While I tend to consider my own Manhattan recipe pretty fantastic (Woodford Reserve bourbon, Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth, orange bitters and a Luxardo cherry; shaken, not stirred), several local bars present a stiff challenge to its dominance.

NYC's namesake shines brightest at Coyote Café (62 W Water St., 988-9999), where mixologist Quinn Stephenson burns a delicate slice of cherrywood to give the bourbon-thick Gentleman's Vice ($14) that extra je ne sais quoi. If $14 feels a bit steep, save your pennies with the Perfect Manhattan ($12; $7 during happy hour) at Tanti Luce's Bar 221 (221 Shelby St., 988-2355), which hosts a happy hour featuring specialty cocktails and bar food for $7 until 7 pm daily. Other notables: the Hotel St. Francis' Secreto Bar (210 Don Gaspar Ave., 983-5700) makes a lovely, classic Manhattan, and The Palace Restaurant & Saloon (132 W Palace Ave., 988-5432) serves the huge (and hugely popular) Monte Up ($11), which packs a punch.

by Alexa Schirtzinger

by Loren Bienvenu

by Mia Rose Carbone

by Joey Peters

by Justin Horwath

by Enrique Limón

by SFR

by Alexa Schirtzinger

by Alexa Schirtzinger

by SFR