The Key To The Perfect Manhattan, According To Amanda Freitag - Exclusive

Sometime during the mid-1800s, the classic Manhattan cocktail — consisting of vermouth, whisky, and bitters — emerged as the blueprint for many modern-day mixed drinks. And the original recipe has stood the test of time, remaining an evergreen favorite on drink menus everywhere from New York to Newcastle and beyond. Today, you can even find bottled Manhattans from companies like Freitag Cocktails, the luxe pre-mixed beverage line developed by celebrity chef (and skilled mixologist) Amanda Freitag. Yet, the Food Network star has a different approach when it comes to mixing up her Manhattans from scratch, and she shared some tips for making the perfect Manhattan in a recent interview with Mashed.

For Freitag, the drink's garnish serves as a wellspring of inspiration. The "Chopped" veteran explained to us how to make the most of the cherry on top of this iconic cocktail. You can find dozens of types of cherry in the world, but there's one in particular Freitag chooses to grace her Manhattan. "If you like maraschino, that's you. You do you. But I prefer a darker Amarena cherry," she explained. Indeed, these Italian cherries provide a fruitier yet less sweet and more complex flavor than maraschino cherries — but Freitag doesn't stop there. The chef uses the summer fruit throughout her Manhattan recipe for a juicier, smoother take on the historical drink.

Freitag's fruity Manhattan is the perfect summer cocktail

Amanda Freitag's version of a classic Manhattan cocktail recipe may be your new go-to, especially in the warmer months. The drink's flavor profile is designed to complement Freitag's favorite garnish: Amarena cherries. "They're a dark cherry, and they're in a really intense syrup," said Freitag. "I think it really levels up your Manhattan." Many find maraschino cherries cloyingly sweet and garishly colored, thanks to ingredients like corn syrup and red 40 food coloring. Amarena cherries are a bit tart, rich, and velvety from being slow-cooked in their own juices. They may cost more than their sundae-topping counterparts, but they're perfect for crafting an unforgettable cocktail.

In keeping with the cherry-tinged theme of the cocktail, Freitag suggests that you skip the standard bitters in favor of something fruitier. "I think there are so many really good bitters out on the market and a lot of artisanal ones. You can even get cherry bitters to add to that cherry base flavor," she told Mashed. "Then, make sure you have a good vermouth, as well. I would definitely make sure it's something that's not too sticky-sweet — more well-rounded."  For optimal results, choose a bittersweet red, like Trincheri Vermouth Rosso, to bring out even more of the drink's dark cherry notes.

To try Amanda Freitag's ready-to-serve cocktail recipes, including the Freitag Manhattan, visit Freitag Cocktails.