The Classic Manhattan

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
Cherry

“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.

Cherry Lavender Gimlet

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
Lime Slice

Stir with ice and strain into a (larger) chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a floating lime slice.

“Near Perfection!”

Cocktail Fruit and Garnishes

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

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.

 

Nosferatu’s Shooter

It’s been a while since I’ve posted back to back days, but I figured I was over due to get some new drinks up here to the blog.

I decided to go for this shot for two reasons. First that it’s been too long since I’ve had a shot, and second because I’ve had this sampler bottle of Godiva sitting for about 10 months that I haven’t touched.

So like any shot there isn’t much savoring to do and it’s a strong “down the hatch” flavor. The aroma is that of whatever vodka you choose with a slight hint of mint. The shot itself is a strong rush of mint flavor with a slight chocolate linger. The cherry garnish at the end really helps ease the mint and cool everything off. It’s not a bad little shot and with the Halloween nut-jobs already starting to plan their events 2 months early, this would could make a good starter for everyone at a party. Made in advance of course.

Overall Rating: 6/10
Alcohol Taste Rating: 9/10

Nosferatu’s Shooter

1/3 Part Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
1/3 Part Vodka
1/3 Part Peppermint Schnapps
Speared Cherry

Layer in a presentation shot glass (watch your ABV percentages for a proper layer). Spear a maraschino cherry and set it on top. Down in one gulp and eat the cherry.

nosferatu's shooter

“Take a bite!”

Bourbon Slush

Yes, ok there’s tons of Bourbon Slush recipes out there, but I doubt you’ve ever had one like this! Instead of something from one of my regular cocktail books this is an old family recipe.

Sweet, a little sour, and a whole lot of bourbon this drink is the perfect summer drink for a crowd. You can’t make these in a smaller batch so get out a solid gallon tub to make this in! I’d talk more about the taste, but it’s just something you have to try for yourself. FYI though, don’t waste good bourbon on this, the cheap stuff works just fine.

Bourbon Slush

1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Can (6 oz) of Frozen Orange Juice
3/4 Can (9 oz) of Frozen Lemonade
2 Cups of Hot Tea
2 Cups of Bourbon
6 Cups of Water

Mix ingredients in a large bowl. Be sure that sugar and juice concentrate have all dissolved. Freeze overnight. Scoop out with a spoon or ice cream scoop into the glass of your choice. (Optional) Tops with Coke or another soft drink of your choice (Sprite and Ginger Ale are great options). Garnish with Orange Slice and a Cherry.

*Note do not use liquid or fresh juices. It’s designed to work with frozen concentrated juices.

Bournbon Slush

“Summer time turkey (and some hidden Evan Williams)”

Mediterranean Freeze

Today’s blending cocktail is probably my favorite thus far for the week. The Mediterranean Freeze is an interesting color, but is well complemented by the garnishes. The opening aroma is very orange-y making for a very inviting drink. It starts off with the taste of a basic screwdriver (vodka and OJ), then moves to a sour citrus, then finishes with a subtle melon that keeps you going back for more. I wouldn’t say that the peach schnapps is lost in this drink, but it does lend itself to the overall sweetness in the first few sips. This is really solid blending cocktail and worth making again, perhaps in a larger quantity for a party.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 2-3/10
Overall Rating 9/10

Mediterranean Freeze

1 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Midori
1/2 oz Peach Schnapps
2 oz Sweet/Sour
3 oz Orange Juice
Orange Slice and Cherry

Blend liquid ingredients with ice, pour into a pint glass. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

Med. Freeze

Chilly!

South of France

Well as we continue on blended cocktail week there was bound to be a drink that isn’t exactly perfect. Now the “South of France” is still a very good drink, but the flavor is certainly more interesting than anything. A pleasant and inviting drink as it is resembling in taste and look to that of the “Pina Colada,” this cocktail however has a slightly more complex flavor thanks to the B&B. Once you drink through the frothy pineapple foam, the drink starts you off sweet and rummy. The drink then moves to a pure pineapple, and finishes with the interesting mix of pineapple and coconut with a strange herbal taste mixed in underneath. This certainly isn’t my favorite blended drink but it is still very good. I’d be interested in how this drink would taste with a pure Benedictine.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 5.5/10
Overall Rating 7.5/10

South of France

1 oz B&B Liqueur
1 1/2 oz Rum (Light or Gold)
1 1/2 oz Coconut Cream Syrup
2 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice

Blend with ice and pour into a large tumbler. Garnish with a cherry and pineapple wedge (as available)

"Bonjour!"

“Bonjour!”