Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Cocktails

Downhill Daring

deep-brown Downhill Daring cocktail in a coupe glass with an orange peel on the rim, served on a round metal tray
Image: / Tim Nusog

When you crave a good cocktail, it’s tough to beat a stirred whiskey drink like the Manhattan or Old Fashioned. These classics are balanced and flavorful, and they contain enough booze to let you know you’ve accomplished something. But should you desire an impressive drink without as much alcohol, there’s the Reverse Manhattan.

This cocktail flips the typical Manhattan ratio on its head, making vermouth the star and giving whiskey a supporting role. It’s typically made with two parts vermouth to one part whiskey, but you have options. And, naturally, creative bartenders keep finding ways to customize the drink.

The Downhill Daring is a Reverse Manhattan variation that was inspired by the Brooklyn cocktail (rye whiskey, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur and Amer Picon) and Philip Greene’s book, “A Drinkable Feast,” which details libations from 1920s Paris. Brian Nixon, the general manager of Truxton Inn and McClellan’s Retreat in Washington, D.C., puts the bitter Italian vermouth Punt e Mes front and center and also enlists the charms of Cocchi Americano, a wine-based aperitif. Bourbon provides structure and a boozy kick, Benedictine adds herbal sweetness and two different bitters lend spicy aromatics and zesty citrus.

The cocktail has a lot going for it. Punt e Mes brings roasty chocolate notes that pair deftly with Benedictine’s herbaceousness and the floral Cocchi Americano. This isn’t a low-alcohol drink, but it does put more emphasis on its lower-ABV components. “It’s a spirituous cocktail without being as dangerous as a standard Manhattan,” says Nixon.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Punt e Mes

  • 1 ounce Old Forester Signature bourbon

  • 1/2 ounce Cocchi Americano aperitivo

  • 1/4 ounce Benedictine

  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

  • 2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6

  • Garnish: orange twist


  1. Add the Punt e Mes, bourbon, Cocchi Americano, Benedictine and both bitters into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a chilled coupe.

  3. Express the oil from an orange peel over the glass and rest the peel on the rim.