It’s no secret that our preferred household drink is the Manhattan. Blame it on a several-season obsession with Mad Men, the waterfall of excellent brown spirits pouring from Empire State distilleries, or the oversized ice cube trays that Jim Meehan of PDT recommended a few years ago.
No doubt, this preference was also inspired by the exquisite — and surprising — history of the rise and fall of this iconic cocktail told by St. John Frizell in the launch issue of Edible Manhattan. The Manhattan is perfect in its simplicity — rye, vermouth, bitters. But also lends itself to a range of variations.
So, to add to the surfeit of year-end lists, here are the 8 bottles of liquor (and mixers) — all made in the great state of New York — that will keep you and your loved ones in Manhattans through the New Year and beyond. At times I have favored one of these local whiskeys over another. But the reality is that it’s nice to mix it up, a little Finger Lakes flavor one night, a Long Island pour another. Call it bioregionalism in a shaker.
2. A bottle of Rough Rider whiskey from Long Island Spirits in Mattituck. The more affordable and available follow-up creation to the limited edition Pine Barrens whiskey, made with Blue Point Brewery mash.
3. A bottle of McKenzie Rye Whiskey from Finger Lakes Distilling, which also makes the delicious Seneca Drums gin for all your gimlet-lovers.
5. A bottle of Channing Daughters Winery dry Vervino (variation #1). The latest addition to the American vermouth revolution, this complicated recipe is made from dozens of locally foraged botanicals — from beach rose to yarrow to nasturtium. Another excellent (and more economical) vermouth to have on-hand is Atsby.
8. Morris Kitchen syrups. From the rhubarb to the preserved lemon and grenadine, these bottles will start you down a nearly infinite range of Manhattan permutations.
There you have it. Lemons and oversize ice cubes not included. And I’m still looking for a local source of cherries in syrup. The best I’ve been able to find — beyond the occasional cocktail bar or restaurant that makes its own — are these Bordeaux-style gems from the Oregon Cherry Growers Association that contain no artificial coloring. And for those who don’t mind the hot pink of classic Maraschinos, these Washington-grown cherries from Williams Sonoma will do the trick.
All these bottles are available online through the maker, and you can find many of them at your local wine and spirits shop. And, for other gift-giving inspiration for this year and the next, you can read the full Edible staff wishlist over on Edible Manhattan’s website.