A great Manhattan needs to be like Mariano Rivera at his finest: not particularly brash or flashy, but dependable, august, urbane, and strong like a mother fucker. It doesn't do well with modifications outside of different brands of bourbon, vermouth, and bitters–this ain't a margarita or martini. So when I first espied the Sky High Manhattan at Stubrick's in Fullerton, I was skeptical. They did right with the Maker's Mark 46 (which has a sweeter finish than the mother hooch), the Angostura bitters, and Vya vermouth–but adding St. Germain? That elderflower liqueur that's been the rage in hipster bars that veer to the sweet side, mixing it up with a bold Manhattan. Seemed like that brief segment in the Simpsons when Bart and pals did a spy mission in Shelbyville, and Nelson and Martin were paired up.
like most new food mixings I take an immediate skepticism to, I was wrong.
Stubrik's, of course, is my go-to steak place, not just for the fine, affordable cuts of meat, but because I've been celebrating my birthday with the guys I grew up with for more than a decade. Your basic Manhattan structure is there in the Sky High, but the St. Germain adds another layer of sweetness–and, of course, another layer of booze. One is as potent as a Manhattan can get; two, and you begin reminiscing about downtown Fullerton, when Stubrik's was the only great restaurant around and the Reagan Years and the Hub were next door instead of the Slidebar Cafe. Three, and you start swearing that your high school ex is playing pool upstairs–not that you care, of course, but did I tell you guys about the time she made out with our boss, and I nearly kicked his ass? Four? Floor!