The Red Manhattan Project

Starward Whisky Red Manhattan. Image via @timeforwhisky

I’m drinking before dinner on a Tuesday. It’s been that kind of day.

Specifically, I’m drinking a Red Manhattan – a cocktail in a bottle which comes from the people at Starward Distillery in Melbourne and I’d really like to hate it.

I’d like to hate it because I don’t like the idea of pre-mixed cocktails. I’d like to hate it because I like my Manhattans sharp and dry and this one’s sweet. Finally, I’d like to hate it because I’ve had a shitty day.

You probably know this, but a Manhattan is a cocktail, invented in the 1870s in (you may have guessed this bit) Manhattan. You know, New York. There are lots of types of Manhattan; Blonde, Cuban, Metropolitan, Brandy and now we have Starward’s take on the Red Manhattan thanks to a collaboration with Adelaide Hills Distillery.

The Manhattan was invented at a time when all mixed bar drinks weren’t cocktails. You had cocktails which meant the drinks had bitters in them and you had slings, which meant the drink was sweet or fruity.

Manhattans are five parts whisky, two parts Vermouth and a dash of bitters. You drink it before dinner, you add a maraschino cherry and you serve it cold and, because they have bitters in them, they are a cocktail.

So now we have a Red Manhattan.

Starward Whisky Red Manhattan. Image via Facebook

Starward Whisky Red Manhattan. Image via Facebook

When I read the name I immediately thought of the Manhattan Project – which was the name of the Atomic Bomb Project in World War II, you know the one – run by Robert Oppenheimer out of Los Alamos.

Look Oppenheimer up some time. He was complicated. A tall slim, Jewish guy with a dicky stomach, from New York, who liked riding horses, physics, to quote the Bhagavad Gita and is generally worth reading about.

So back to the name and the drink, Red Manhattan. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but if it was the title of a movie I would have thought it was about a Russian nuclear plot for blowing up New York City. Maybe starring Steven Segal or in a grittier version, Bruce Willis with Clint Eastwood as the grizzled General who’s seen it all and goes rogue to save the iconic Island.

But it’s not. It’s a drink. It’s a shitty Tuesday and I’m sitting before dinner at my dining table, with a glass full of chilled Red Manhattan complete with a maraschino cherry in it and I want to hate it.

But I don’t. It’s sweet and refreshing and a lovely pre-dinner drink.

It’s red because they have matured the whisky in red wine barrels and they have used a local red Vermouth which is complicated and tastes of stone fruit.

Maybe those kids at Starward are onto something with this pre-mixed cocktail. A glass of cold Red Manhattan on a shitty Tuesday makes the world slightly less shitty, which after all is the point of these things.

Get a bottle, stick it in your fringe and put a label on it: “Drink in case of shitty Tuesday’s”.