Our favorite little liquor shop is a family-owned business called Manny’s. It’s tucked into a strip mall, not far from work. Every time I walk in and say hello, Manny, with his buzzed white hair responds with a, “Hey beautiful! How are you doing sweet doll?” I’m sure he does that for all of the ladies. Manny could be 70 years old or he could be 90, I just can’t tell. I feel like he looks good for his age, though, because he’s certainly young at heart. He still works the register, piles on the compliments, puts your purchase in a plain paper bag and warmly thanks you for stopping in.
I usually go in there during the week on a lunch break when the shop is pretty empty, besides Manny and I. One Saturday afternoon I had to stop in and Manny belted out his usual, “Hey beautiful!” and this time, several customers turned their heads to look at who he was speaking to. I’m sure they were gravely disappointed as I had whipped my hair into a messy high bun, skipped makeup and quickly slipped into jeans and a t-shirt before running errands. I think I’ll stick to weekday visits with Manny.
Lately we’ve been experimenting with rye whiskey, whiskey that is distilled from at least 51% rye and charred in new charred-oak barrels. Rye whiskey is less sweet and caramel/vanilla flavored than bourbon, but a good rye has a fruity smoothness that is ideal for an old-fashioned or manhattan. Some prefer drinking rye to bourbon for more interesting flavor notes. I have love for both, depending on my mood. Serious Eats has a nice guide to rye whiskey if you’d like to learn more.
For our manhattans, we used Russell’s Reserve 6 year rye whiskey and we hope to try George Dickel’s rye when we can locate it. I’m not a sweet fruity drink kind of girl, but I’m also not a dry martini kind of girl. When we went to the Patterson House in Nashville, I told the bartender I liked whiskey and he mixed something up for me. It was the best drink I’ve ever had. It was a bit strong, but not overly dry. I assumed there was some simple syrup to impart a touch of sweetness, but to my surprise he told me it was all alcohol. He had created a modified manhattan and the sweet vermouth is sweet and smooth without being crazy sweet or too dry. Drinks in a speakeasy-type bar are pricey, but if you’re interested in a little education on spirits based on your taste preference, it can be worth the money. I don’t care for snooty places, so get a recommendation from a friend or a blogger you trust. Of course there are good bartenders at non-trendy bars too and if you get the vibe that they really know their stuff, ask questions!
I didn’t get the particulars on the special modified manhattan, but we mixed up a mighty fine manhattan for you. You feel fancy sipping on one, but they are easy to make! I’d normally say that it’s great for the weekend, but it also improves an ordinary weeknight. I finally opened my jar of brandied sour cherries and oh man, you need to make them. I’m already planning a bigger batch next summer.