How do you like your Manhattan? If you have a good answer—and many fans of the enduringly swank cocktail are very particular—head to the newly opened Jack Rose Dining Saloon (2007 18th St., NW; 202-588-7388) in DC’s Adams Morgan. It stocks 219 bourbons and 55 ryes for endless experimenting. If you’re new to the cocktail and don’t know whether you’re a bourbon or rye person, or if you like sweet or dry vermouth—or equal parts of each—consider getting acquainted with one of these four takes on the drink.
1. IL CONSIGLIERE
Where: Dino (3435 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-686-2966)
The cocktail gets an Italian makeover at this Cleveland Park wine bar. Bourbon is the star player, and it’s splashed with Cocchi Americano, an herbal-tasting aperitif similar to vermouth, and Averna, a bitters-like digestif.
2. THE FOURTH REGIMENT
Where: The Gibson (2009 14th St., NW; 202-232-2156)
Using a recipe based on a 1917 bartender’s book, this antique-cocktail den mixes equal parts rye and sweet vermouth with three kinds of bitters, including one made from celery, then finishes the glass with a burnt orange peel.
3. MY MOM’S MANHATTAN
Where: Lyon Hall (3100 N. Washington Blvd., Arlington; 703-741-7636)
At this brasserie, you can smell the autumnal house-made orange-clove bitters before the drink—whose other ingredients are robust Old Overholt rye, Dolin Rouge vermouth, and Cointreau—hits your taste buds.
4. MY WIFE’S MANHATTAN
Where: PX (728 King St., Alexandria; 703-299-8385)
Todd Thrasher’s version is inspired by the ones his wife ordered during their early dates at McCormick & Schmick’s. He uses Maker’s Mark, her preferred bourbon, but makes a sweet vermouth from Pinot Noir and his own cherry bitters.
This article appears in the October 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.