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Aaron Lahey
 
February 19, 2015 | Cocktail Recipes | Aaron Lahey

A Big Cherry Twist on a Big Apple Classic

The Cherry Manhattan
2 oz Napa Valley Distillery Cherry Brandy
1 oz Carpano Antica
2 dashes (12 drops) maraschino liqueur
2 dashes (12 drops) Abbott's Bitters or other high quality aromatic bitters
1 Luxardo Cherry for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice. Add cherry brandy, Carpano Antica, maraschino liqueur, and one dash bitters. Stir, DO NOT SHAKE, for 20 seconds. Garnish cocktail glass with Luxardo cherry, and strain contents of shaker into glass. Float one more dash of bitters on top, and you're done! Classic Manhattan flavor with a big cherry twist!  Served up in a chilled cocktail glass, makes one 4 oz cocktail.

*Note: An easy way to remember the proportions of the classic Manhattan: Manhattan's area code. 2-1-2. 2 oz spirit to 1 oz vermouth to 2 dashes bitters.

The true origins of the most ubiquitous drink in America remains a topic of some contention. The popular story goes that The Manhattan cocktail was first served at The Manhattan Club, in New York, sometime around 1870. A Dr. Iain Marshall is said to have first crafted the cocktail in honor of Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill's mother, during a banquet hosted by Lady Churchill. The drink was so popular, guests of the banquet would later ask for the drink by the name of the club they were first served it: "Can I have one of those Manhattan Cocktails?"

The story is likely fiction, but nevertheless the Manhattan remains the classic American cocktail. Specifically calling for American Whiskey in Jerry Thomas's 1887 edition of his famous bar tending guide. His book was the first time a recipe for the Manhattan was printed, and by some, this is considered to be THE classic Manhattan. Thomas's recipe included two dashes of maraschino liqueur or curacao, which is often absent from modern Manhattans. His recipe also calls for a 1/4 wheel of lemon to garnish, as opposed to the now standard maraschino cherry.

The cocktail I am going to make tonight is not a classic Manhattan. However, this drink stays very true to the spirit of Jerry Thomas's original, encompassing the elegant finesse one expects from true pre-prohibition cocktails. However, Instead of any kind of whiskey (American or otherwise) I'm going to be using an American brandy. To be specific, cherry brandy, made from whole bing cherries. To be even more specific, Napa Valley Distillery's cherry brandy, aged in charred American oak for two and a half years.

Let me take a moment to talk about this very unique spirit. The oak really comes through strong on this one, making it very dry and peppery on the front palate. This moves into a nuttiness on the mid palate, like toasted almond. Only on the finish do you get the cherry, which builds and lingers on the palate. The oak really gives this spirit a rye whiskey character, despite its true brandy nature. An esoteric spirit that eludes definition, it will make a Manhattan like no other.

Signing off for this week,
Your ever humble, curious mixologist,
Aaron Lahey


*Napa Valley Distillery always recommends drinking responsibly.

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