One of the best parts of enjoying cocktails with friends is that they share their favorites and personal creations with you. And sometimes, after a few drinks and/or a visit to the fruit stand, you can build and enjoy “new” drinks. We say “new” but as this cocktail is a variant of the Manhattan, one of the most tweaked cocktails in the world, someone has probably made this before. But a quick search of Cocktail DB didn’t come up with a name, so we will call this one “Scott’s Manhattan”, after our friend Scott who made this cocktail for us during our visit to Long Island.
If you read our blog regularly, you will note that we sometimes avoid “brown drinks” like Manhattans, particularly in summer. But Scott is an avowed, and knowledgeable, fan of the Manhattan and made us a version that works in any season. His version includes two ounces of rye, one ounce of sweet vermouth, muddled cherries, a touch of lemon juice and orange bitters to create a bright and “summery” Manhattan. While anyone who likes Manhattans will recognize the whiskey and vermouth, Scott’s additions brighten the flavors and add a clean finish that works very well in warm weather. We all liked this drink and enjoyed quite a few in the last week. Usually whiskey stays near the back of our summer bar, but this drink changed our minds.
Traditionally, a Manhattan is 2 parts bourbon or rye and one part sweet vermouth. Most recipes include bitters, usually Angostura, and often a cherry as garnish. A classic drink, but very sweet to our tastes, particularly if using bourbon. Scott’s version adds more spice by using rye and citrus notes from the orange bitters. The cherries add both sweetness and tang, and really amp up the color. The first sip of this cocktail is sweet and spicy, but then the citrus and cherries kick in for a lighter, fruitier finish than any traditional Manhattan. Purists may cringe, but we are all for seasonal experimentation and variation with our cocktails- it’s fun, and cocktails are all about fun.
As for making the drink, it is pretty straightforward, with just a few extra steps. Place two fresh, pitted cherries, a lemon twist and a few drops of lemon juice to a cocktail shaker and muddle to extract the juice from the cherries and oil from the lemon peel. Add the rye, sweet vermouth, orange bitters (we use Regan’s for this version) and ice to the shaker. Shake until chilled and strain into a cocktail glass. For the rye, we like Bulleit and High West for cocktails, but most good rye will do. If using bourbon, the drink will usually be sweeter, so an extra drop of lemon or a touch less vermouth may help balance the drink. As for the sweet vermouth, we use Noilly Prat or Dolin, but we suggest you experiment with the sweet vermouth you prefer (and you do keep your vermouth in the fridge, right?). With the extra red color from the cherries and aroma from the lemon, we don’t think a garnish is necessary, but perhaps an orange twist will add extra dimension…. Again, feel free to experiment. Scott experimented, and we got a great drink….
- 2 oz. rye or bourbon
- 1 oz. sweet vermouth
- 2 sweet cherries, pitted
- 1 lemon twist / peel (about the size of a quarter).
- 2-3 drops lemon juice
- 3 dashes orange bitters (Regan’s)
- Place cherries, lemon peel and juice into a cocktail shaker and muddle to extract juice and oil.
- Add rye, sweet vermouth , bitters and ice to the shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe’. Serve.