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 Bénédictine.
The French liqueur Bénédictine is in that family of spirits where its ancient recipe—reportedly developed in 1510 by the Benedictine monk Don Bernardo Vincelli—is only known by a handful. Like Chartreuse, it’s a tightly kept secret recipe 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 works well in Manhattans generally, helping to cut through some of the sweetness of the vermouth. 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, as well.
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 its dark, lush profile.
- 1 1/2 ounces American rye whiskey
- 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1/4 ounce Bénédictine
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- Garnish: lemon twist
Add all in the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice.
Stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe.
Garnish with a lemon twist.