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MM XII: Dick Bradsell's Manhattan
Mixology Monday: Whiskey

When it comes to cocktails in London, and how they are made, you can almost certainly expect that Dick Bradsell has had some influence. This month's Mixology Monday is about "Whisk[e]y", and so I have chosen to write about the Manhattan Cocktail, and Dick Bradsell's influence on how it is made in the English Capital, and the country as a whole. The main difference that Dick Bradsell advocates in his Manhattan recipe is the use of Maraschino syrup; And by syrup, I do not mean liqueur, I mean the sugar syrup that is contained in jars of Maraschino cherries. Now where did Dick Bradsell get such a strange idea, you may be wondering, to put Maraschino syrup into such a venerable cocktail as the Manhattan? The story that Dick told me was of a trip to Kentucky that he was taken on, paid for by appreciative spirit reps. While in the Kentucky, Dick was taken into a restaurant and was assuredly informed that he was about to taste the best Manhattan cocktail he would ever taste in his life. Dick was skeptical, but ever the gentlemen Mr. Bradsell drank the libation out of courtesy, and was thus introduced to the Manhattan recipe that he was to make his own. It should be noted that this is technically a Bourbon Manhattan. Dick Bradsell's Manhattan Recipe. 2 shots Maker's Mark, 1 shot Martini Rosso (Sweet Vermouth) 2 small dashes of Angostura Bitters. dash (circa. 10ml.) of Maraschino Syrup (from the jar) Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass, which has been filled with ice; Stir thoroughly, as you would a Manhattan or Martini, and then stir thoroughly again. For

the garnish, freshly cut an orange twist, and squeeze the orange oils out of the twist onto the surface of the drink; Add a Maraschino Cherry. Now, some Cocktail purists might be shaking their heads at this recipe, especially at the mention of sugar syrup, from the cherry jar; But the truth is that there is nothing new, or strange, about syrup in a Manhattan cocktail; Early recipes for the Manhattan all contain syrup, as well as dashes of Maraschino [liqueur], Curacao, and even Absinthe. The Manhattan is a truth cocktail [spirit, sugar, bitters, water], with Sweet Vermouth added to it. Most peoples idea of what constitutes a Manhattan is based on how they themselves were taught or what they read in some, not very well researched, cocktail book. Back to the Bradsell story, after drinking his Manhattan in the restaurant, Dick decided to belly up to the bar and ask the bartender there what the recipe was for the Manhattan, but the bartender refused to tell, not even money would tempt the recipe from him. The ever-resourceful Mr. Bradsell decided that he would get that recipe, regardless of what the bartender thought, so he turned his cunning to the waitress, who was to be tempted by financial means, and who thus procured the recipe for Dick, and London. The exact identity of the stubborn bartender who would not part intentionally with his Manhattan recipe was never revealed to me by Dick, believe me I tried asking several times, but I never gave up wondering who it might be. Now the only clue I had was that he was referred to as "the Greatest Bartender in Kentucky", which leads me to believe that it might have been Max Allen Jnr [deceased]. According to the Woodford Reserve website, Max Allen Jnr's recipe for the Manhattan included Grenadine syrup, not Maraschino Syrup, and the reason for the use of Grenadine syrup is quite startling, the redness of the syrup was used to correct the colour of the cocktail when it was made by the jug! The darkening of the gallons of pre-mixed Manhattan cocktail caused by the use of Angostura Bitters was simply corrected with Grenadine for cosmetic reasons. Was Max Allen Jnr the bartender who refused Dick Bradsell's request for his Manhattan recipe? We may never know, unless Dick Bradsell decides to cough up the information. As noted already, Dick uses Bourbon in his Manhattans, which technically leads to them being termed Bourbon Manhattans; What then as you "supposed" to use in a Manhattan cocktail? Most people when told Rye Whiskey will reach for their stock of Canadian Whiskey, however this would be incorrect. The Rye Whiskey that should be used is in fact American Rye Whiskey. Once again this leads to another question; What is the difference between American and Canadian Rye Whiskey? Well, by law American Rye Whiskey must contain a minimum of 51% rye in its mashbill [recipe for making whiskey], the Canadian Rye whiskey, on the other hand, does not even need to contain Rye, it just has to appear to. In truth, Canadian Rye Whiskey is a blend of actual whiskey with NGS [Neutral Grain Spirit]. NGS is cheaper to produce than actual whiskey, and it is used in blended whiskey to stretch the "good stuff", and also tame the flavour profile of the product so that it appeals to the widest general audience.

The reason why a lot of people assume Canadian whiskey is to be used in Manhattans is also down to a few factors, the first being prohibition, between 1920 and 1933, there was a law which prohibited Alcohol production and consumption, apart from certain exceptions [Medicinal consumption for example]. Another of the reasons why Canadian Whiskey, Canadian Club in particular, is used for the Manhattan cocktail is down to Harry MacElhone, who featured named brands in his books, also well as advertisement in the backs of the said books. Harry MacElhone was advertising Canadian Club in his books, and so combined with prohibition, and the advertisers shilling, he perverted the type of rye whiskey to be used into Canadian Club. The famous German bartender Charles Schumann also listed Canadian Club as the ingredient to use in the Manhattan, presumably taking his lead from MacElhone. Tags:
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bradsell cocktail manhattan mixology monday

Posted by thinkingbartender on February 8, 2007 12:00 AM | Permalink

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