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French Quarter Manhattan

5 from 4 votes

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French Quarter Manhattan in a coupe glass with an orange garnish and cocktail pick with cherries
French Quarter Manhattan

We’ll start our 5 Quarantine Manhattans week with the French Quarter Manhattan, a pecan praline-flavored cocktail with a dash of chocolate bitters, but first. . .

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What is a Manhattan cocktail?

A traditional Manhattan has just three ingredients – whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. It has a long and storied history, getting its name from the Manhattan Club in New York in the 1880s. At the time vermouth was rising in popularity in both the US and in Europe, so of course, the Americans created cocktails with it.

Find out more about the history of the Manhattan cocktail and how to make a classic Manhattan cocktail here. It’s likely the cocktail started with rye whiskey, not bourbon, but since we’re adding nut flavors, bourbon is preferred for this whiskey cocktail.

For me, my favorite ratio of whiskey to vermouth in a classic Manhattan cocktail is 2 ounces bourbon to 1 ounce vermouth. I’m keeping that classic ratio here but using a nut liqueur instead of vermouth.

If you want a compilation of some of the easy (and well-known) Manhattan Variations, head to 8 Common Variations of the Manhattan Cocktail.

French Quarter Manhattan

Let me introduce you to a nutty riff on a Manhattan called the French Quarter Manhattan. This is the recipe that started it all. In 2015 I entered this cocktail in the Bourbon Women Not Your Pink Drink Contest amateur competition and it won.

It’s even included in a great Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails book curated by Susan Reigler.

It’s an easy cocktail with only three ingredients, but each ingredient truly matters. It’s a cocktail that lets the nut flavors shine and pulls out lovely sweet and toasted notes from the bourbon. The chocolate bitters added to it are the icing on the cake.

It’s also tremendously easy to batch. I’ve made this many times to take to parties or as a gift for friends who love bourbon cocktails. I’ll include that in the notes for the recipe below. When made in an empty 750 ml bottle, you’ll have enough for about 8 cocktails. Keep it in the fridge and you’ve got your happy hour cocktail ready for you each night of quarantine.

Why French Quarter Manattan?

French Quarter Manhattan in a coupe glass with an orange garnish and cocktail pick with cherries
French Quarter Manhattan

It’s named the French Quarter Manhattan because the flavors remind me of a pecan praline like you’d find in the quarter in New Orleans. The best ones have a touch of chocolate in them, in my opinion, so I wanted to use chocolate bitters to give a hint of that flavor.

You can play with the flavors by changing out the base bourbon spirit you’re using. If you want a very smooth, nutty cocktail, use a lower-proof bourbon and something with lots of nut notes on the palate. For me, that means Woodford, Four Roses Small Batch, or Old Forester 1870. But, I generally look to higher-proof bourbons in my cocktails.

Personally, I prefer higher-proof cocktails with this one. I’ve used Old Forester 1920 to make an outstanding cocktail with this as well as New Riff Bourbon. Both are on the higher-proof end of bourbons.  

Since there are so few ingredients, the liqueur you use for the pecan flavor is critical.  I prefer mine made with Rivulet pecan liqueur. Rivulet is possibly my most favorite nut liqueur. It’s sweet, but not cloying and has this luscious toasted pecan flavor. To be honest, it’s made its way onto ice cream, pancakes and waffles. I have used other pecan liqueurs and they make a nice cocktail, but Rivulet is what I prefer for this combination of flavors.

Garnish here can be simple, a cocktail cherry, or can be a toasted pecan or even a praline! Since most of us are stuck at home, use what’s at hand until you make your next grocery trip and enjoy the flavors.

Other Manhattan Cocktails You Might Enjoy

If you like non-traditional variations on the Manhattan cocktail, check out these other fun Manhattans I’ve created:

Did you try it? I love getting unsolicited DRINK pics from you when you try out a cocktail. Send them along to me on social media. Join me on my social channels at @cocktail_contessa on Instagram and Cocktail Contessa on Facebook and use the hashtags #cocktailcontessa and #bourbonismycomfortfood.

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Recommended Bar Tools

You don’t need every slick, beautiful bar tool out there, but there are several I’ll recommend. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, that does not affect the cost of the items below.) My favorite pieces:

You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:

Previous Quarantine Weeks

Previously, we’ve had a week of Quarantine Old Fashioneds (Breakfast Wakey Wakey, Smoke and Spice, Home School, Taco Truck, and Campari/Bitter Lessons) a week of Quarantine Whiskey Sours (Blackberry Sunset, Whiskey Tiki, Blue Mood Orange, Ya Basic, and Peach Rosemary), but this week we get to my favorite of all whiskey cocktails, the Manhattan. For me the perfect Manhattan is 2 oz of bourbon or rye, 1 oz of a high-end sweet vermouth and a few dashes of bitters. The bitters I use largely depend on the whiskey and vermouth. But we’re here to talk about a specific Manhattan variation.

French Quarter Manhattan in a coupe glass with an orange garnish and cocktail pick with cherries

French Quarter Manhattan

Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktailHeather Wibbels
5 from 4 votes
Course Drinks
Cuisine Bourbon Cocktail
Servings 1

Ingredients
  

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz pecan or praline liqueur I used Rivulet liqueur
  • 3 dashes chocolate bitters
  • Garnish: praline toasted spiced pecan, or cocktail cherry.

Instructions
 

  • Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a praline if you have it, toasted pecans and a cherry if you don’t.

Notes

Batching instructions for 6 to 8 cocktails
In an empty 750 mL bottle add the following
2 cups bourbon
1 cup pecan or praline liqueur
16-24 dashes of chocolate bitters (you’ll need to do a taste test)
¼ to ½ cup water to dilute
Add the 2 cups of bourbon to the bottle. Next, add the dashes of bitters to your praline/pecan liqueur and add it to your bottle. Finish by adding the water to dilute it and then shake the bottle a bit to combine. Store in the fridge until ready to consume. If you love your cocktails super chilled, place in the freezer about an hour before you serve it. Serve neat in a coupe or martini glass with a garnish.
Keyword manhattan, pecan
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on April 7th, 2020
Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktail

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey enthusiast (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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5 thoughts on “French Quarter Manhattan”

  1. Heather you need to do a cocktail book! I am always going back on the website to find a recipe but a book would be awesome!!!! Next on my making list is the Coffee Butterscotch Martini

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    I recently had this on a virtual tasting with you but can’t recall your chocolate bitters of choice. Care to share please? My mouth is watering for another!

    Reply
    • Hi Jackie, I’ve used Fee Brothers Chocolate bitters which are great and a good value, but my favorite chocolate bitters are Scrappy’s or The Bitter Truth. Both are amazing with bourbon cocktails. So glad you enjoyed it! Cheers!

      Reply

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