Some drinks just seem to invite variation—maybe it's because the cocktail has a simple formula, and each element has a number of possible substitutes. Or maybe it's because the name (and a drink or three) just gets the creative juices flowing. The Manhattan is one of these drinks.
It's not that the classic, made with rye, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters, really needs fixing. It's just a fun one to play with, and there's more than one way to make it a good use of rye.
Moving away from the classic, there's the Perfect Manhattan, which is made with rye and bitters but also equal parts sweet and dry Vermouth. The Brooklyn is a descendent of that drink, with the rye plus dry vermouth, and a little Amer Picon (you can also use an amaro like Ramazzotti) and Maraschino liqueur in place of the sweet vermouth.
Once folks got started goofing around with neighborhood names, more drinks sprang up. There's Enzo Errico's Red Hook, with Punt e Mes and Maraschino, and Julie Reiner's Slope, which has a touch of apricot brandy. There's the Cobble Hill (from Sam Ross) with Amaro Montenegro, dry vermouth, and cucumber slices, and the Carroll Gardens (from Joaquín Simó) with Nardini, Punt e Mes, and a barspoon of Maraschino. Michael Mcilroy's Greenpoint has Yellow Chartreuse and Punt e Mes (and some versions call for both Angostura and Orange bitters), while the Prospect Park from Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli of Eastern Standard in Boston has Aperol, Maraschino, and Carpano Antica sweet vermouth. Pegu Club's Audrey Saunders made the Little Italy, stirring the rye with bittersweet Cynar and sweet vermouth.
But not every cousin to the Manhattan is named for a New York neighborhood. Remember the Maine is essentially a Manhattan with a little Cherry Heering and absinthe in the place of bitters. The Rob Roy is basically a Manhattan made with Scotch instead of rye.
Are you a fan of Manhattans and their variations? What's your favorite spin on the classic?