There was an experiment early this afternoon and I have to say it was a delicious experiment.
Pictured above are three "mini" Manhattans . Each was made with one ounce of Rittenhouse rye whiskey and one half ounce of Dolin sweet vermouth. Each was stirred with fresh ice and poured into a cordial glass. The variable was the bitters that was used. The three bitters were Fee Brothers Orange, Fee Brothers Cherry and Angostura, which is the traditional bitters for a Manhattan.
The differences were anything but subtle, but those differences showed up mostly in the finish of the drink. The rye and vermouth were prominent on entering the mouth, but after some swishing and swallowing the aftertastes were distinctly different in the three drinks. The orange bitters was tart, fresh and perky and tasted like orange peel. The cherry bitters were sweet, smooth and comforting and left a finish like chomping a sweet cherry. The Angostura was was strong and bitter with a mixture of flavors that only come from Angostura.
I like all three so the decision would be what I was in the mood for at the time, or when the drink was being consumed. The orange bitters might be best on the rocks as an aperitif while the cherry bitters might best be used in an after dinner drink served neat. The Angostura could fill in nicely when some tradition was needed.