In Pursuit Of: The perfect Manhattan

Dawn Brodey
A perfect pair. Manhattans as presented by The Monte Carlo.

It is understood, especially around Hot Dish, that the culinary arts are just that -- an art. We are lucky to amble among some of the finest displays of food culture and then report back to you, our readers.

But reporting about any art is itself, well, an art. Especially when it comes to classics -- those items with which foodies have had more time to apply countless variations. And so we present to you our newest column: In Pursuit Of. We'll visit and revisit culinary classics at different Twin Cities eateries and bars in pursuit of just what makes them so great.

For example, in theater, take Shakespeare's Hamlet, a play that has been performed for generations. Even for those who don't particularly have a palate for theater, they are likely to agree -- yes, Hamlet is a classic favorite. The ingredients necessary for a theater troupe to prepare Hamlet are available and well known, and over the centuries many thousands have served it up -- both hot and cold.

There are the traditional approaches -- every word spoken as written, period costumes, no amplification -- and for many who have drank up such productions, they may swear it is the only way to have the play.

Then there is the more 'Hollywood take' on the classic tale - set in space, modern language translation, with a dance break. And some will swear they never really got Hamlet until that moment -- it's a new favorite.

Among the artfully prepared food or drink, there can be a similar dichotomy. This week Hot Dish pursued the perfect Manhattan; and we got two very different performances from two great bars less than half a mile apart: Monte Carlo and Marvel Bar.

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