Landing at SFO is always a some what thrilling ride as the pilot banks the plane over parts of the city for an approach over water. Safely on the ground and our bags in hand, we make out way via taxi downtown where we check in for our two night stay. As Manhattan’s are clearly on our mind, we gather our merry band of imbibers and make our way out the hotel’s front entrance and off for a long walk to our first destination. As we start our walk I’m reminded of a famous Mark Twain quote … “The coldest winter that I ever saw was the summer spent in San Francisco.” It is chilly, but I anticipate that our planned stop for the evening should provide us with the warmth found in a well made drink.
We arrive at Bourbon and Branch and while we could and likely will enjoy the best of what they have to offer, we are here for a particular reason — to sample their famous riff on our classic beauty, the Black Manhattan. Starting with the basic formula, B&B’s riff subs out the sweet vermouth for the richer, and more complex in flavor Averna amaro. Depending upon one’s preferences this will either be a welcome change or something akin to “sprucing” up the Mona Lisa.
Striking in its boldness this drink has a quality to it … one of being held in check and just barely containing the power that exists between its two main ingredients. I’m not sure I totally love this variant; it is a nice change of pace but almost too much of a good thing … amaro-wise. At least for me that is.
Recipe created Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco and adapted by theSpeakista
• 2 oz rye whiskey (Rittenhouse bonded was used)
• 1 oz Averna amaro
• 1 dash of Angostura bitters
• 1 dash of orange bitters
Garnish: brandied cherries
Glass: cocktail coupe or cocktail glass
Tools: mixing glass, bar-spoon and a julep strainer
Assembly: Mix with plenty of ice until well chilled and then strain, garnish and serve up.
So far so good. Our trip back to our home state is off to a not so bad start. We stumble our way out of the bar and knowing that we have another, long day left ahead of us, make our way back to the hotel with thoughts of meeting a maestro of bitters tomorrow.