When meeting someone for the first time, he said, arrive at the bar early and order a Manhattan. He called it an internal icebreaker, and that’s exactly what it is: It marks the place in time between where your day ends and your date begins; it lets you settle in. That sitting at a dim, city bar with a Manhattan and a magazine is incredibly romantic and cool-looking is just an added bonus, though a welcome one: You are about to be on a first date, right?
But Manhattans are much more than an internal ice breaker, and though I recommend they be consumed often in dim city bars on dates (whatever the number), they by no means should stay there. In the past few weeks, I’ve made Manhattans to bottle and take to a party because I was out of beer; I’ve made them so I could pull down the rarely-used coupes up on my shelves. I’ve made a Manhattan just so I could eat the cherries. And if I were going to be within striking distance of my hometown this Sunday, I’d probably stir one up for my dad.
This cocktail can be anything to anyone—especially if you use equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, as this “perfect Manhattan” does, which unbuttons the dark, boozy collar of a regular Manhattan just the right amount. Is it perfect? I don’t know if you’ll think it is, but I might make one soon to find out.
I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.