Manhattan, the cocktail

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First I have to admit that I don’t drink Manhattans, the whisky-based drink named after Manhattan, allegedly created in New York City’s Manhattan club in 1880. I just don’t like whisky or any of the brown liquors. However, my husband does.

According to people who consider themselves Manhattan connoisseurs, this is the best Manhattan ever. Here’s the story.

My husband and I met friends at a nice restaurant in Oklahoma City for a special birthday event January of 2019. The restaurant is called Vast, located 726.2 feet above ground on the 49th and 50th floors of the Devon Energy building.

The birthday girl and I ordered pretty typical drinks. The husbands chose Manhattans. And, they continued to order them, being kind of obsessed with them.

Once home, I gathered the ingredients for the Vast Manhattans to surprise my husband on his upcoming birthday, which included Old Forester whisky and Punt e Mes vermouth. One of the ingredients is Strong tonic, a tonic syrup made in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

I contacted the Strong tonic people and asked if they knew the restaurant’s recipe, and I received it!

I told Glenn that the Vast recipe mentioned Old Forester and not Rittenhouse Rye, and he said, “Old Forester is great!” Oddly enough, his name was Glenn Forester!

I substituted Old Forester for the Rittenhouse rye in his recipe. And, to make it just like the restaurant’s bar, I did a sherry rinse, using Harvey’s Bristol cream, and served each cocktail with an Amarena cherry.

The night of my husband’s birthday, these same friends celebrated with us. Let me just say that these are strong drinks! But I won’t go into details.

Evidently the proper glass for a Manhattan is a martini glass, but I find them too top heavy. Plus I’m klutzy.

The above recipe from Mr. Forester is for one drink. Below is a recipe for 4 “hefty” drinks that can be mixed in a pitcher, which is way easier than making one at a time. Plus the pitcher can chill in the fridge before company arrives.


Vast Manhattan

16 ounces Old Forester
6 ounces Strong Tonic, original
2 ounces Punt e Mes
16 dashes Angostura bitters, regular or orange
Sherry, like Harvey’s Bristol Cream
Amarena Cherries and syrup

Have glasses in your freezer before you begin.

In a shaker, combine the whisky, tonic syrup, punt e mes and the bitters. Add some ice cubes and give the mixture a few serious swirls.

Pour a 1/2 teaspoon of sherry into each of two chilled glasses and give it a twirl; dump out excess into sink or mouth.

Strain the ice and pour the Manhattan into the glasses.

Add one or two cherries to each cocktail. I also add just a bit of syrup for fun. No one has complained yet.

I was very Martha Stewarty and placed the amarena cherries on pine sticks.

When you make a pitcher of Manhattans, you don’t really have to add ice because the pitcher can chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. But if you feel the drink is too strong, add a few small ice cubes.

I so wish I could drink whisky.

 

 

Amarena Cherry Cake

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I always have Amarena cherries on hand, because my husband loves Manhattans, and I put them in his cocktail. I’ve also used them in sangria, but never baked with them. Until now.

If you buy Italian Amarena cherries, via Amazon, the beautiful jar has a recipe attached for a cake using them, along with this terrible photo. It looks like my grand daughter made this cake!

My cake definitely turned out prettier, and more what this cake is meant to look like!

On the left, below, are the cherries I order from Amazon. Trader Joe’s also sells these cherries.

It’s challenging to describe Amarena cherries. They’re almost candied, but not really. They’re not as sweet as a Maraschino cherry. And they come in a lovely cherry syrup. They would be wonderful on ice cream, or topped on buratta!

I’ve also seen Amarena cherries in biscotti, at the blog Marisa’s Italian Kitchen. I cannot wait to make those!

Amarena Cherry Cake with Chocolate
Cake with Amarena Cherries and Chocolate

200 grams Amarena cherries, drained
2 tablespoons of the syrup
8 ounces butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup fine-grained cornmeal
1 cup powdered sugar
3 large eggs, separated
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup Grand Marnier liqueur
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt

Sift together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt; set aside. Beat butter with powdered sugar until light.

Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, until each is fully incorporated. Beat in orange liqueur and the syrup. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Beat the egg whites to a soft peak; fold in gently. Fold in the cherries and chopped chocolate until just incorporated.

Bake in a greased and floured 9” cake pan (loaf pan) at 375 degrees for approximately 65-70 minutes. (I baked mine at 350 degrees and removed it after 45 minutes.)

I’m sure by now you know that this cake is exceptionally good. How could it not be with these cherries and chocolate together?!

Warmed up, served with unsalted butter, was heavenly.

In the photo of the recipe, shown below, the name of this cake is plum cake. I consulted my friend and Italian cooking expert Stefan, from Stefan Gourmet, to help explain why it’s called plum cake when there are no plums.

“It is not necessarily a cake with cherries that is called a plum cake in Italy. Any cake that more or less follows the “quatre quarts” recipe is called a plum cake in Italy.

Originally, a plum cake is any cake that has dried fruit in it, like prunes or raisins. The word “plum” is used loosely. In Italy, plum cake is thought of as a recipe from England. I believe that nowadays a plum cake is usually called a fruitcake in England.

In Italy, the name plum cake is used for any cake that is rectangular and has flour/sugar/butter/eggs as the main ingredients.

A cake in Italy that is rectangular with flour/sugar/butter/eggs plus cherries would probably be called a plum cake, or more completely a “plum cake alle ciliegie” (literally: plum cake with cherries).”

I hope that helps! It’s still a little confusing to me. This photo shows part of the recipe.