When I turned 21 and started going to bars, I never knew what kind of drink to order. I'm pretty sure there was a period of time where I drank exclusively flavored vodka and soda (I've tried to block it out of my memory) or I would panic and just order a beer. Gradually, I started to try new things and moved from whiskey sours to Sidecars to Old-Fashioneds, and now, I'm currently in a Manhattan phase (can you tell that I'm a whiskey fan?) and when I was home in December, this was the cocktail of choice once 6 o'clock rolled around. If you can't tell by the bar cart, I do love a good cocktail – and to me, a well-shaken Manhattan is pretty much the perfect winter drink: strong enough to warm you up, but with only a few ingredients and easy enough to make in minutes. Manhattan (adapted from Food & Wine)
2 oz whiskey
1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (the classic proportion is 1 oz, but I like mine just a little sweeter)
2 dashes bitters (Angostura is recommended, but I have been loving the Cherry-Vanilla Bitters I got from my sisters as a birthday present!)
1 brandied cherry
Add first three ingredients to a cocktail shaker, then add ice. Cover and shake well for 10-12 seconds, until very cold. Strain into a coupe glass, then garnish with cherry.