My father's drink of choice: "Four Roses Manhattan on the rocks, with a twist," ordered sitting at dim, smokey bars or the dining rooms of the mid-range restaurants they were attached to. The waitresses wore white shirts with black pants and vests, and still wrote orders on check pads. There would be a salad bar with iceberg lettuce and pickled beets. His favorite bartenders were always women, because Dad was divorced and liked to be charming, and they would let me sit at the bar with him sometimes.
At home, big bottles of blended whiskey and vermouth sat on top of the refrigerator. He enjoyed only cocktails, drank no wine until he met my stepmother Sandy, never beer.
In a rocks glass with ice:
- 2 oz Four Roses bourbon (more traditionally, rye)
- 1 oz sweet vermouth (drier: 1/2 sweet + 1/2 dry, driest: 1 oz dry)
- 1/2 oz water
- one or two dashes bitters
Stir. Garnish with a maraschino cherry on a plastic sword, which will have absorbed a goodly amount of bourbon by the end of the drink, so don't give it to children.