Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Bourbon Cocktails


An embellished, angular cocktail coupe holds a crimson drink and a long, curled lemon zest. It’s set against a stone wall and rests on a white base. / Tim Nusog

When it comes to drinks related to horse races, there is one clear standout: The Mint Julep, the famed signature drink of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. And while the Kentucky Derby is arguably the most famous of horse races in the United States, there are others. One such race is Preakness Stakes, held annually on the third Saturday in May at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.

It’s that race that gives the name to Preakness, a variation on the classic Manhattan. The drink comes from Allen Katz, a bartender, spirits expert and founder of the New York Distilling Company. He was also the host of “The Cocktail Hour” for Martha Stewart Living Radio on SiriusXM. In his drink, Katz makes only one minor tweak to the original Manhattan recipe, but it adds a considerable amount of nuance: He adds a splash of Benedictine.

The French liqueur Benedictine is in that family of spirits where the ancient recipe—reportedly developed in 1510 by the Benedictine monk Don Bernardo Vincelli—is only known by a handful. Like that of Chartreuse, the recipe is a tightly kept secret consisting of dozens of botanicals, including angelica, hyssop and lemon balm. In bartending, the spirit is primarily known for its role in the famed Vieux Carré from New Orleans. However, it also serves well in this Manhattan, adding additional complexity and botanical depth.

Katz is less specific about the other two major ingredients in the Preakness, though he does call for an American rye whiskey rather than a bourbon. Rye’s signature spice is welcome in Manhattans generally, helping to cut through some of the vermouth sweetness. As with any drink, though, it is up to taste preferences, and no one will fault you for substituting your favorite bourbon. Similarly, the sweet vermouth is up to personal choice, but a higher quality vermouth will generally make a higher quality cocktail, admittedly with higher price tag.

One final, minor twist to the drink is in the choice of garnish: normally a Manhattan calls for the signature cherry, though some drinkers might prefer a thin slice of orange peel for the extra oils and aromatics. The Preakness calls for neither, but rather a lemon peel, whose oils will help brighten the drink’s dark, lush profile.


  • 1 1/2 ounces American rye whiskey

  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth

  • 1/4 ounce Benedictine

  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

  • Garnish: lemon twist


  1. Add the whiskey, sweet vermouth, Benedictine and bitters into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe.

  3. Garnish with a lemon twist.