Monday, December 31, 2007

The Maple Manhattan a la Vermont

manhattanSo one of my nearest and dearest, “So Very Carrie,” moved away to Vermont a few years back and it appears as though my former Buffalo neighbor has taken root there, literally. She’s now tapping maple trees and donning sugar gloves to harness the sap from the giant trees of the North, her new kind of skyscraper. Okay, so perhaps I’m being dramatic; perhaps So Very has not entirely traded in her 3-inch heels for a 3-bit drill and the wilderness, but her pal Steve, from Northfield, Vermont does the honors from his own backyard! And this Christmas I was treated to a hand-poured bottle of the sweet stuff, which I was instructed to try both on my pancakes and (less predictably) in my Manhattans.

The Manhattan is my family drink. It’s Carrie’s family drink. And it’s the consummate taste of cocktail hour, not only in the namesake borough from which it hails (a certain island I call home), but also in the city from which I hail, the city of good neighbors, Buffalo. These neighbors and I have stirred up quite a few Manhattans in our time, but never before has the sharp bite of rye whiskey played so perfectly against the rich sweetness of—no not cherries—but of maple syrup. I’m telling you, this is a revelation worth an investment of your time. Hand-poured Vermont maple syrup may not be easy to come by ‘round your parts, unless of course you’ve got a Carrie, who’s got a Steve, who’s got a backyard that puts Central Park to shame, but it’s worth hunting down.

The Maple Manhattan (serves as many as you pour)

· 3 parts Rye Whiskey

· 1 part Sweet Vermouth

· Dash of Bitters

· Drizzle of Vermont Maple Syrup

· Twist of Lemon

Combine all ingredients with ice, stir, and pour. Up or down, rocks or straight, the Manhattan can be made to order. My Mamma likes ‘em sweet (a little extra maple syrup), my Dad, sour (a squeeze of fresh lemon juice). There’s no science to it, but I have always opted toward stirring my Manhattans in a pitcher with a mere 2 or 3 cubes of ice and allowing the ice to melt a wee bit before serving over an old-fashioned glass full of freshly popped cubes.

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