“Leaving Manhattan, as you know, won first place in the final for the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience. The challenge was to enhance or contrast the existing flavors and notes of Woodford Reserve. It being a cold winter’s day when I pondered on this, I thought touching on chocolate and wood notes would be a good place to start. I felt the use of Punt E Mes would add to the sweetness but would also bring enough bittering elements that once combined with the bittering elements of the orange bitters I would achieve an intriguing balance—plus I read somewhere that Italians love drinking the stuff when eating dark chocolate so in it went!
“For the garnish I had found the dark chocolate stir sticks in a tea house and I thought with the use of the tea syrup and the chocolate already this a perfect fun garnish—the orange spiral added a pop of much needed color and personally I can’t get enough orange essence and oils when I sip bourbon.” Joanne Spiegel.
60 ml (2 oz) Woodford Reserve bourbon
15 ml (.5 oz) Punt E Mes
7.5 ml (.25 oz) dark crème de cacao
7.5 ml (.25 oz) Lapsang Smoked Tea Syrup*
2 dashes orange bitters
1 chocolate or orange flavored stir stick wrapped with orange spiral**
Stir over ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Add the garnish.
*For the Lapsang smoked tea syrup, combine 4 ounces hot strong lapsang souchong tea and 1/2 cup granulated sugar; stir to dissolve the sugar. Let cool to room temperature before using. Refrigerate leftovers.
**When preparing garnish, peel orange spiral next to glass so essential oils spray over glass and cocktail. Wrap spiral around chocolate stick and rest garnish on the lip of the glass off to one side.
Note: Bartenders from sixteen cities across the country came to The Dream Hotel in New York City to show off their twist on the Manhattan cocktail at the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience, an event presented by Woodford along with Esquire magazine, and it was New York bartender Joanne Spiegel of Mercury Bar West that took top honors. gaz was a judge at this event, along with David Wondrich, Leo Robitschek of Eleven Madison Park, and Chris Morris, Master Distiller for Woodford Reserve.
gaz sez: I wrote about this drink in the San Francisco Chronicle, and I was amused to see the following comment from a reader: I might order it in a bar, but to make this at home? Nah. I am not going to galavant all over Clement St. looking for some obscure tea to make some syrup. Now I’m the first to admit that some cocktail recipes have gotten a bit out of control of late, but to think of Lapsang Souchong tea as being too exotic brought a smile to my face. Look in your local bloody supermarket, man! Joanne did a fabulous job with this drink, and she deserves a round of applause. Let’s hear it for Joanne Spiegel!