I’m not likely to have cocktails too often; I’m much more likely to enjoy a dram of whiskey on its own, with a couple drops of water, or, in the case of a bourbon, maybe some ice. There are a few exceptions, though. I do like a Rusty Nail now and then, as well as a Whiskey Cocktail or Old Fashioned, and, now and then, a Manhattan (or more precisely, a Perfect Manhattan).
What I don’t like to do, though, is overdo the vermouth in a Perfect Manhattan (which has both sweet and dry vermouth). Recently, I read about an aperitif wine that’s Italian, and made similarly to how Lillet used to be made (a French aperitif wine). The difference between Lillet today and in the past is the older version had a bit more bitterness to it. The aperitif I tried is Cocchi Americano, (Coke-y, not Coach-y) and it’s based on cinchona bark, which is used to make quinine, and it’s nicely bitter with other aromatics and a bit of citrus. It comes in Blanc and Rosa versions, and, to me, it’s a bit brighter than vermouth, and gives a nice extra bit to rye whiskey.
A splash of barrel-aged bitters with 1/4 ounce of both Cocchi American Blanc and Cocchi Americano Rosa, with 2 1/2 ounces of rye whiskey are all it takes for a Perfect Manhattan, the way I like them. It’s half the aperitif than usual, but it’s a personal preference. Finish it with a garnish, like a grilled bourbon cherry or an orange twist.
After trying my first of these, I find it’s a nice bit of a change-up from the typical Perfect Manhattan. Little twists on the typical should be on everyone’s bar menu; let your friends appreciate how you do things, and, when at their houses, you get to try things their way. To me, that adds a bit if fun to enjoying a drink with my friends.
- 2½ ounces rye whiskey
- ¼ ounce Cocchi Americano Blanc
- ¼ ounce Cocchi Americano Rosa
- 1 dash barrel aged bitters
- 1 large ice cube
- Garnish of Luxatto or grilled bourbon cherries, or an orange twist
- Add all the liquid ingredients to a class and stir.
- Add the ice and garnish