By now it is clear. This foodie-girl is a wine lover through and through. But there are occasions when a cocktail best sets the mood for an evening and, on more nights than not, you will find my husband mixing up a manhattan, sipping it pensively, slowly letting the stressors of the day melt away. I don't have to look far to determine where this love for bourbon stemmed from as my father-in-law, Larry (affectionately known as Zo), is a devote bourbon advocate. And ever one to 'kick things up a notch' Zo took a stocking stuffer from Z and I - an ice-ball mold - and created a beautiful and tasty manhattan sphere, enhancing every sip as it slowly melts, ensuring your drink stays at a perfectly crisp temperature. The Manhattan sphere is a wonderful addition but know that it is simply gilding the lilly of a classic cocktail that can stand perfectly strong on it's own. So ice-ball mold or not, bring out the bourbon and give this drink a shake. It's time to unwind!
We do love this ice-ball mold and will spend the days leading up to a party stocking our freezer with as many spheres as possible, an army at the ready for our friends and family. Zo's Manhattan ball creation begins with the bottom half of the mold. Fill with water until just below the rim. Allow to freeze until nearly set but still slightly liquid, about one hour.
Once the bottom of the mold is nearing the freezing mark, top it with a maraschino cherry, a splash of sweet vermouth, one dash of bitters and a drizzle of cherry juice from the jar. Place the top of the mold on the ball and fill with water, until almost full, making sure to leave room at the top for the ice to expand as it freezes.
Ah! Perfection in ice-ball form. Love it! The best part about the ice-ball in a cocktail is the way it melts, slow and steady, diluting the alcohol to just the right degree without taking anything away from the flavor. Not a bad $12 investment.
But enough with this ice adornment. Let's get to the heart of the matter which is a proper Manhattan. Zo and Z like to pour three parts bourbon to one part sweet vermouth over ice. They then add three dashes of bitters and a splash of cherry juice. Note - if you are using the Manhattan ice-ball I would leave the cherry juice out for this part. You'll have plenty of cherry goodness coming your way as the ice melts!
Give it your best professional bartender shake and serve either on the rocks or in the traditional sense - up high in a martini glass, sans ice. Garnish with a cherry.
Tomorrow is Zo's birthday so I am raising this glass to toast him. The absolute BEST father-in-law. I adore you Zo. Cheers!
Oh, and if you're wondering where the name 'Zo' came from, I'm sure he'd love to tell you the story over a glass of bourbon sometime... it's a good one...