When summer turns to fall in Toronto and hot, muggy evenings give way to weather that can put a chill in your bones, it’s time to switch focus from cocktails that cool you down to those that warm you up. That means brown spirits like brandy, cognac, bourbon and rye. And it means cocktails based on those spirits.
For a great autumn nightcap, there’s really nothing like a Manhattan. Mixed correctly, it’s an ideal blend of sweet, bitter and sharp flavours, the perfect complement to a braised meat dish or a chocolate-based dessert.
Like most vintage cocktails that have stood the test of time, the recipe for a great Manhattan is simple: it’s 2 oz. rye whisky, 1 oz. vermouth, and 2 dashes of bitters. From there, recipe variations abound. Some combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker before straining into a glass to enjoy. Others insist on stirring their Manhattan. The standard Manhattan recipe calls for red vermouth, which is sweet. A dry Manhattan uses only white vermouth, while a perfect Manhattan calls for half an ounce of both red and white vermouth; both these variations offer the whisky more of a starring role.
The recent cocktail culture boom in Toronto means finding a great Manhattan is a relatively simple task. For a cocktail experience as classic as the drink itself, find a seat at the Library Bar in Toronto’s storied Fairmont Royal York Hotel and enjoy a Manhattan paired with the bar’s spicy snack mix. Or head to the Black Hoof, renowned in Toronto for both their Hoof Manhattan, which sticks close to the original recipe, and the Half Oak-Aged Manhattan, which blends a regular Manhattan with a version that’s been aged in oak barrels.
If you’re in Toronto this fall, pop in to one of the city’s great bars during cocktail hour and warm up with a Manhattan.