Just because the classic brown-spirit cocktail is always stirred doesn’t mean it has to be strong. Manhattans that switch the amounts of whiskey and vermouth flaunt all of the flavor without the heady proof. Mix up one (or several rounds) of these tempered tipples that are sure to be the star of the show at your next cocktail party.
Diamond District (Amor y Amargo, New York City)
Max Green, the head bartender at Amor y Amargo and managing partner at Blue Quarter, created this drink so guests at a weekly three-cocktail event called Two Weeks Notice could leave happily buzzed, not boozed. “Flipping that vermouth and whiskey ratio can really save you,” he says. Sancho-pepper-infused whiskey adds spice and bright citrus notes that are pulled together by lime bitters.
Downhill Daring (Truxton Inn, Washington, D.C.)
The Brooklyn cocktail and Philip Greene’s recent book “A Drinkable Feast” about 1920s Parisian libations influenced this drink, whose name is inspired by a Norman Rockwell piece. The roasty chocolate notes of Punt e Mes pair with Bénédictine’s herbaceousness and the sweet flavor of Cocchi Americano aperitivo. “It's a spirituous cocktail without being as dangerous as a standard Manhattan,” says Brian Nixon, the general manager of Truxton Inn and McClellan’s Retreat.
Full Monte (Gertie’s Bar at The 404 Kitchen, Nashville)
When you swap the ingredients in a Manhattan, “the other component shines through, and it unveils a more rich, aromatic and almost spicy component to the cocktail,” says Jenelle Engleson, the assistant general manager and beverage director at Gertie’s Bar. She prefers Amaro Montenegro for its low ABV and spicy profile that leads to a perfectly balanced drink.
Topsy Turvy (Donna, New York City)
Donna partner Jeremy Oertel wanted to make a version of his favorite cocktail with similar flavors that he could quaff in the afternoon or as a pre-dinner apéritif. “It’s sessionable and won’t knock you out with one,” he says. “It’s also fun to make the vermouth or fortified wine be the star of the show.”Continue to 5 of 5 below.
Reverse Manhattan (The Roosevelt Room, Austin)
Though vermouth is mainly used today as a modifier, The Roosevelt Room co-owner and operator Justin Lavenue points out it was poured more liberally in the mid to late 1800s. “In a lot of ways, the Reverse Manhattan is an homage to how people used to drink vermouth and homage to the genesis of cocktails as a whole,” he says. “If balanced correctly, [it] can be a wildly delicious drink.”