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A Manhattan is my favorite cocktail for a lot of reasons. I have an odd feeling that over the course of the life of my blog, I’ll probably write about Manhattans a lot. It’s one of the most versatile cocktails. There are 5 optional ingredients and 2 required ones.

Manhattan is a motif in my life. I grew up in Manhattan, KS. I went to college in Manhattan, KS. A Manhattan is one of my favorite drinks. It was the first drink that I made for me to my taste perfection. It is one of the drinks that I was known for in Manhattan, KS and has become a signature cocktail in Raleigh. A Manhattan Perfect is my idea of Manhattan’s Perfection.

Manhattan Perfect?

I realized last week when my fraternity brother Bert tagged me in a post to donate to the “Team Dockins Delta Lambda Phi Beta Mu team fundraiser for AIDSWalk in Kansas City.” I’ve written about Jason before, he was my fraternity brother who killed himself about 3 years ago. After Jason committed suicide, Beta Mu became home. It became one of the places in my life where “. . .when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” After being in Raleigh for about a year and half, I’ve realized that I know longer think of Manhattan and Beta Mu as my current home. I had this thought where if I was going to donate my money and time to a HIV/AIDS organization, I would donate to Crape Myrtle.

Raleigh has become home.

But, with some many things in life, how do you move from who you are to who you want to become? When I first moved here, I knew what I was going to do. Get a job, support Michael through nursing school, and eventually I would earn my Masters and my law degree. I had a game plan. I became a “Good on Paper” person. I had a job, a degree, a husband, and a bank account with savings in it. I let work consume me. After working 60 hours a week, all I wanted to do was stay home. I settled for fast food and bad gin and tonics, because I was someone. I was “Good on Paper,” I didn’t have to worry about being good in life. Like so many people eventually realize, boy, was I wrong.

So, now I’m learning to make Raleigh home. To find those people and places that when I go there, they have to take me in. How, do I recreate what I had in Manhattan here? And nostalgia doesn’t help. It makes you long for things that don’t exist and never did. But how do you make a Raleigh Perfect look like a Manhattan Perfect?

Manhattan Perfect

2 oz Jameson whiskey

1 oz Martini and Rossi Dry Vermouth

1 oz Martini and Rossi Sweet Vermouth

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Pour all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Stir the cocktail. Strain into a martini shaker.


I have to say this, before anything else. Do NOT garnish with a Maraschino cherry. The cherries sold in grocery stores are disgusting and poison.

This drink is not for the faint of heart. You have to like vermouth. Many people do not. As Michael says, most people don’t like vermouth the first twenty times they have it. Americans¬† have a taste for sweet and fruit instead of bitter and herbal. I’m always really unusual in that I use Irish whiskey and not a Rye like Jim Bean or Wild Turkey. Different types of whiskeys are made different ways and such can have very different flavors.


Cost per drink:

$25 for a 750 mL bottle of Jameson

$8 for a 750 mL bottle of Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth

$8 for a 750 mL bottle of Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth

$6 for a 5 oz bottle of Angostura Bitters

Total cost: $47 for everything

Cost per drink:

$2 for Jameson Whiskey

$0.32 for Dry Vermouth

$0.32 for Sweet Vermouth

$0.01 for the bitters

Total cost per glass: $2.65


As always happy and safe drinking.