Here, inspired by a comment on Tiny Toy Viper's Manhattan post, is the first in what will be a series of "manly" and classic cocktail recipes. In sum, they will make a totally non-exhaustive but utterly opinionated list of drinks worth drinking. Please contribute with reckless abandon.
As a threshold matter, I'm leaving off beer, because everyone knows good beer is delicious, and there are numerous commenters around who know much more about beer than I. And of course, you can't go wrong with a fine spirit unadulterated, but that might be a future post. So for now, I'm just here to drop some cocktail wisdom.
I'm starting with the Manhattan. It's simple and a classic: 2 parts rye or bourbon of your choice, one part (or less) sweet vermouth, a few dashes of Angostura bitters. Pour ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir for as close to a minute as you can wait, then strain into a martini or rocks glass and add a cherry or two—ideally, something preserved but not those nuclear supermarket maraschino cherries. If you're in a hurry you can shake it, which will make it frothy rather than clear and have bits of ice chips in it; I actually prefer it shaken rather than stirred. Just don't pour the ingredients over ice and drink it on the rocks, please.
If you want it relatively sweet and smooth, use something like Maker's Mark, Elijah Craig, or Weller. Similar but with a little more complexity: Woodford or Eagle Rare. The straightforward, firy, corn whiskey experience: Wild Turkey or Jim Beam will do the job. Rye adds a peppery note. My favorite version is made with Bulleit, which has about as much rye as you can put in a bourbon without making it technically rye, and a dash of orange bitters. Together, they add a bit of spice but not as much as making it with rye would do.
Variations on the Manhattan are multifarious, but I'll give you two worth noting. First, there's the so-called "perfect Manhattan," which uses half sweet vermouth and half dry vermouth, is a popular classic. Second, there's my favorite version: the Mezcal manhattan: made the same way as the classic, but using Mezcal—basically, smoky, often barrel-aged tequila—and chocolate and/or orange bitters instead of Angostura. If you like smoky whiskeys like the Islay single malt scotches, you'll like this.
Part 2 to follow soon.