Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Bourbon Cocktails

Proven Perfect

red-hued Proven Perfect cocktail in a coupe, garnished with a skewered cherry
Image: / Tim Nusog

The classic Manhattan is one of the most riffed upon cocktails in existence. Created around 1880, the combination of whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters provides ample space for bartenders to play with the ingredients, switching up base spirits and modifiers to give us noteworthy variations, from the Black Manhattan to the Red Hook. This particular riff, the Proven Perfect, comes from Denver bartender Allison Widdicombe.

She was inspired to make a Manhattan variation that incorporated oolong tea. But rather than dumping tea into the bourbon-based cocktail, Widdicombe created an oolong tea-infused ruby port. She joined that with cardamom-infused Amere Nouvelle, a liqueur with flavors of bitter orange and gentian. Finally, she added a scant teaspoon of Fernet-Branca, the bitingly bitter amaro made from a secret blend of 27 herbs, roots and spices.

The Proven Perfect recipe contains no sweet vermouth or aromatic bitters—two mainstays of the typical Manhattan—but the tea-infused port, Amere Nouvelle and fernet take the place of both ingredients, lending depth and complexity via their herbal bitterness and floral notes. Stirred with ice and garnished with a lemon twist and maraschino cherry, the Proven Perfect is a fun take on the original that’s reminiscent of the classic formula while venturing into uncharted territory.


Watch Now: How to Make a Proven Perfect


  • 2 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon

  • 1/2 ounce cardamom-infused Amere Nouvelle*

  • 1/2 ounce oolong tea-infused ruby port**

  • 1 teaspoon Fernet-Branca

  • Garnish: lemon peel, expressed and discarded

  • Garnish: Luxardo maraschino cherry


  1. Add the bourbon, infused Amer Nouvelle, infused ruby port and Fernet-Branca into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe glass.

  3. Express lemon oils over cocktail and discard the peel.

  4. Garnish with a cherry.

*Cardamom-infused Amer Nouvelle: Add a crushed green cardamom pod to each ounce of liqueur and let steep about 25 minutes. You may wish to taste it as it infuses, as cardamom pods can vary in strength.

**Oolong tea-infused ruby port: Steep loose tea (Widdicombe uses Wuyi Oolong tea and a small amount of rooibos tea) into Graham’s 6 Grapes port. For every 20 ounces of port, add 8 ounces of dry oolong tea and 1 ounce of rooibos. Let steep for about 18 minutes.