As a reward for helping out my dear friend Sarah with her new dance website she bestowed upon me this rare and ancient bartender’s guide written back in 1934. Though many of the recipes are impossible to recreate due to the now defunct ingredients they call for, there are a few simple gems which I actually had the ingredients for on hand.
One such recipe was the “New 1920 Cocktail” which looked like a worthwhile variation on the Manhattan (my all time favorite cocktail). Unlike your Classic Manhattan though, which generally calls for a 2:1 ratio of whiskey to sweet vermouth and a dash of aromatic bitters, this one calls for a 1:1 ratio of whiskey to vermouth (half sweet/half dry) and a dash of orange bitters. This half and half combination of sweet and dry vermouth in any drink is commonly referred to as a Perfect (insert drink name here, e.g. Martini, Manhattan, etc.) these days, but perhaps this book was written prior to that terminology catching on. The orange bitters are the other biggest difference, and they have the potential to match very well with the peppery rye whiskey I plan to use.
I prepared this recipe using Wild Turkey Straight Rye Whiskey paired with Noilly Pratt sweet and dry vermouth, topped off with a generous
dash drizzle of Regan’s Orange Bitters. The only liberty I took while following this recipe was to squeeze the lemon peel over a lighted match in order to further enhance, and bring out the aromatic oils of the lemon. The results were quite tasty! The drink was dryer than your typical Manhattan, but not overly so, and it had a lighter, spicier, more zesty personality than its somber, buttery, sometimes cloying brother. Don’t get me wrong, I love a balanced, well made Manhattan. This is just a nice change of pace when you’re in the mood for something a little more bright and bitter.