Barrel-Aged Manhattan

black cherry, vanilla, clove, tobacco
Kentucky rye whiskey, cocchi di torino, maraschino, absinthe, monk bitters

There are probably as many versions of the iconic Manhattan as there are bars in that fabled metropolis, and these variations date from the 1880s up to today.  Among this bevy of options, we still believe our Barrel-Aged Manhattan is a tour-de-force.  Our Manhattan begins life based on William Smidt’s recipe from 1892.  Found in his book, The Flowing Bowl: What and When to Drink,  “The Only William’s” recipe is for something like an Improved Manhattan, “improving” the common rye whiskey, vermouth, and bitters cocktail with maraschino and two dashes of absinthe.   Once batched, our cocktail lives in an oak barrel seasoned with Madeira wine for a minimum of six weeks.

The aging process lends the cocktail rich flavors of dry toasted wood, baking spices, and cherries.  The addition of absinthe would almost go unnoticed, except that the structure of the cocktail feels radically changed with a new surprising depth and character.  We commonly talk with guests who are ashamed to order so standard of a cocktail with so many options to hand here at West Main.  But we confidently encourage it, quietly telling them this Manhattan will change the way they drink the cocktail for years to come.  We’ve yet to find someone who disagrees.

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