When made with good whiskey, high-quality vermouth and bitters, the Manhattan is an unimpeachable classic, revered by drinkers since it first appeared at New York City’s Manhattan Club around 1880. Like many old-school winners, the cocktail has resulted in many twists. But one of those variations simply flips the typical 2:1 whiskey-to-vermouth ratio on its head, giving vermouth the spotlight.
When you swap the ingredients in a Manhattan, “the other component shines through, and it unveils a more rich, aromatic and almost spicy component,” says Jenelle Engleson, a beverage director and sommelier in Nashville. She skips vermouth entirely in her Full Monte cocktail, choosing instead to pair rye whiskey with Amaro Montenegro. This Italian liqueur dates back to 1885 and is made from a secret blend of 40 botanicals, which coalesce into a predominate flavor of orange peels, florals and spice.
Engleson appreciates Amaro Montenegro’s relatively low 23% ABV and its spicy profile, finding that it creates a balanced Manhattan variation that is as breezy to make as it is to drink. Given the rise of amari at bars around the world, and drinkers collectively acquiring a taste for digestifs, the Full Monte is a friendly option that will fall right into the comfort zone for many stirred-cocktail aficionados.
The Reverse Manhattan (and similar drinks that dial up the vermouth or amaro while dialing down the full-proof spirit) isn’t a new concept. This approach was common in the 19th-century when vermouth featured prominently in drinks, including in the Manhattan, whose formula leaned heavier on the vermouth than today’s recipe. The Full Monte gives a nod to that tradition while establishing its own flavorful identity.
- 2 ounces Amaro Montenegro
- 1 ounce Knob Creek rye whiskey
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 orange twist
- Garnish: Luxardo maraschino cherry
Add the amaro, whiskey and bitters into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
Express the oil from the orange twist over the top of the drink and discard.
Garnish with a Luxardo maraschino cherry.