vendredi 31 octobre 2008

My Manhattans around the world - Episode 5 : Lyon

Well, it's not the first place you'd think about for Manhattans but it's the city where I live.

I know a couple of bars that do serve Manhattans :
- at the Jonkafe, they used to make it with JD and serve it on the rocks (haven't been there for a while) : an OK drink but forgetable.
- at Le Ciel de Lyon, it's served in a cocktail glass, well done but not exceptional
- the best I ever had must have been at La Cour des Loges (though the barman used Canadian Club)

But my favorite bar for cocktails is at home. There, I can mix all kinds of Manhattans :
- the classic Sweet Manhattan (Rittenhouse Rye or Maker's Mark, sweet vermouth, The bitter truth aromatic bitters, syrup from the jar of maraschino cherries)
- or a stronger version (Wild Turkey Rare Breed or Van Winkle Rye, sweet vermouth, Orange bitters)
- and even a Daredevil Version aka The Hell's Kitchen (Bourbon or rye + Irish whiskey, sweet vermouth, aromatic bitters + Peychaud's bitter + syrup from the jar of maraschino cherries)

And that's it for the Manhattan, for now, at least.

Catégorie : Blogging_Cocktails

mercredi 29 octobre 2008

My Manhattans around the world - Episode 4 : San Francisco

Until very recently, I had never had a Manhattan in the USA. During my first trip in 2003, I got to be on the East Coast (NYC, Boston) and drank all kind of stuff (mainly beers, coffee and chemical fruit juice) but no Manhattan. Yes, even while I was in Manhattan.

So, as I went back to the USA to visit the parks of the West for our honeymoon, I had this line on my to-do-list : have a Manhattan in a cocktail lounge.

I had to wait til the very last days of the trip (not many cocktail lounges in National Parks), when I was in San Francisco. There I got to meet a cousin (Hi David!) and we went to the Clock Bar, located in the lobby of the Westin St Francis, on Union Square.
My cousin took a Chartreuse Swizzle (green chartreuse, velvet falernum, pineapple,
fresh lime) and my wife had a Hemingway Daiquiri (la favorite rhum, maraschino,
fresh grapefruit, fresh lime, grapefruit bitters).
And I treated myself with an Uptown Manhattan : maker’s mark bourbon, amaro nonino,
orange bitters, cherry brandy, served up with brandied cherries and burnt orange.
The choice of amaro instead of classic vermouth was unusual. Orange bitters were a welcome change to the classic angostura.
This Manhattan was good. My first concern was the glass didn't seem to have been pre-chilled, so my drink was warming up rather quickly. Also, Maker's Mark is not my number one choice for a Manhattan. Anyway, it must have been the most sophisticated Manhattan I ever had on my trips.

Catégorie : Blogging_Cocktails

lundi 27 octobre 2008

My Manhattans around the world - Episode 3 : Prague

It was in July 2005.
A friend (the one who had the Pina Colada in HK) and I went to "La Perle de Prague", a restaurant run by a french chef.
Before the dinner, he ordered a Brandy Alexander. And I ordered... you should know what by now.

The bar was slow, I think we were the only patrons for a while and I got to go behind the bar, just for a pic.
The Manhattan was ok but the barmaid used Famous grouse scotch while she had Wild turkey on the shelf. So, technically, I didn't have a Manhattan in Prague, but a Rob Roy.

Anyway, it was a nice bar, in a very nice city
(Yes, the weird look is one of my trademarks on photos)

Catégorie : Blogging_Cocktails

dimanche 26 octobre 2008

My Manhattans around the world - Episode 2 : Hong Kong

Hong Kong International Airport claims to be "the world's best airport".
Well, I'm not fond of airports but the place surely looked clean and secured.
In 2004, back from a trip in Vietnam, I had time to kill, waiting for my connecting flight to Paris.

I went to a bar with a friend, I don't recollect much of the details : I think my friend had a Pina Colada... and the pretty barmaid was named Jenny. And I had a Manhattan, of course.

Surely, it wasn't "world's best Manhattan" but it wasn't bad either.
A pleasant way to kill some time.
Sometimes, cocktail-drinking is just the classier version of beer-football.

(Yeah, the shirt was bought in Vietnam and I only wore it once, since it shrinked ridiculously after the first wash)

Catégorie : Blogging_Cocktails

dimanche 12 octobre 2008

My Manhattans around the world - Episode 1 : Paris

I've had more than one Manhattan in Paris. But most of them were disappointing.
In France, bourbon or rye are not the usual choice of the barman. Far too often, they make the Manhattan with scotch (as any cocktail-geek will tell you, then it's no more a Manhattan but a Rob Roy).
If you don't know much about whiskies, you might take this as pure snobbery or nitpicking. But the tastes of bourbon, rye and scotch are very different, indeed.
So, for a Manhattan, the closest thing to the genuine whisky you'd be served in France is... Jack Daniels. Well, it's a bourbon, right ? No, Sir, it's a Tennessee whisky ! There's that extra step of charcoal filtering that changes the taste of the final product.
JD is not my preferred american whisky (it used to be, back when I didn't know much about much) but the brand is very strong in France, so barmen always have a bottle on their shelves.

So, knowing that chances to get a well made Manhattan are slim in Paris, where should you go ?
Try the Harry's Bar.

I've only been there once. In the summer of 2005, I think. The main room is rather small. And there's no cocktail card. You can ask for whatever you like. Yeah, they're supposed to be that good.
I went there with an old friend, he took an Americano and I, of course, ordered a Manhattan.
I can't remember if this one was served on the rocks or not. I don't know what kind of whisky the barman used. What I can remember is that we enjoyed our drinks and even had another round. This leads me to point the secret ingredient of good cocktails : a cool place to drink and friends to share the moment.
Quite ironically, I had my digital camera but forgot to shoot my Manhattan, so I only have the pic of my friend's Americano.

Another friend has told me that the staff have been changing through the last years and this bar might not be as great as it used to be.
I'll have to go there once more, just to make my own opinion...

Catégorie : Blogging_Cocktails

mercredi 8 octobre 2008

My Manhattans around the world - Episode 0 : Andalusia

If I had to date the beginning of my passion for cocktails, it would be on year 2000, during the last trip I made as a student, before graduating.
We spent a week in an hotel in Andalusia.
At the bar of the hotel, the cocktails were incredibly cheap (it was in pesatas, but it had to amount around 2 or 3 euros...)
More surprising, they tasted good.
As the local beer (San Miguel) didn't appeal that much to me, I decided to order cocktails.
And the first one I ever ordered was... a Manhattan. My friends went with Pina Colada or Tequila Sunrise but for me, it had to be the Manhattan. The name just sounded so cool! After all, it's the place where most Marvel Superheroes live!

I can't tell if it was made with bourbon, rye or scotch. I think the barman did use Angostura.
What I can remember is it was served on the rocks and... it was strong. Sweet. But strong. And I kinda fell in love with that cocktail. (I also tried their Bloody Mary but it was atrocious.)

Well, back from this trip, I did not immediately buy all the bar-stuff to make cocktails. I even wait years before having my own shaker, then bitters, then uncommon bottles and more weird bottles.
But I think it all started with this Manhattan in Andalusia.

When I'm going to a new cocktail bar, I'm very likely to order a Manhattan. It helps me to determine if the barman knows his stuff or not.
In the few cocktail-bars of the world I have visited, I tried to have a Manhattan.
So that will be the topic of some of my next posts.

Catégorie : Blogging_Cocktails