Words by
The Manhattan
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A taste of NYC, four ways

It’s been said that the Manhattan cocktail was created in the 1870s at New York City’s Manhattan Club, during a banquet hosted by Winston Churchill’s mother in honor of state governor and presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. The banquet was a great success and allegedly led to bar patrons requesting the cocktail by the name of the club where it originated, “the Manhattan.”


But Lady Randolph Churchill was apparently in France at the time of the banquet, not to mention pregnant, so some believe this story to be fiction. A competing claim says the cocktail was invented in the 1860s by a local bartender who worked at a bar on Broadway. 


Modern-day associations with the classic cocktail conjure images of dimly lit speakeasies with warm amber wall sconces, velvet tufted sofas, and dark wooden bars—perfect for a chilly weekend in the big city. 

 

Regardless of the cocktail’s origin, today the Manhattan remains a fixture on restaurant and bar menus. But mixologists are putting their own spins on it, making for both subtle and stark differences between variations. And just as the Big Apple is a melting pot of cultures, this winter edition of “Sips” brings you diversity in this classic cocktail. 

 

The Cheers My Darling Manhattan is a slight departure from the classic, taking a short trip between Italy and the Dalmatian coast with its components. The lovely aromatic Montenegro amaro (from Bologna) has slight bitter notes that harmonize the sweet Luxardo (from Croatia) and sweet vermouth (made with various Italian grapes) perfectly. The result is a well-balanced bourbon cocktail, lightly sweet but not too in your face. Look for the imported dark cherries if you can. And please, no cloying maraschinos from your childhood Shirley Temples! 

 

A cocktail that elicits the response “Hmmm, what’s in this?” is often the best kind. Rather than being overloaded with any one element, it keeps you sipping to pinpoint each flavor. That’s the goal for the Melting Pot Mashup. Too much Chartreuse in this one and you’ll know it—just like NYC, several well-balanced ingredients make for a great thing. This cocktail takes components found in tropical cocktails and combines them with classic spirits for a fun twist on a Manhattan. 

 

The Subdued takes you on a journey to Spain in its very forward sherry fashion, but in a silky, soft way. Utilizing a blend of sweet and dry sherry along with a sweet vermouth complements the spicy qualities of the rye. This might be your new favorite Manhattan. 

 

For those of you who love late autumn and winter, sitting by the fire and catching up on some reading, the Fireside Sipper is a perfect relaxation tool. It feels a little heartier (perfect for cold weather), and really: Why not use bacon as a garnish? This is a bit more bourbon forward but balanced by the sweetness of the port and Cointreau. The bacon cooks with the orange slices, resulting in a subtle melding of both garnishes’ flavors. And make extra bacon. Because, bacon. 

 

Cheers, My Darling


Ice (for shaker)

1 ½ ounces local bourbon 

¾ ounce Montenegro amaro 

½ ounce Carpano Antica vermouth 

½ ounce Luxardo cherry liqueur 

2 dashes spiced cherry bitters 

3 dark cherries (such as Amarena), for garnish 


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.


Mix all ingredients, except the cherries. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with the dark cherries (or an orange rind if you don’t have cherries). 

 

Melting Pot Mashup


Ice (for shaker) 

1 ½ ounces local dark rum 

⅓ ounces brown sugar simple syrup 

¼ ounces Green Chartreuse 

¾ ounce cognac 

¾ ounce Ransom dry vermouth 

3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters 

2 two-inch cinnamon sticks 


 Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.


Mix all ingredients except 1 of the cinnamon sticks. Strain into a rocks glass with a large ice sphere and garnish with the remaining cinnamon stick. 

 

The Subdued


Ice (for shaker)

¾ ounces local rye whiskey 

½ ounce Amontillado (sweet) sherry 

½ ounce Fino (dry) sherry 

¾ ounce Spanish Rojo vermouth (vermut) 

2 dashes Angostura bitters 

5 toasted star anise 


Toast star anise in a pan over medium high heat until you begin to notice the aroma (about 5 minutes). Let cool. 


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Mix all ingredients except 1 star anise. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the remaining star anise. 

 

Fireside Sipper


Ice (for shaker)

1 ½ ounces local bourbon 

1 ounce tawny port 

½ ounce Ransom dry vermouth 

½ ounce Cointreau 

3 dashes orange bitters 

½ to 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

3 grinds black pepper

1 roasted clementine wheel, for garnish 

1 candied orange bacon slice, for garnish 

1 large ice cube

 

Thinly slice the clementine and place on a baking sheet along with a thick-cut slice of bacon (or a few to have extra samples!). If you want to choose the best-looking clementine wheel, slice the whole thing and roast all the pieces. Top the bacon slice with light brown sugar and black pepper. 

 

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Mix all ingredients except for the clementine wheel and the bacon. Strain into a rocks glass with 1 large ice cube. Garnish drink with remaining clementine wheel and bacon strip.


Dana Moos is the author of The Art of Breakfast: How to Bring B&B Entertaining Home, as well as a former innkeeper and has spent many years dazzling her guests with food and drink.

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