The Manchurian Candidate is a fascinating drink that falls into the neglected category of umami martinis.
As kids, we all learned about the four tastes: sweet, salty, sour and bitter. But recently (relatively speaking) a fifth taste, called umami, has been discovered. Umami was first recognized by the international community in 1908. It refers to the taste of glutamates and nucleotides, and can be described as savory or brothy. Soy sauce, fermented fish, and sauteed mushrooms are common foods that contain the glutamates and nucleotides associated with umami.
So why an umami martini? Umami's flavor profile provides a savory counterpoint to the vodka. In the Manchurian Candidate, the umami comes from soy sauce. But in a dirty martini, umami is present in the olive juice. Chances are if you like the one, you'll like the other.
What I love about this drink is that you don't have to go out and buy bottles of obscure ingredients that will sit on your shelf collecting dust. All you need is vodka and soy sauce.
Manchurian Candidate Martini:
Directions: Mix 1.5 oz of vodka with a dash or two of soy sauce. Start with a single splash and slowly add more until you discover the cocktail that fits your palate.
I used Burnett's vodka, which I reviewed here, and amino acids instead of soy sauce.