Knob Creek is a fantastic bourbon to mix into simple cocktails like the Perfect Manhattan because it is full of flavor. The combination of this robust whiskey with both styles of vermouth is a nice way to switch up your Manhattan routine and it pairs perfectly before, after or during any meal.
Like the Martini and Manhattan, the Perfect Manhattan is very easy to mix up. All you need is a great whiskey, a bottle each of sweet and dry vermouths and a dash of bitters. Stir it all up, strain and you're done!
There are times when I think that drinks of this caliber come off as difficult or out of reach for some drinkers. That is not the case and it is one of the great myths about cocktails. When you break it down, it is a very simple drink and should take no longer than a few minutes to mix up. Go ahead and treat yourself!
Gather the ingredients.
Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Serve and enjoy!
When choosing your ingredients, consider these factors.
- The Whiskey: Knob Creek is not the only whiskey that can be used to make a Perfect Manhattan, but it is a good choice for your first taste of this drink. Choose your favorite whiskey for this cocktail. Almost any high-end bourbon will do nicely and each has their own profile. For a softer cocktail, choose something like Maker's Mark. For a spicier cocktail, try a rye-rich bourbon like Bulleit. Then again, you can always step away from the Kentucky bourbons and use a craft whiskey like Dry Fly's Washington Wheat Whiskey. Go with a spicy rye to really kick up the flavor. Hochstadter's Straight Vatted Rye or WhistlePig 100-100 Straight Rye are two great options.
- The Vermouth: In order to be a "perfect" Manhattan, the sweet and dry vermouth should be poured equally. That is the definition of perfect in the cocktail world and is the same rule that applies to the Perfect Martini. Almost any brand of vermouth you choose will make a great cocktail. Vya and Noilly Prat are favorites, but your taste may differ and some drinkers prefer a dry vermouth from one brand and a sweet vermouth from another. The nice thing is that most vermouth is relatively inexpensive, so you can shop around. One caution about vermouth: it does not have the best shelf life. Refrigerate it after opening, mark it with the date and toss it if it's been around for longer than three months.
- The Bitters: Aromatic bitters are used most often in the Perfect Manhattan and Angostura is one of the best-known brands that will never let you down. But it is good to play around with bitters. There are many companies that are producing great bitters today, both aromatic and in a great variety of flavors. Check out the offerings from Fee Brothers and try out the Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters. You might find that you enjoy Bittercube's Cherry Bark Vanilla a little bit more. Bitters make quite the impact in a small dose, so have fun with them.
- The Cherry: Those neon red maraschino cherries that are so easy to pick up at the liquor store should not make it into your bar again. They are artificially dyed and sweetened, making them a less-than-desirable addition to a great cocktail. However, you can find good maraschino cherries in natural food stores or you can make your own to keep in stock. These are cherries you will actually want to eat once the drink's gone.
How Strong Is the Perfect Manhattan?
Cocktails like the Perfect Manhattan are not weak drinks. They are, after all, mostly liquor and have only the ice dilution to bring down their strength. Be very careful with these ones.
Knob Creek is 100-proof whiskey and if you choose 18 percent ABV vermouths, that would make this cocktail around 39 percent ABV (78 proof). If you were to make the same drink with an 80-proof whiskey, it would be a little milder at just about 33 percent ABV (66 proof).