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Manhattan’s in May … A Bitter Maestro

I would call our trip to the left coast, thus far, a success.  Great food and great drinks and tonight we expect nothing short of fantastic end to our swing in California.  Truth be told, we have had a little history with this drink and so it would come as no surprise given that our expectations are once again high for success.

Save our journey to Newark, this drink is probably the first that might give readers a pause and ask the question, “at what point does a drink stop being a riff and start being its own, unique branch of a drink?”  Sure all drinks in and of themselves are unique, but many trace their direct heritage back to some previous incarnation or classic.  For me, the Bitter Maestro would seem to fall under the Manhattan family tree — rye and sweet vermouth are in the mix and paired with not so distant kissing cousins.  I first came across the below drink reading, as usual, a post by Paul for a MxMo.  The drink was created by Brooke Arthur of Range in San Fran as a way of highlighting high proof spirits and their effect on other ingredients.  I’ve read Paul’s post on the matter and the SF Gate article several times and have formed my own, similar view on their use and have seen how these types of spirits bring more than just “fire power” to a drink, they enhance, they modify other parties to a mixture in a way that makes it more than the sum of its parts.  In so doing, something wonderful is created.  The Bitter Maestro may not be what many would think a Manhattan is or should be but I frankly think that it is a welcome addition to our list.

Bitter Maestro
Recipe created Brooke Arthur at Range in San Francisco and adapted by theSpeakista

•    1 1/2 oz rye whiskey (Rittenhouse bonded was used)
•    1/2  oz applejack (Lairds was used)
•    1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge (Dolin Rouge was subbed in its place)
•    1/2 oz Amaro Nonino
•    1 dash grenadine (homemade version)
Garnish: lemon peel
Glass: cocktail coupe or cocktail glass
Tools: mixing glass, bar-spoon and a julep strainer

Assembly: Stir all of the ingredients in the mixing glass with plenty of ice until well chilled and then strain the mixture into the serving glass. Garnish and serve up.

The verdict: Complex in profile, this drink is quite nice to sip while sitting back with a nice book or dread the thought, a movie.  Flavors of dried fruits and a twinge of bitterness linger against a backdrop of strong, bold rye.  There is a slight sweetness that fades to a warming calm.  My thoughts have evolved on this drink since the first time I made it — having now enjoyed it several times since that first encounter I can say that I believe it to be a very, very nice indeed.

Well, that was a mighty nice home coming.  Two days, great drinks and a desire to, sorta, stay.  Well, as my heart is drawn back to my adopted city, we await our flight tomorrow with anticipation as we have but a few days left in our quest for Manhattan bliss.

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