The best Manhattan I ever had was free-poured by a man named Razor.
He wore a white t-shirt and tired overalls with one of the straps hanging loose—(a man can't be bothered to hook both straps when his name is Razor!)—and he tended bar at the Hermosa Saloon in, you guessed it, Hermosa, California.
The bar had swinging saloon-style doors. It was not western-themed but there was enough whiskey in the drinks to make you think it was. Swap the sound system for a piano player—or a player piano?— and the incandescent lights for whores, and you'd have yourself a real saloon. (Note to my wife, there were no whores in giant jewel-toned frilly dresses present while we were there.)
The three of us—I was with two friends at the time (I'm pretty sure one of them was my dad, but the details are fuzzy)—bellied up to the bar and ordered three Maker's Mark Manhattans.
Razor put three ice-filled glasses on the bar, poured half a bottle of Maker's Mark, a few splashes of sweet vermouth, and three dashes of bitters.
"How much?" we asked.
Razor looked at the line of drinks then looked at us. "How about 15 bucks." He said it as a half-question.
These were not by-the-book Manhattans—which was fitting since we weren't exactly by-the-book sober—but they were big. And strong.
They were the cheapest Manhattans I'd ever had. I'm used to paying $15 PER Manhattan in Manhattan.
His terms were fair. We agreed, paid, and left him a 15 dollar tip.
Here’s how I make Manhattan’s when I’m not in Hermosa, CA.
2oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey (I love High West Bourbon, High West Double Rye, or Knob Creek Rye)
3/4oz Sweet Vermouth (I love Noilly Prat)
2 dashes Angostura bitters