What Martinis are Like in the Mirror Universe
Having done a post on martinis, I thought I’d do a quick one on the Manhattan. The reason for the title and image is that it is sometimes described as the mirror image, or opposite, of the martini.
A martini is made of gin, vodka, or both (white liquors par excellence), and dry vermouth, and is garnished with a green olive.
The Manhattan is made with rye whiskey traditionally, or nowadays more often with bourbon or Canadian whiskey (pretty much any brown whiskey except Scotch or Irish whiskey), sweet vermouth, and a dash or two of bitters (usually Angostura), and is garnished with a maraschino cherry.
In short, the martini and the Manhattan are inverses of each other: the one with white liquor, dry vermouth, and a savory garnish, the other with brown liquor, sweet vermouth, and a sweet garnish.
The ingredient with no mirror image is the bitters in a Manhattan. Of course, as I discussed in my martini post, some versions of the martini, especially those striving to re-create the Vesper, do use bitters. This is not standard, though. My suspicion is that the bitters are to cut the sweetness, since the other dis-analogy between the two drinks is the proportions of liquor and vermouth. For a martini, liquor to vermouth should never be less than about 4:1, though even that is “wet” by today’s standards (as I said in the last post, I go for 8:1, usually no less than 6:1). For Manhattans, whiskey to sweet vermouth is more often 2:1 or 3:1 (though it can be made in a more martini-like proportion). Sweet vermouth is very sweet, and in the lower proportions (that, is the ones with less whiskey and more vermouth) used, the vermouth could be nearly overwhelming (to say nothing of any syrup seeping in from the cherry). Thus, my assumption is that the bitters help even it out a bit.
I drink more martinis than I do Manhattans, but they’re not bad at all, and I’ve had my share of them, too. Given the amount that Dr. McCoy and Captain Kirk are shown drinking in the old Star Trek series, I’m sure that it was through observation of their drinking habits that Mirror Spock first became suspicious!