I was sent a couple of gorgeous glasses from my cousin who had split up items from my Aunt Eddie and Aunt Patsy’s estate. Sadly one of them was broken in transit so of course I wanted it more than ever. I could tell the shape of the glass and it was unique so through some research I discovered that it was called a ‘champagne coupe’ and that one of the early uses was for serving Manhattans. The perfect opportunity was at hand to feature this storied cocktail during a ‘Mad Men’ party a group of bloggers decided to throw to commemorate the final season of the television show that starts this coming week. I wanted to make a traditional cocktail of the era and I wanted it in the right glass, doggone it! Nothing else would do for this Mad Men Manhattan and Mushroom Pâté!
I searched high and low; I went online and found some by Kate Spade, she of the overpriced designer category, and others by Waterford, still overpriced but a name that I would more proudly attribute to my stemware. I finally found the perfect reasonably priced glasses by Libbey (remember, I just wanted them for a couple of photos) but I was not interested in an entire case. Drat!! Finally, feeling a bit desperate, I decided to contact my favorite restaurant and see if they had one I could borrow. I can not deny that once I get it in my head that I want something done a certain way I am most definitely a woman on a mission!
I called YaYa’s in the Denver Tech Center, a restaurant I love that was near my old home. I consider YaYa’s my own personal Cheers where ‘almost’ everyone knows my name. When I talked to Scott, the manager, he said they didn’t have any in the restaurant but he thought he had some at home packed away. His own family artifacts that he didn’t want to get rid of but also didn’t use (haven’t we all been there?). Scott offered to check and let me know. The following morning his email was like a gift, he had found his cache and would drop off a package at YaYa’s for me to pickup. Tell me, how many restaurant managers will do that for you? YaYa’s will always fix mussels the way I like them no matter what the current menu offering is and I love that but this was over and beyond. So… many thanks Scott. What? I can keep the glasses too? All FOUR of them? I already thought you the best and now my readers know why.
The Manhattan is an elegant cocktail with a rich history; some of it fabricated to lend more glory to its name but all leading to it originating in Manhattan, one of the five Burroughs of New York City. By all accounts it originated in the later part of the 19th century and has seen a resurgence often attributed to the popularity of ‘Mad Men‘ – a television show that chronicles the lives and social mores of the 1960′s in America. I’ll be honest. I didn’t expect to be a fan. Let’s just say that my parents both enjoyed a Manhattan. They were a part of that 60′s generation that drank too much and partied too hard; there were affairs and a divorce and in a real soap opera twist; a re-marriage. By them. To each other. Watching that play out on the small screen hit a bit too close to home so I kept my distance from the show for the first couple of years until a friend insisted I do a marathon with her and doggone it; I was hooked. Truth is I had also kept my distance from a Manhattan all these many years for many of the same reasons and that was another error in judgement on my part.
This is no lightweight drink. Recognizing that my taste in wine has segued from Boone’s Farm to a nice Cabernet over the years, I’m quite certain that if someone had introduced me to this cocktail those many years ago; it would have been received less than favorably. This is booze, pure and simple. Despite some controversy over where it began, one area without controversy is the continued popularity of the drink. It is still considered one of the finest cocktails ever conceived and on every bar’s list of best cocktails.
Purists (who are these people anyhow?!!) presume that the only way to create a Manhattan is with Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth and Bitters but there are those who cry sacrilege if not using Dry Vermouth. Most concede that Rye Whiskey is the liquor of choice and I love Templeton Rye but bartender choices run the gamut from Bourbon to Rye to Canadian Whiskey. For me it has to be Rye but I’m more forgiving with the Vermouth depending on tastes, personally preferring Sweet Vermouth. Bitters are seeing a huge boon in popularity right now and the choices are endless but this is a Manhattan and Angostura bitters are a must. Sometimes something is so good that you simply don’t need to mess with success!
- 2 oz rye whiskey
- ½ oz sweet vermouth
- 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
- Maraschino cherries for garnish (I’ve used my own version which are a combination of sour cherries and Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur)
- Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes.
- Stir well.
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with the cherries.
If the Manhattan is considered one of the finest cocktails ever conceived it deserves a great appetizer. While I am certain the characters in Mad Men would be enjoying a traditional liver pate, I decided to pair the cocktail with this Mushroom Paté; my take on an appetizer that I could imagine being served with a Manhattan all those many years ago when it first gained notoriety. It is rich and decadent but also something that would appeal to all of my friends including the vegetarians among them.
I’ve been making this pâté for a very long time; it was a hand me down recipe that I first enjoyed at a cocktail party I attended over a decade ago and all I could get from the hostess was that it was a combination of sautéed mushrooms and cream cheese. I’m sure I’ve made a revision to it each and every time I’ve put it together but I must say, I think this was the best. Maybe it was that extra clove of garlic?
It’s easy to prepare and can be held in the refrigerator overnight so it’s a great appetizer if you want to make something ahead of time. I actually think it’s best if given some time for the flavors to meld so try this next time you’re having a get together and want to make it easier for you…anything you can make a day ahead is a bonus.
The television saga of Mad Men is almost over and while this might be a celebration of the final season which starts April 5th, it’s sad to see it go. The Mad Ad Men and the delicious John Hamm. Truth be told I’ve become such a fan girl that I look beyond his rascal ways and just concentrate on that beautiful face. Both Don Draper and I have in common the love for a great cocktail. Well, his might have turned to lust but still, the recipe for a Dan Draper Manhattan is superb. That he likes rye, sweet vermouth and a cherry garnish too; oh Don…you really are a man after my own heart! Combined with this luscious appetizer? Perfect for that era and for your own party today!
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 12-16 oz sliced mushrooms
- 4 stalks green onion, sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 4 Tbsp Medium Dry or Dry Sherry
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 1tsp fresh thyme or rosemary
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Parsley for garnish
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat
- Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes until softened.
- Add the green onion, garlic and Sherry and saute for 3-4 more minutes til the garlic is cooked but not browned.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Put herbs, cream cheese and mushroom mixture into food processor and pulse gently until mixed thoroughly but not completely smooth.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Pack into 2 serving crocks and refrigerate for 2 hours minimum.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley and service with crackers or toast points. With a Manhattan!
In keeping with the era and our celebration; our group has rounded up a couple of gift items for a Giveaway for our readers. Make sure you join the Giveaway below for a chance to win a gorgeous martini glass (provided by yours truly!), an adorable vintage piece of Pyrex (from Carrie Burrill/Bakeaholic Mama) or a $100 gift certificate to ModCloth; an online fashion boutique with some fantastic retro chic! Come on people; let’s party like’s it’s 1960!!
Join us for a #MadMenBlogParty!
- Gin Rickey from Bakeaholic Mama
- Whiskey Sour from Pass the Sushi
- Old Fashioned from Poet in the Pantry
- Mad Men Manhattan with Mushroom Pate from Creative Culinary
- Pink French 75 from Kelly Bakes
- Sazerac Cocktail from Jelly Toast Blog
- Classic Negroni from The Messy Baker
- Gimlet from Yankee Kitchen Ninja
- Vegan French Onion Dip from The Viet Vegan
- Pimento Cheese & Crackers from The Noshery
- Chicken Salad Sliders from The Lemon Bowl
- Sidecar or Crab Rangoon from Cooking with Jax
- Fried Green Olives Stuffed with Blue Cheese from Simply Healthy Family
- Cheesy Asparagus Spirals from Comfortably Domestic
- Easy cocktail meatballs The Realistic Nutritionist
- Crab Rangoon from Cooking With Jax
- JELL-O Crown Jewel Dessert Cake from The Apron Archives
- Pineapple Upside Down Cake from I am a Honeybee