The Christmas Eve cocktail is ready, courtesy of @watsonsbarrelagedsyrup (they generously sent me some samples to play with) and the richness of the maple syrup was an incredible asset to the mouthfeel and smoothness of the cocktails. I'm not a huge fan of overly sweet drinks and amaro is an ingredient I love to add because of the bitterness and complexity. I started with the idea of a black Manhattan and did a gingerbread twist.
2 oz bourbon @willettdistillery Johnnie Drum
0.75 Foro Amaro
0.5 Watson's barrel-aged maple syrup
0.25 Allspice Dram
0.25 barspoon molasses
8 drops gingerbread bitters
Garnish: dried orange slice or a piece of candied ginger
Combine bourbon, amaro, maple syrup, allspice dram, molasses and bitters in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a dried orange or candied ginger.
You can set one out for Santa if you like, or just sip on that second one while you finish last minute preparation before gifts, whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, the Solstice or any of the hundred other winter festivals. Stay warm and Happy Holidays to you all.
You know how every once in a while a cocktail just comes out right the first time. And this was one I wasn't really looking for. I had a standard Manhattan recipe, but we've always got an open bottle of Johnny Drum, so I wanted to see how it matched with the vermouth I had open - Cocchi's Vermouth Di Torino. To match with bitters, I stood in front of the bitters box in the bourbon cabinet and alternatively nosed the Johnny Drum and the bitters until I found two that matched. And Oh, My God.
This Manhattan is perfect for me. It's got a great balanced of sweet from the vermouth and bourbon nose and taste. The bitters heighten all the baking spices I get from the bourbon. It's so good members of my family who never drink Manhattans will ask for this one any time they visit.
I'll add the batch instructions at the end. In case you've got a Manhattan lover who needs a gift.
The Contessa's Manhattan
2 oz Johnny Drum
1 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
5 drops Woodford's Sorghum and Sassafras bitters
3 drops Old Forester's Bohemian bitters
Garnish: orange peel and/or cherry
Add the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an expressed orange peel and/or cherry.
The Contessa's BATCHED Manhattan
2 cups Johnny Drum
1 cup Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
35 drops Woodford's Sorghum and Sassafras bitters
20 drops Old Forester's Bohemian bitters
1/2 cup water
Pour ingredients into a 30 oz container, stir and place in the fridge until well-chilled. I keep a bottle in the fridge for those last minute visitors needing a cocktail. Mix for a house-warming or hostess gift for those bourbon-lovers in your house. This makes 8 cocktails.
PSA: Keep your Vermouth in the fridge at all times!
Heather Wibbels is a whiskey enthusiast (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching cocktails, making cocktails and drinking cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location. For more information about her favorite whiskey group, head over to Bourbon Women and join the women's whiskey revolution!