In recent years, whiskey–in all of its varieties: bourbon, rye, scotch (whisky), Tennessee–has enjoyed a most welcome (in the opinion of this writer) resurgence in popularity. An explosion of brands and different distillations and strengths for what Native Americans in the old west once dubbed “fire water” has hit liquor store shelves. These spirits’ popularity has also resulted in a creative renaissance among bartenders (or mixologists, if that’s what the folks behind the bar at your favorite watering hole call themselves) in how to serve it in new and more palatable ways than the way your grandpa used to: a shot and a beer.
One new favorite of ours comes to us from the really fine folks at Nick’s Restaurants (nicksrestaurants.com). They call it simply the Maple Manhattan. It is a delicious combination of Templeton Rye (templetonrye.com), dry vermouth, muddled cherries and maple syrup. This isn’t exactly your dad’s Manhattan: a mixture of rye or bourbon and sweet vermouth shaken over ice and served up with maraschino cherry in a martini glass. Although people still drink those, us included, we’re very happy when we find somebody who wasn’t quite satisfied with the traditional, and somewhat over sweet, version. In Nick’s spin on this classic, the vermouth and the syrup balance each other nicely without overwhelming the flavor and character of the rye and it’s served over rocks. Well, over rock to be more precise: a single, large cube resting in a rocks glass. Nick’s places–all five of them–are located in Los Angeles and the surrounding area, but fear not, you can still enjoy this excellent creation in the comfort of your own barcalounger.
In a rocks glass, muddle two Luxardo cherries. In a cocktail shaker or tall glass, stir (don’t shake!) with ice 1.5 ounces of Templeton rye, 1/2 ounce of dry vermouth, a couple of dashes of angostura bitters, and a tablespoon of maple syrup (the good stuff, please, not Aunt Jemima’s). If you have a mold for one, drop a large ice cube or globe in the rocks glass on top of the muddled cherries. If you don’t have a mold, no worries, two or three regular sized ice cubes will do. Strain the whiskey mix into the rocks glass and garnish either with a whole cherry or, our preference, an orange peel. Then sip and enjoy next to a warm fire or, even better, a warm significant other.