Something about cold weather makes me want a cocktail. Though I generally drink wine or a little vodka, winter calls for something brown. Not too sweet, but just sweet enough, chilled, but not too chilled, spicy, but not venturing into the — I am so sorry for this, but I just don't like it — vile territory of pumpkin spice. A Manhattan, made the traditional way, with rye, is just perfect.
Rye is not quite as sweet as bourbon, which makes it the right choice for a Manhattan, which also has sweet vermouth and a maraschino cherry. Pro tip: If you are ever in a bar where the bartender makes her own maraschino cherries, order a Manhattan or, for that matter, any other cocktail that will secure you at least one of those delicious cherries. They are so unlike the bright red ones from a jar that they don't quite taste like the same fruit.
Two nights ago, a bunch of us Kitchn folks met at Jack's Wife Freda, a great place in Soho with a tight menu and nothing but good choices. Fourteen of us occupied the long table in the middle of the restaurant and it was great to see so many people I had only "met" online.
Coming in from the cold and hitching both legs over a long bench to join a happy group at a family style table made this South Carolina girl feel right at home in the big city. "Jack's Manhattan" has bitters in addition to the sweet vermouth, and it was garnished with a twist instead of a cherry. It was exactly what I wanted. The glass, like a Champagne tulip, was much easier to maneuver than a standard martini glass, which often has a wide rim that leads me to dribble a little down my chin, even before my second drink. Pro tip #2: The last thing you want to do when meeting colleagues for the first time is drool.