Paint the Town Red: The Red Manhattan

The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 RecipesI found the Red Manhattan in Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes listed under Manhattan, where he has six different versions of the Manhattan. To understand my reaction to the recipe, here’s what you do. Stir together with ice:

  • 2 1/2 oz Absolut Kurant
  • 3/4 oz Saint Raphael Apertif de France
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry. DeGroff notes that if you don’t have the Saint Raphael, you can substitute Punt e Mes. That’s what I did because I have no idea what Saint Raphael is. Punt e Mes, it is a type of Italian vermouth made by Carpano (the same people who bring us Antica). As one of the bartenders at Anvil told us as I was trying to describe this stuff to a friend, “It’s as if sweet vermouth and Campari had a baby.” That’s a good description because Punt e Mes takes the spiciness of sweet vermouth with its cinnamon and cloves and adds the bitterness of Campari. I love this stuff, of course.

But I was not thrilled about the recipe for the Red Manhattan because it used Absolut Kurant. I actually bought a bottle of that stuff on a lark several months ago and never even opened it. I had moved beyond vodka by that point and didn’t have a reason to use the Kurant. But since Dale DeGroff mentions it, it’s at least worth trying once. Despite my skepticism that it was just a marketing ploy to get people to use Absolut Kurant, I figured I would at least give it a try. Heck, at least it isn’t the Red Manhattan version made with that Red Stag Jim Beam stuff.

This Red Manhattan is good, though. I was surprised and wanted another one. The fruitiness of the Kurant goes strangely well with the bitters and the spicy bitterness of the the Punt e Mes. It has the spice notes on the tongue with a more fruity nose, as if a blackberry had that Tajin Chili Powder stuff all over it.

Go figure: a marketing ploy can create something decent.

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