For a few years now, I've been modifying my Manhattan recipe with interesting effects.
It started with Jack Daniels and Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth. After a little experimentation I learned that 3 1/4 oz of Jack and 1 1/4 oz of vermouth with 2 dashes Angustora and 2 Collins cherries was pretty good. Or maybe I just didn't know any better.
Then I saw Bittercube bitters and tried substituting a mix of cherry and orange bitters for the angustora. Not bad, but not a big difference.
Then I saw a Jar of Luxordo cherries. I had experienced these in restaurants and they were definitely superior to the neon red Collins cherries. $16 for a jar, but they last for years so why not? That was a definite improvement. The Collins ones have been relegated to grapefruit garnish.
So hey, I tried better vermouth. Vya was a little better so why not the classic - Carpano Antica. YUCK! This did not work. It just did not mix well with the Jack Daniels. Too sweet maybe? big surprise that this was so bad.
So tonight I replaced the Jack with real bourbon. Nothing fancy - Jefferson small batch. About $20 a bottle. Less than the Carpano, not much more than the Jack. Stuck with the Angustora bitters. Same ratio - 3 1/4 oz bourbon, 1 1/4 oz vermouth, 2 dashes, 2 cherries. This was a revelation. A great drink. Depth of flavor. All the ingredients are recognizable. Nothing overwhelms anything else. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I may try different, similar price point bourbons like Four Roses or something, but I think I am on to something.