Cocktail of the Month for September

By Sid Robinson

Cocktails of the Month for September

While the weather outside still says summer, the calendar shows we’re on the cusp of fall and the transition to some cooler temperatures ahead. And with the change of seasons comes a shift in the types of cocktails that are most appealing. Specifically, that means a transition from light refreshing drinks, to those that feature dark distilled liquor. There’s no better place to start than with a couple of classic whiskey cocktails – the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned – along with a few other variations. These are heavy on the alcohol, so, as always, please be careful and drink responsibly.


The Manhattan

The Manhattan is one of the oldest cocktails. Its origins trace to several different variations surrounding the election of Samuel J. Tilden as governor of New York in 1874. The one consistency in all the stories is that the cocktail was created at the Manhattan Club. One of the most famous drinks ever, the Manhattan appeared in the 1876 second edition of Professor Jerry Thomas’ cocktail book, “The Bon Vivant’s Companion,” and eventually rose in popularity in the mid-1880s. The original recipe called for half whiskey, half sweet vermouth and a dash of orange bitters. Today’s version has a 2-to-1 ratio of whiskey to vermouth, and is frequently as high as twice that, depending on your taste. As with with all recipes, your best bet is to experiment and proportion to your own preferences.


2 ounces straight rye or bourbon whiskey

1 ounce Italian sweet vermouth

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Pour all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry (Luxardo or other premium maraschino cherries preserved in liqueur are preferred over standard marischino cherries).

For a dry Manhattan, use dry white vermouth and garnish with a lemon peel.

For a Perfect Manhattan, use ½ ounce each of dry and sweet vermouth and garnish with a lemon peel.

These are all "offspring" of the Manhattan:

Rob Roy

Replace the rye or bourbon with a blended Scotch whiskey, and use orange bitters and garnish with an orange twist.



Replace the rye or bourbon with Irish whiskey. Orange bitters and an orange twist also work.

The Old Fashioned

Well before Prohibition, cocktails had already begun to evolve. So much so, that one of the original concoctions was already being passed over by other new drinks. Around the mid 1860s, the people who loved the original mixtures began referring to them as “Old Fashioned” cocktails. Today the cocktail remains a staple among fans and is a throwback to bartenders more than a century and a half later.

The Old Fashioned Old Fashioned


2 ounces straight rye or bourbon whiskey

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

1 sugar cube or a well-filled barspoon of superfine sugar

1 lemon peel

A splash of water or soda

Muddle the sugar and the Angostura bitters in the splash of soda until the sugar is dissolved. Add the whiskey and the ice and stir. Garnish with a fresh twist of lemon peel.


The New Old Fashioned (post Prohibition)


2 ounces straight bourbon or rye whiskey

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

1 sugar cube or a well-filled barspoon of superfine sugar

1 lemon peel

2 orange slices

2 maraschino cherries splash water or soda

Muddle the sugar, bitters, one orange, one cherry, and a splash of soda in the bottom of an old fashioned glass. Remove the orange rind, add bourbon and ice and stir thoroughly. Garnish with a fresh orange slice and a cherry (again, I prefer Luxardo maraschino cherries to the comparatively bland bright red candied versions).


BBWD (Bourbon Beth Will Drink)

You won’t find this in any recipe books. While bourbon is wildly popular today, it is an acquired taste. Such was the case with my wife Beth, who was not a bourbon fan. So I developed a simple, refreshing cocktail that’s easy to make and easy to drink. Beth named the drink because it’s definitely one she’ll drink (and she enjoys).


2 ounces bourbon

4 ounces Diet 7-Up

3 dashes Fee Brothers aromatic bitters

Pour bourbon and 7-Up over ice. Add bitters and garnish with orange peel, twisting the oils from the peel before adding to the glass.