As part of a new series, we look at the history behind lesser-known cocktails and why you should be making them at home. First off the blocks is the seductive Black Manhattan.
Even if you don’t like rye, every gent worth his weight in salt should know how to make a Manhattan. As one of the ‘founding fathers’ of the classic cocktail scene, the Manhattan – a blend of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters – is as timeless as it is heady. Originally created using Canadian rye whiskey, and served up (or sometimes on the rocks in the US) with a maraschino cherry, the Manhattan is about as timeless as cocktails get. However, that doesn’t mean it’s beyond evolution.
Named both for its darker appearance and for the name of one the original’s many cited creators, the Black Manhattan was created by Todd Smith in 2015 during his time at San Francisco’s Bourbon & Branch. Smith replaced the classic sweet vermouth of the original with amaro.
Amaro is an Italian herbal liqueur that has enjoyed a global renaissance over the past few years as cocktail fans look for increased complexity and stray from sugary drinks. Traditionally enjoyed as an after-dinner digestive, amaro lends a bitter-sweet note to the classic Manhattan, as well as dark chocolate accents and touches of spice, making the Black Manhattan perfect for cooler months.
To make the Black Manhattan, simply combine 60ml of good rye whisky or bourbon with 30ml of amaro (good brands to look out for include Averna, Amaro Montenegro, and Cynar), a dash of Angostura Bitters, and a dash of orange bitters in a mixing glass. Stir with ice for 30-40 seconds and then strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass and garnish with a dark cherry.
If you want to elevate your Black Manhattan, try using one of the amaros that are infused with interesting ingredients – Tartufo amaro contains black truffles for example – or soak your cherries in bourbon or rye beforehand.
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