The Black Manhattan, a dark and rich cousin of the classic cocktail.
After years of stirring and shaking, infusing and mixing, we’ve come to the conclusion that the Manhattan is our favorite cocktail. We’re not saying we want one all the time—only when the need for a high-octane jolt of whiskey and vermouth dashed with a little bitters begs to be imbibed. But sometimes, when switching out rye for a bourbon or using Carpano Antica instead of sweet vermouth isn’t enough of a flavor-profile change, we like to open up the Averna and make a Black Manhattan. For those of you who have never had Averna, do. Averna is a Sicilian amaro, a bitter lower-alcohol liqueur distilled from and mixed with natural ingredients. It’s very Italian and is a part of many natives’ daily ritual, drunk with soda, to stimulate the appetite (think Campari). Some drink it after dinner, to aid the digestion. Averna in particular is on the sweeter side, very dark, with hints of caramel, cocoa, coffee, and menthol. Once considered solely a digestivo, Averna is now found in cocktail bars and restaurant bars throughout the U.S.
Making a Black Manhattan is simple: just use Averna instead of sweet vermouth. For our recipe, we like to use Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters instead of Angostura.
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)
1 ounce Averna
2 dashes whiskey bitters
brandied cherry, as garnish
The first thing you notice about the Black Manhattan is its color: shimmery almost-ebony. The second thing you notice is its aroma: complex, sweet, herbal. The third thing you notice, the taste. It’s a potent drink, stronger than a Manhattan, so be careful because you may not be able to stop at just one.
Once you’ve had a Black Manhattan, it’s difficult to get Averna out of your head (or tastebuds, rather). We started experimenting with Averna mixed with other spirits, and Steve came up with a recipe that puts Averna in the fore. He calls it Il Bravo, and its another dark cousin to the Manhattan, only he uses cognac.
(created by Steve Schul)
1 1/4 ounces cognac
3/4 ounce. Grand Marnier
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
lemon peel, as garnish
Stir in ice for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add peel.
You can always lighten up Il Bravo by adding some ice and a splash of soda.