Manhattans always appealed to me as a pre-turkey drink. Got together with the in-laws (Rob and Tane) and their in-laws (David and Maki) and tried out a couple variations. Rob brought along his ingredients for a Red Hook, and I brought makings for a Leaving Manhattan, and we ended up with two bottles of Rittenhouse 100 and two bottles of Punt e Mes. Then the ingredients got different – Rob going with Maraschino Liqueur and a traditional cherry garnish, me adding crème de cacao, a tea syrup, and an orange peel garnish.
- 2 oz Rye (Rittenhouse 100)
- 0.5 oz Punt e Mes
- 0.25 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
- Cherry garnish (used sweet and delicious Amarena Fabbri cherries)
Stir first three ingredients with ice until well chilled, strain into chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with cherry.
This is a good variation. Punt e Mes can be overly powerful, so I like dropping the vermouth element down to 1/2 oz, and then adding the Maraschino Liqueur, which brings a sophisticated cherry sweetness with a distinctive tang to the party. Rittenhouse is spicy and comes in hot at 100 proof, and either needs to be tamed, or, as in this case, challenged with the right balance of other distinctive flavors. This is a little more dry, but quite tasty.
Then, we tried the Leaving Manhattan that was recently featured by Gary Regan in the SF Chronicle. I made the alterations as described in parentheses.
- 2 oz bourbon (I used 1.75 oz Rittenhouse Rye 100)
- 0.5 oz Punt e Mes
- 0.25 oz dark crème de cacao
- 0.25 oz Lapsang smoked tea syrup (described below, but I used Formosa Oolong, as I had no Lapsang Souchon in the house)
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- orange twist as garnish
Stir the liquid ingredients in a mixing glass until well chilled, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with orange twist (removed over the finished drink so that the most oils are caught in the drink).
To make the tea syrup – add 4 oz (1/2 cup) sugar to 4 oz (1/2 cup) strong, hot, fresh-brewed tea.
Since the rye was going to be tighter and dryer than a bourbon, and hotter as well, I dropped it down 1/4 ounce. I want to try it with the smoky Lapsang tea, but I’m probably going to cut that with a less aggressive tea. But a little smoke here would be really nice. The flavors of the tea and the crème de cacao marry together really well. This is a fine beverage – don’t be intimidated at all by the tea syrup, as it is super easy to make. This had a sweeter mouth feel to it and really set the mouth mood for a delicious turkey dinner, which just so happened to be awaiting us.
Okay – I got this out. Time to give in to the food coma. Might do some more testing tomorrow as we host our second t-day.