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Leslie’s Kick Ass Bourbon Manhattan

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manhattan cocktail with orange leaf cutout garnish
Leslie’s Kick Ass Manhattan

How about a Kick Ass Bourbon Manhattan for your Thirsty Thursday? When a whiskey specialist comes over to learn about cocktails, and brings along a sample or two, you show her how to build a cocktail with her already excellent tasting and aromatic skills. This easy process led to a 5- hour tasting/cocktail jam session, a number of excellent cocktails, and of course fun experimentation. In this case, Leslie McBride of Whiskey Is My Yoga assembled a top-notch Manhattan using some cocktail fundamentals we covered in tastings earlier in the day.

When it was time to take the reins and build a Manhattan of her own, Leslie reached unerringly for her J Mattingly O. G. Expression she’d brought along for me to try. The fun part about working with whiskey folks is they love sharing their whiskey and the stories that come about from it.

I had my collection here, and while I do have a large number of whiskey bottles, Leslie has made a profession of finding and tasting excellent whiskies and developing a method for building blends and batches to perfection. Her collection has far more rare bottles than mine.

manhattan cocktail with orange leaf cutout garnish
Leslie’s Kick Ass Manhattan

But the O.G. was a high proof expression that tasted like it was just over 100 proof. The mouth-feel was complex, but not overly aggressive. As she built the Manhattan, I  gave her a choice of sweet vermouths, and of my collection, she chose the Cocchi Vermouth di Torino (my favorite as well). She wanted to build on the lighter fruit notes she tasted in the bourbon so she went with B.D. Bittering’s ginger apricot bitters and Woodford’s orange bitters.

Paired with the high proof bourbon, the bitters and the vermouth made a most excellent Manhattan, so we’re calling it Leslie’s Kick Ass Manhattan. Now, as we were drinking it we didn’t have quite as fancy a garnish as this. I make it a point to stay away from paring knives after I’ve had any alcohol. But the wonder of photographing it later meant I could add a little fancy to the cocktail.

If you enjoy Manhattan riffs, take a look at any of the following: Balanced Perfection (Perfect Manhattan), Coffee Manhattan (I can’t stop making them), Chocolate Ginger Manhattan, and the French Quarter Manhattan.

manhattan cocktail with orange leaf cutout garnish
Leslie’s Kick Ass Manhattan
manhattan cocktail with orange leaf cutout garnish

Leslie’s Kick Ass Manhattan

Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktailHeather Wibbels
Rest assured you’ll taste the bourbon in this spirit-forward Manhattan that keeps the whiskey front and center. It’s a whiskey-lover’s Manhattan tailored specifically to the whiskey chosen as the base spirit to accentuate the flavors and aromas present in the bourbon.
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Course Drinks
Cuisine Bourbon Cocktail
Servings 1


  • 2 oz J. Mattingly O.G. Single Barrel
  • 0.75 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
  • 30 drops ginger apricot bitters
  • 10 drops Woodford Reserve orange bitters
  • Garnish: orange peel optional – lemon verbena leaf


  • Combine spirits and bitters in a mixing glass, fill with ice and stir until the outside of the mixing glass is very cold, about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with an orange peel and lemon verbena leaf.
Keyword Bourbon 30, manhattan
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By on July 9th, 2020
Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktail

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey and cocktail author (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching and designing cocktails, drinking cocktails, and teaching cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location.

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