Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Get me a Manhattan, Im Starving..!

Before I start, I would like to apologize for taking so long to write a new article. I have  recently been suffering with a severe case of writers block and so I had to resolve to drinking excessively to get some inspiration. I then however, found myself dismissing everything as rubbish when I sobered up...I am sober this should make sense!

My subject this week occurred to me whilst I was drinking a Manhattan in a lovely bar in Berlin. It is the drink I tend to resort to when Im not too sure of the bar, or the bartender to be more precise. Its a drink that I can instruct anybody to make, to my taste and I find that it is a good way to dip your toes in the water, so to speak!

When I order a Manhattan, I request that it be made with Rye Whisky (Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, 13yrs, when available) Carpano Antica Formula and served in a Bitters coated glass. 

Thats how I like them (Not how I make them!)

It is certainly different to what I believe is the first published recipe from Byron's 1882 "Modern Bartenders Guide" but that leads to my point...There are only a handful of places here nowadays where you can sip a Julep from a Silver Cup or have a Negroni served with a sugar coated rim, as originally served in Bar Casoni, Florence.

"Is it almost impossible to get a true classic cocktail?" 

At the moment, I see a constant influx of Bartenders becoming more and more obsessed with Mixology, Molecular Mixology and "Trying to be smart-ology." 

I find it's nothing more than disappointing when I am served a drink that contains so many ingredients, that it manages to introduce itself to me before I even take a sip!

The question we (Bartenders) should all ask is; 

"Has the Prestige of Classic Cocktails been lost in the recent boom of Over-Enthusistic Bartending?"

Please feel free to log your opinions as I am intrigued as to what is the common view towards todays "Twisted Classics."

Until next time....



  1. first of all do i think that what you are saying is kinda contradicting. do you want every bar stick to one specific recipe which can be considered as the true classic? but when you come to the bar you want an entirely different cocktail. no need to complain there!?
    and obviously its not impossible to get a true classic, since there are at least a handful cabable bars as you are saying. but it might be too optimistic to expect a sugar rimmed negroni in every bar. simply because not ever bartender has that kind of be honest i never heard about it either. but thats why i love my job. its a constant process of learning. please remember your perception of a good drink when you started bartending and compare that with today. get my point? there is certainly a lot of room for improvement in a lot of bars, but a lot has changed already for the better.
    so the prestige hasn't actually been lost but gets rediscovered by very enthusistic bartenders around the globe.

  2. kid-holger is right: bartenders all over the globe are still on the look-out for classic knowledge.

    It'll take a while until all bartenders start off their career with an edition of Jerry Thomas' Bartender's Guide and some other reprints.

    But just think back what kind of knowledge was available out there 5 years ago, and where we're now. It's been a landslide! And it's still going. And especially this here, the web, is one of the main reasons it will keep up momentum.

    And as we're speaking: what's your source for the sugared rim?

  3. I think you both have valid points...and I think I may have worded my blog a little badly. I was not implying that I EXPECT a true classic in every bar...My blog was simply inspired by a menu I saw recently, that had Classic Cocktails listed with "un-classic recipes." As Helmut said, "All aspects of Cocktails and Mixed Drinks have changed dramatically over the last few years," including the fact that more and more people are starting to drink them. It is just my opinion that if you are going to entertain people with drinks, especially the foundation drinks of our trade, then they should at least be the correct recipes. Im sorry if I offended anybody, I was certainly not implying that modern bartenders are not up to scratch....I should have made my point a little clearer.

    Dear Helmut,
    Firstly, it is a pleasure to hear from you and thank you for your feedback and support.
    In response to your question about the sugared rim, my family live in Florence and when I went to visit last year, I popped out for a Negroni in a bar opposite Bar Casconi. It was there that a very old bartender told me that originally, Count Negroni's bartender used to sugar the rim of the glass as a way of flattering the Count. So that he could have a drink that looked ultimately better than anybody else's. Its not supported in any recipe's but the bartender assured me that the original Italian way was to rim the glass with Lemon juice and sugar...Even so, I have never put it on a menu due to the fact that it is not recognised as the "Classic Way" However I have suggested it to clients and it always gets a positive response. What do you think?