Try this easy, spirit-forward, three-ingredient cocktail for a fast and approachable cocktail – the Aperol Manhattan, also known as the Little Italy.
Reaching for Aperol instead of amaro in this riff of a riff (a riff of a Black Manhattan) adds citrus flavors and robust bitterness to the cocktail. Topping the cocktail with floral Montenegro amaro adds some balanced woodiness and vegetal notes underneath the florals and citrus.
When I created this cocktail I had no idea it was already a classic, but its simple and available three ingredients plus delicious bittersweet flavor make it obvious why.
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What is a Manhattan?
A Manhattan is a classic whiskey cocktail with just three ingredients: whiskey (usually bourbon or rye), sweet vermouth and bitters. While the ratio of whiskey vermouth varies by each particular drinker’s preference, (much like the martini) you’ll find enthusiasts using anything from 2:1 whiskey to vermouth to a much drier 5:1.
To learn more about the Manhattan, head over to
What Is A Little Italy?
A classic Little Italy was created by Audrey Saunders in 2005 at the famed Pegu Club and included Cynar (an artichoke-based amaro), rye whiskey and sweet vermouth. It’s a perfect balance of rye spice and sweetness from the vermouth as well as the bittersweet and vegetal flavors from the Cynar.
Riffing on the Black Manhattan and the Little Italy with the Aperol Manhattan
When I put together this cocktail today I hadn’t yet experienced the Little Italy cocktail out and about. But, as soon as I search for it on the interwebs, the Little Italy cocktail name and specs popped up.
The original Little Italy did not include Aperol, but since I wanted to use a citrus-heavy bourbon, I paired the Elijah Craig bourbon with Aperol’s grapefruit, orange and lemon notes.
I decided to add in Montenegro because it was floral and had that same citrus underpinning on the nose. It was the right choice for this combination of elements.
Using Cynar would have darkened the color of the cocktail and flavor. I preferred the floral/citrus pairing from using the Montenegro Amaro.
How to Make an Aperol Manhattan
The classic Manhattan is fast and easy – with just three ingredients, whiskey, vermouth and bitters, it’s a quick stir over ice in mixing glass into a chilled and prepped coupe glass. The Aperol Manhattan is no different, except with specs closer to a Black Manhattan, the bitters are replaced with amaro – and in this case, two types: Aperol and Montenegro.
Other Cocktails You Might Enjoy
- Best Manhattan Variations
- Black Licorice Manhattan
- Smoky Cynar Old Fashioned
- Aperol Sour
- Rhubarb Aperol Spritz
- Earl Grey Spring Bourbon Spritz
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Aperol Manhattan (Little Italy riff)
- 2 oz bourbon
- 1 oz Aperol
- ½ oz Montenegro amaro
- Garnish: cherries
- Combine bourbon, Aperol and amaro in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir for 30 seconds or until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with cherries.