Project Manhattan – The Uptown Manhattan

by KeithP on July 19, 2010

Withdrawal … is this what it feels like? I typically only feel this when I’m traveling away from the Boss but I have had this feeling as of late and pretty bad too.  It took a little introspection to realize it was something, well, familiar.  Other then several weeks back it has been some time since we and I had last discussed having a Manhattan.  All too familiar to theSpeakista this drink has been sorely missed and absent.  Sure I’ve had other projects occupying my time, frequent attempts with the Godfather imbibing in the city and the Warm Weather Drink Challenge is going great but when you think of loss, you always come home and for me that home, in terms of a specific drink, is my cherished Manhattan.

So what set this recent turn of “withdrawal”-like symptoms off?  Well, it was probably our recent post on the Warm Weather Drink Challenge and the phenomenal Rear Admiral’s Swizzle that did it? How so, that guy was rum-based not a Manhattan riff? Camper’s article on the resurgence and use of coffee-based liqueurs and flavors made reference to a familiar drink, Bourbon and Branch’s Black Manhattan and that was all it took to set me off? Absent the required Averna needed to complete the Black Manhattan and I guess operating on a Manhattan hair trigger I stumbled back in a fit of consternation until I recalled in a faint memory Paul’s 30/30 project from last year and another interesting riff on our fav drink … the Uptown Manhattan.

Riffs abound on our beloved drink – the Black Manhattan swaps the deeply rich amaro Averna for sweet vermouth; I sampled a fantastic variation at the W Hotel at Union Square here in NYC using the artichoke-based bitter digestive Cynar and pomegranate molasses … fantastic; and the Uptown which as you can see below swaps in Amaro Nonino and cherry brandy in place of the sweet vermouth.

Uptown Manhattan
Recipe adapted from the version created by Marcovaldo Dionysos (recipe sourced from the Cocktail Chronicles)

•    2 oz Makers Mark bourbon (Buffalo Trace was used)
•    3/4 oz Amaro Nonino
•    2 dashes of orange bitters (Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6 was used)
•    1 barspoon cherry brandy from brandied cherries (Cherry Herring was subbed in)
Garnish: Luxardo brand cherries on a stick and a flamed orange peel
Glass: champagne coupe
Tools: mixing glass, barspoon and a julep strainer

Assembly: Combine all of the ingredients in the mixing glass with ice and stir for at least 30 seconds until well chilled, strain the mixture into the serving glass and garnish as noted.

The verdict: There is a nice, deep dark mahogany color in the glass and the smell has a rich floral sweetness to it matched with the caramel citrus notes of the garnish.  Equally rich on the palate, the first sip is wonderfully complex and unexpected.  I’m not sure if my choice of bourbon substitute is playing around here but it works nicely with the equally complex amaro – they seem to counter off one another.  Lacking a strong sweetening agent (which would usually be filled by the sweet vermouth) this version of the Manhattan is skewing more towards a stronger herbal, floral and spice profile then the original but the muted sweetness from the cherry brandy brings it ever so back to the center line, flavor-wise.  I like this version quite a bit and it hit the spot, curing me of my latent Manhattan melancholy and bringing new vigor to our efforts.

Thanks again Camper for the inspiration (in a round about sort of way …).

theSpeakista’s Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

theSpeakista asks:

1. Have you tried either the Uptown or Black Manhattan and if so what did you think?

2. So tell us, what is your fav riff on this beauty of a drink?

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