3 Cocktail Recipes for Variations of the Manhattan

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KATU was nice enough to invite me back to their morning show to mix up a few more cocktails. This time around we are starting with the classic Manhattan, and then mixing two simple and delicious variations, a White Manhattan and a Black Manhattan. The beauty of the Manhattan is both it's simplicity and it's versitility. The base ingredients of the Manhattan are whiskey (traditionally rye), sweet vermouth, and bitters (typically Angostura). 

Classic Manhattan

2 ounces whisky (Maker's Mark 46

1 ounce Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)

2 dashes of Bitters (Angostura)

Add all ingredients to cocktail mixing glass filled with ice. Stir for 30-45 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with brandied cherry or orange zest (optional).

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The White Manhattan is a fun variation swapping the aged whiskey out for moonshine (unaged whiskey) and Dolin's white, but sweet version of their vermouth, Dolin Blanc. 

White Manhattan

2 oz. White Whiskey (Corsair Artisan)

1 oz. Dolin Blanc

2 Dashes of Bitters (Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters)

 Add all ingredients to cocktail mixing glass filled with ice. Stir for 30-45 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with brandied cherry or orange zest (optional).

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The Black Manhattan swaps out the sweet vermouth for a sweet herbal liqueur called Averna, which has a vanilla-like sweetness and warming finish that pairs perfectly with whiskey. 

Black Manhattan

2 oz. Whiskey (Maker's 46)

1 oz. Averna

2 Dashes of Bitters (Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters)

 Add all ingredients to cocktail mixing glass filled with ice. Stir for 30-45 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with brandied cherry or orange zest (optional).

What is your idea of the perfect Manahattan?

Check out my video from this morning's show!

Sweeten your cocktails with salt not sugar! Averna and Cynar salted


Salt of the Earth:

1 oz. Averna
1 oz. Cynar
Scant pinch of Australian Murray River pink flake salt*
Orange zest

*(You may have to do some experimenting to get the right amount of salt, so start with smaller drinks so you don't waste good booze. If it tastes salty, you used too much salt)

Stir with ice. Strain. Express oils from orange zest. Garnish with zest if desired.

This cocktail was the result of multiple bits of inspiration over the past 6 months. The idea of salting cocktails (beyond margarita rims), has been marinating for some time after reading the excellent, informative, and scientific article from Maks Pazuniak, of beta cocktails and The Counting Room. Essentially, salt mitigates the bitterness of flavors and heightens their perceived sweetness (please read the article for further explanation of the chemical reaction of salts effect on bitterness, as well as links to recipes for other salted cocktails) which has broad ranging implications within the cocktail realm, especially with the plethora of bitters and amari currently available.

Chefs have long practiced the use of salt to pull out sweetness in otherwise bitter herbs, spices, and dishes. This is noted in the second bit of inspiration for the drink, the book The Flavor Bible, which was mentioned by virtually every speaker in the Portland Cocktail Week seminars last year and recently came in the mail. It is a reference book that focuses on the philosophy of flavors, the pairing and grouping of flavors , and is very inspirational when creating new drinks or meals.

The final bit came from Ron Dollete of LushAngeles.com, who during TDN of Portland Cocktail week paired Averna with Cynar and Bittermens Mole Bitters for a memorable cocktail, though I don't remember the exact proportions. We didn't have Mole bitters on hand so we opted for a 1:1 ratio of Averna:Cynar. Have any salted cocktail recipes you'd like to share?

Salvatore's Gift- Bourbon, Averna, citrus juices, @Bittercube cherry bark vanilla bitters, vanilla bean soda

Salvatore's Gift

1.5 oz. Bourbon (Michter's US *1 Small Batch)
1 oz. Averna
1/3 oz. Blood orange juice
1/3 oz. lemon juice
2 dash cherry bark vanilla bitters (Bittercube)
1/4 inch vanilla bean
Top with vanilla bean soda (opt.) (Dry Soda)
lemon oils

Shake all ingredients except soda (if using) over ice. Double strain into chilled cocktail glass. Top with soda. Express lemon oils with zest over cocktail. Discard zest.

This cocktail was created with vanilla as the star ingredient. Bourbon and Averna have a natural affinity and herbaceous richness, and Michter's US*1 Small Batch Bourbon is a top choice and excellent candidate for this drink. Blood orange juice was used for color and flavor, but any orange juice can be substituted. We had to play with the ratios a bit, the first version was made without lemon juice, but the following attempt included lemon juice which helped to brighten the flavors and pull out cherry and cocoa notes and a lively tartness not quite achieved with the blood orange juice alone.

Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters further complement the Averna, and add floral, fruit, and spice complexity as well as further evoking the chocolate notes in the Averna with its own hint of cocoa . For a lighter cocktail, try topping it off with Dry Sodas Vanilla Bean one example from Dry Soda's portfolio that showcase how natural ingredients, lightly sweetend with pure sugar, and champagne-style small-bubble carbonation can yield fantastic and exciting results with endless pairing options.
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