LuxBar | Gold Coast, Chicago

The new Manhattan program at Luxbar puts you behind the wheel

"People drink Manhattans all the time and they don't know anything about them," laments Luxbar Bar Manager Matthew Lipsky. "They could have such a delicious drink if they just tweaked a couple of things."

At Luxbar, tweak they can. Prospective drinkers are given a menu card, a pencil and 500 potential choices. It sounds more overwhelming than it actually is; there are five ryes, five vermouths, five bitters and a few glass and ice options. You get exactly the drink you want, and it's always $13.

Assorted ryes, vermouths and bitters

If you want, say, a George Dickel rye Manhattan made with Punt y Mes and Bittercube cherry bark bitters served with a hand-cut ice chunk in a rocks glass, you got it. There's even a hidden gem for whiskey geeks: a high-price bottle that should cost way more then $13 a cocktail. No, we won't tell you what it is.

Lipsky has a few rules for great Manhattans that work for home bartenders, too.

1) Always use rye–and stop ordering Maker's Manhattans.
"Rye is generally sharper, dryer and has some pepper spiciness to it," explains Lipsky. "People say, 'I don't want a sweet drink' and then order Maker's. It's a great product, but it's sweet and soft."

2) Keep your vermouth fresh.
"Vermouth goes bad!" says Lipsky. "It oxidizes quickly." Buy small bottles, keep them refrigerated and discard unused product regularly.

3) Never shake a Manhattan.
There's nothing more to say about that.