Looking back through the blog recently, I was shocked to find that I hadn’t made a single Manhattan in the nearly 4 years since starting this page. I have had no excuse to ignore this quintessential classic cocktail, so I apologize for my oversight.
The Manhattan is said to have first been made (or at least) introduced in the United States by the request of Winston Churchill’s Mother in a bar in NYC. Since those days the drink has become a true classic recipe known by even the most humble of bartenders. Plus it’s a great example of how a truly masculine drink can be presented in a fancy cocktail glass.
For a drink this simple if you’re not using quality ingredients you’ll be doing yourself and your guests a disservice. A cheap whiskey (traditionally bourbon or rye) will be far too harsh on the palette, while a cheap vermouth will leave quite literally a bad taste in your mouth. No, a good Manhattan is all about the right ingredients all coming together beautifully.
With a deep reddish brown color and garnished cherry this drink feels both classy and intimidating at the same time. With sweet vermouth on the forward aroma, it’s is as inviting to the senses as such a simple cocktail can be. Masked by the mixing of flavors you’re greeted with a pleasant mellow bourbon on the front of your palette. It quickly moves into the vermouth (again get a good one, you’ll thank me), and leads to an oaky bourbon and bitter finish. If you chose rye over the bourbon I imagine you’ll get of its flavor than you do the oak of your favorite bourbon.
The bite is strong, but the flavor keeps you coming back for more! It’s hard to hate a drink like this (unless of course you’re not a whiskey lover).
Alcohol Taste Rating: 8/10
Overall Rating 9.5/10
The Classic Manhattan
2 oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Sweet (Red) Vermouth
2-3 Dashes of Aromatic Bitters
“It puts the MAN in Manhattan”
Stir with ice for about 45 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
It’s been quite a while since the last cocktail and I figured I wanted to make my triumphant return to the cocktail blog with a really solid drink. I recently picked up some Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Liqueur, and found it to be a very interesting ingredient. It’s a clear bitter liqueur with a distinct cherry aroma and flavor that alone, isn’t something worth drinking. However, the product really shines in small quantities (1/4 to 1/2 oz) in a variety of cocktails.
So today’s drink is something of a modern flair on a classic cocktail. With just a dash of the Luxardo and some Lavender Bitters you get a VERY well balanced drink.
The drink has the lime and gin aroma of a classic gimlet along with its signature yellow-green jewel appearance. It starts light and sweet with a forward floral note of the lavender bitters. You’re rewarded with a sweet lime flavor on the mid palette, and to finish it’s a 3 stage level of complex flavors of; bitter, strong, and a little floral and bitter cherry as it settles.
Both the Luxardo and the lavender bitters and their own unique bitter complexity to this classic cocktail. If you’re looking for a modern twist on an already nearly perfect cocktail, this could be one for you!
Alcohol Taste Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating: 9.5/10
Cherry Lavender Gimlet
2 oz Gin
2 oz Sweetened Lime Juice
1/4 oz Luxardo Cherry Liqueur
3-4 Dashes Lavender Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a (larger) chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a floating lime slice.
So it’s been nearly 4 Months since you heard from me last and I thought it was about time for an update. Since early December I’ve been in the process of moving which as you may have guessed has put a damper on the bar considerably. I went from a strong 36+ bottle set, to a set of 1 (and some extras that no one uses anyway…like Campari.) In the process of moving from July to December I scaled back the home bar significantly, and now I’m starting from (near) scratch once again. The time in between however has allowed me to both learn and expand what I want this blog to contain.
While I started this blog with the intention of introducing a new cocktail every week, it has become more of an outlet for culinary creativity in the “craft cocktail” realm. My exploration of good and near perfect cocktails, has lead me to pursue a set of drinks that is both fine in its quality of ingredients, as well as in its creation. From about 2015 on it has been less about “new” drinks and more about ones that I feel are worth highlighting.
This concept of the “craft” cocktail is something that has stuck with me throughout though. Part of the artistry of the drink is more than just a new recipe, but also about the ingredients that you use. Subsequently one of my favorite YouTube channels – Common Man Cocktails expand their branding into a new channel called “The Craft Cocktail” There seems to be a trend of those that make cocktails, calling their art “craft” to mimic the exponential growth of the craft beer industry. That said, I think this blog is a unique reflection on that concept. In short I think a new tagline for the blog should be “Craft cocktaisl with an artist’s touch”
[Food for thought] But I digress…
Classic with a Twist
I want to talk briefly today about the garnishes in cocktail, specifically the use of mint or fruit in some drinks. I have found over time that I really relish the maraschino cherry, or lemon wedge in a cocktail, as it adds not only color and contrast to a drink, but a unique bit of sweetness before or after finishing the cocktail. Finishing a whiskey sour (as I type) and having an orange or lemon slice and a cherry to finish the drink feels oddly satisfying. Fruit garnishes go a long way to making a drink both presentable as well as making it more well rounded.
Sucking on a lemon peel, or eating the pulp of an orange can make the taste of a drink really come to life! The “artistry” of craft cocktails is more than just spirits and bitters, but the garnishes as well! Don’t forget my fellow mixologists, that the garnish can be just as important as which whiskey you choose in your sours.
Thought I should get at least one post in this month specifically something Christmasy. You may have already had your parties, but if you’re looking for something to serve to your family on Sunday night after (or even before) dinner you might want to have a look at this one.
I’ve been thinking about this design for quite a while, and I think keeping it simple was the way to go. If you don’t have the specific cinnamon syrup for this, it can be easily substituted with some simple syrup and a few shakes on ground cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg.
With a bitter rum taste and a lingering cinnamon finish, this will certianly raise your spirits this season!
1 1/2 oz Top Shelf Gold Rum
1/2 oz BG Reynolds Cinnamon Syrup
2-3 Dashes Bittercube Trinity Bitters (or your favorite aromatic)
Straight build in a short glass over ice. Stir Well. Enjoy (Garnish with a cinnamon stick?).
“Ho, Ho, Hola”
Figured it was about time I got around to posting this one. This is a leftover from about 4 months ago when I was planning on doing another “blended cocktails week.” However I instead just made this for 4 days straight, because it was just that good! (Glad I wrote down my tasting notes).
A wonderfully blended and sweet drink, this one comes very close to perfect. My recipe book calls for a whipped cream and banana garnish, but honestly I feel it kinda ruins it a little that way.
For this cocktail you are greeted with a wonderful rum and banana aroma. First taste (it may be hard to pick it out) starts with citrus and sweet then moves to a creamy rum on your mid palette. After just a second or so you’re lead straight into a dominant banana flavor with subtle amaretto on the finish. This drink is absolutely worth making! For yourself or a crowd I highly recommend checking this one out!
Straw House Hummer
1 1/4 oz Light Rum
3/4 oz Creme de Banana (Torani Banana Syrup Used)
1 Whole (Peeled) Banana
1 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Sweet/Sour Mix
3/4 oz Dark Rum
Blend all ingredients except the dark rum with a cup of ice. Pour into a Pint (or other tall) glass. Float dark rum (Kraken Preferred) on top. Optional garnishes: Banana Slice and Squirt of Whipped Cream
So, a few months back I was starting to make and review enough drinks for another blended cocktails week, but things got in the way and I ended up with only a couple daiquiris and a bunch of banana drinks (banana cocktail coming next post). Around that same time I also picked up a number of the Torani flavor syrups to supplement flavors in the bar. Among the few I got 2 of them created very unique and interesting variations on the traditional frozen Daiquiri. For these recipes I used the traditional Daiquiri recipe, but replaced the simple syrup with one of the Tornai Syrups, and of course blended with a handful of ice.
Frozen Strawberry Torani Daiquiri
Taste Profile: Equal parts sweet and sour. Tastes like concentrated springtime!
Frozen Green Apple Torani Daiquiri
Taste Profile: Strong candy flavor. Sweeter than what you’d expect from a Sour Apple Pucker. Tangy and sour.
Red berry goodness!
Looking through my recipe book, I’m really shocked I haven’t made this yet. It’s also the first Galliano cocktail here on the blog, and I’m down to the last 1/4 of the bottle. The Milano is a simple, but classy recipe with a wonderful yellow color.
The drink greets you with a pleasant citrus and anise aroma. It’s starts with a very gin forward flavor, moves to a herbal citrus near the mid-back palette, and finishes with a balanced herbal and anise flavor brought by the Galliano. Galliano can be pretty harsh if you’ve never tried it before with it’s vanilla and anise notes, but this drink really rounds it out to make you go back for more. That herbal quality that runs through the whole drink intensifies and the drink sits in your stomach. It’s almost as if the flavor gets better after the first sip.
Certainly worth a try if you have some Galliano, but if you’re not willing to buy it’s obnoxious bottle, feel free to pass it by. Also the choice of a more juniper forward gin and/or a dash of herbal bitters (such as cardamom or lavender) could make this a great aperitif cocktail for guests. Normally I’d add some sort of garnish to a drink like this (on top of the original drink), but the color of this is so spectacular that a garnish would l feel would ruin it.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 8/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
1 1/2 oz Gin
1 1/2 oz Galliano
1 oz Lemon Juice
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.