If the martini is the undisputed king of gin drinks, the Manhattan rules the whiskey ones. And though I’m utterly intransigent about how a good martini ought to be made, I’m flexible when it comes to the Manhattan. Even in its innumerable variations, the deep and dark character stays intact. With brown-liquor season upon us, it’s the drink for right now.
That said, it’s a cocktail that requires a whole host of decisions. Rye or bourbon? Perfect (composed with equal measures of sweet and dry vermouth), or just sweet vermouth? Bitters? Garnish? Rocks? My advice is to try the Manhattan every which way (just not all at once), because different versions suit different moods.