Think you make a good Manhattan? The enter Woodford Reserve’s Craft the Ultimate Manhattan contest. The brand’s teamed up with Esquire Magazine to find the bartenders who make the best, but the contest is also open to wanna-bes like me. Rules and the entry form are online; the deadline is Nov. 30.
So what makes a good Manhattan? The curmudgeon in me says it’s rye whiskey, but I’ve had some lovely versions made with bourbon. It became a logical substitute after Prohibition, when, according to William Grimes’ Straight Up or On The Rocks, “straight rye whiskey vanished from the American scene. Except, of course, down South, where bourbon was always preferred.
The classic Manhattan is made with two or three parts whiskey to one part sweet vermouth, but judges this contest will be looking for original names and ingredients, as well as creativity and presentation. To get you started, here’s the Esquire Manhattan created by cocktail guru and Esquire mixologist David Wondrich: 1-1/2 to 2 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon, 1 ounce Martini & Rossi red vermouth, 1/2 ounce Fernet Branca. Stir well with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and twist a swatch of thin-cut orange peel over the top.