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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Drink of the Week: Old Overholt Manhattan on the Rocks, Off Broadway

Posted By on Wed, Nov 18, 2009 at 4:30 PM

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Likewise, when you have the same drink again and again, you start to appreciate the variations. This time with a different type of whiskey, next time with a different brand of sweet vermouth or slightly different proportions. Some bartenders leave out the bitters, although this is a warrantless and shameful omission, in my opinion. (The drink, properly made, only has three ingredients. Is it really that much trouble to put all three in?) If I'm feeling sophisticated, I may sip my Manhattans up, in a cocktail glass, although this is how they end up on the floor.

click to enlarge old_overholt.jpg
Most days I prefer them with rye whiskey, as opposed to the sweeter bourbon, or even Scotch, in which case I'd be having a Rob Roy. Off Broadway only stocks one rye -- Old Overholt. Like the Busch tallboys and bottles of Miller High Life that seemed to be the night's big sellers, Old Overholt is viewed by most as more of an accommodation to financial necessity than anyone's first choice.

Reputation notwithstanding, the brand has been around for nearly 200 years, and it makes a very respectable, four-year aged, 80-proof rye. I like a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 ratio of whiskey to sweet vermouth, and the young man mixing mine went a little dry for my taste, but aside from that produced a more than passable cocktail, complete with bitters and two cherries.

Manhattans may be named for a New York borough, but to me they have the same kind of austere appeal as our Arch. Instantly recognizable, deeply familiar: Seeing it never gets old. When I drive over the river from the Illinois side at night, it rises up suddenly, glinting in the white moonlight, reflecting silver on the water, and I fall in love all over again. Others may be distracted by the newer and flashier -- that's right Lumière Place, I'm talking about you -- but no colored light display will ever steal my heart.

Alicia Lohmar is a south-city dweller and accomplished drinker, to which she credits her German ancestry and Catholic upbringing. She wrote this week's column in honor of Joe and Joesephine, whose company makes a good drink that much better.

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