Four Manhattans You Should Try

Washington's best twists on the enduringly swank cocktail

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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. 

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.