where it was invented by Iain Marshall for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston) in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden.
The difference between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned is that an Old Fashioned is made with whiskey (bourbon or rye), bitters and sugar; a Manhattan is traditionally made with American rye whiskey and substitutes sweet vermouth for the sugar. A "Perfect Manhattan" adds yet another twist—half sweet vermouth and half dry vermouth.
While rye is the traditional whiskey of choice, other commonly used whiskies include Canadian whisky, bourbon, blended whiskey, and Tennessee whiskey.
2 ounces American rye or Canadian whiskey,
3/4 ounces sweet red vermouth
Dash Angostura bitters
1 maraschino cherry, garnish (homemade cherry recipe to follow)
Homemade Maraschino Cherries
The sickest I’ve ever been was at a Boy Scout camp where I was working as a cook’s assistant. I found the Maraschino Cherry Bowl in the back of the walk-in and proceeded to finish about a pound of them. I paid for it over the next 3 days. When I looked at the ingredient declaration, I was surprised at how many ingredients were not familiar to me… one was—formaldehyde--used for embalming dead pithed frogs and over-indulgent cook’s assistants. I felt like I was going to die and wished I had. The solution—make your own Maraschino Cherries.
The secret to cinching this recipe, is finding and pitting fresh sour cherries. Sour cherries are more tart, fragile and complex than their sweeter cousins. They also have a particularly short growing season. While frozen sour cherries hold up beautifully for baked desserts like pies and crumbles, they don’t work for “maraschino-ing” cherries—fresh tart cherries yield superior results.
To preserve the shape of both the maraschino cherries and your sanity, get a cherry pitter (available at your local market or Amazon) before you begin. Save some of the pits to perfume the boozy soaking liquid with their almondy aroma.
Prep time: 1 hour
Yield: about Nine (9) 8-oz. Jars.
4-1/2 pounds (about 11 cups) sour cherries, stemmed and pitted (pits reserved)
1 750-mL bottle Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
ChefSecrets: Luxardo has become the gold standard of maraschino liqueurs, so much so that it's uncommon to see a bar without a bottle on a shelf. Luxardo is an Italian liqueur that comes wrapped in an unmistakable straw jacket. It is an authentic maraschino made with an 1821 dated recipe using the Marasca cherry. It is aged for two years in Finnish oak vats. What does Luxardo taste like, you ask? It's sticky and sweet, but it has layers—a hint of alcohol burn, some vanilla and almond sweetness in the background of the cherry fruit and a slight bitter back note that's like licking a cherry pit.
Quip of the Day: “Some days the supply of curse words is not sufficient for the situation.”
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