Black Manhattan Cocktail is a time-worn classic that has inspired generations towards the art of mixology. The quest to create a rich and smooth concoction led to pure indulgence.
Almost every liqueur has this ambiguity about its origin which makes it intriguing yet fun to imbibe. The Manhattan Cocktail, which is one part vermouth, two parts whiskey, and a dash of bitters, has a fascinating history as well.
Some say it originated in the year 1870 at the Manhattan Club (New York City). Ian Marshall created it in a banquet for Samuel J. Tilden, the presidential candidate at that time. It became popular due to the banquet, and later people referred to it as the Manhattan Cocktail relating it to the name of the club where it was first mixed.
Others believe that the Manhattan Cocktail was invented by Black, a bartender at the Hoffman’s House located on Broadway running through the district of Manhattan.
The Black Manhattan Cocktail was created in 2005 by Todd Smith, the veteran mixologist at Bourbon & Branch (San Francisco). It was a flavorful take on the classic Manhattan as dark Amaro replaced sweet Vermouth and spicy Rye took the place of Bourbon.
So this concoction has two parts of Rye Whiskey and one part Amaro along with a dash of Orange and Aromatic Bitters.
This concoction keeps shifting flavors depending on the proportion of liqueurs used. It becomes very boozy if the same proportions of whiskey and Amaro are followed as the classic Manhattan, as both whisky and Amaro make their presence felt.
Although the rye and bitters inculcate citrusy and spicy notes, they are overall sweet, smooth, and faintly herbal. We owe this flavor to the following ingredients:
These Amarocomes are in the middle of the spectrum of Amari, which are either too sweet or too bitter. It has caramel, honey, citrus, and anise notes making it taste spicy and herbal. It can be enjoyed neat, but adding it in the Black Manhattan leaves you asking for more.
The rye whiskey, when added in Black Manhattan, is a game-changer. Its spicy and peppery aftertaste kicks you more aggressively than bourbon.
Bitters are the salt and pepper of your Black Manhattan Cocktail, and these are essential to balance out the flavors. The combination of macerated orange peels, spices, and herbs found in the orange bitters gives the drink a full flavor instead of the stop and start blend of components.
The bitter truth in the Black Manhattan Cocktail can be credited to the aromatic bitters. These are known to augment the flavor profile of this cocktail. The intensity and complexity it creates in the drink are due to infused botanicals, dried flowers, and herbs.
So gather your bar tools and get hold of a mixing glass. Stack the glass with ice and pour all the ingredients. Stir well with a bar spoon and strain straight out in a coupe. Now garnish with cherry or olives, depending on your mood.
This groundbreaking concoction will have your friends drooling over your bar counter. The dark color and smooth texture will tempt you to slurp your drink all the way.
As the Manhattan spirit provides a perfect canvas to experiment with, let’s look into some alternatives to the Black Manhattan Cocktail that you can make by simply swapping the base spirits; bourbon, or rye.
- Rob Roy: This concoction welcomes scotch in place of bourbon or rye and works better with Peychaud’s bitters rather than Angostura.
- Emerald: If you are in the mood for a softer variation, opt for Emerald and use Irish whiskey to replace the base spirit. But, again, fresh vermouth will have better results.
- Saratoga: Looking for chocolaty sweetness? Just split the base between cognac and rye whiskey to imbibe this antique concoction.
- Hernandez: Who can say ‘No’ to vanilla? Choose either Navan or Tuaca as the vanilla liqueur and pour it into your cocktail instead of bourbon or rye. Enjoy your drink with enhanced flavors.
Despite having so many variations to choose from, many are still loyal to the Black Manhattan Cocktail. It is about the aura it creates and the nostalgia tagged along with it. This simple yet brilliant blend is still the best-selling whiskey cocktail in the world.
So get your hands on this deep and complex drink and get ready to experiment with life.