I stood in my kitchen one Sunday night, a bourbon Manhattan in hand, staring at a lump of ground beef in a bowl on the counter and wracking my brain trying to think of something to do with it beyond my usual limited repertoire of burger recipes. As I took a sip of my cocktail, I thought, I wish I could make a burger that tastes like this Manhattan.
And then I thought, Why not? After all, plenty of people will argue that there’s no better cocktail than a Manhattan to pair with a burger. I gave it a try, marinating the ground beef in bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters, before cooking it up and slapping it on a bun. It was good—so juicy and flavorful that it didn’t need any condiments—but I figured a real chef could do a lot better.
That’s when inspiration struck: Why not ask a few pros to whip up their own concept of a Manhattan burger?
And so, the Manhattan (Burger) Project was born. What began with a few phone calls resulted in four unique and distinct burgers made by four of New York’s most talented patty purveyors—all of whom enjoy a good cocktail. They were given no guidelines apart from, “Make a burger that tastes like a Manhattan.” Here are the glorious results—along with implied encouragement to take the idea and run with it yourself.