What: Black Manhattan with Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon, Amaro Averna, and Angostura bitters, garnished with a Luxardo maraschino cherry
Where: All Purpose, 1250 9th St. NW; (202) 840-6174; allpurposedc.com
What You Should Be Drinking: The genesis of the amaro-based version of the Manhattan is somewhat up for debate: a few bars in New York as well as Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco claim to have mixed it first. All Purpose general manager Jared Barker wanted to add it to his classic cocktail-leaning menu at Mike Friedman’s new pizza restaurant in Shaw. He played around with different combinations of whiskey and amaro, keeping in mind the spicy, sweet, bitter, and herbal tones of each, until he found the right synergistic balance. Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon is stirred with Amaro Averna and Angostura bitters, then served up in a coupe glass and garnished with a Luxardo cherry. “For the uninitiated, standard Manhattan drinker this drink can be a bit jarring,” he admits. ”It’s a bit of a change up—but a really easy change up that’s not crazy bitter.”
Why You Should Be Drinking It: Four Roses Yellow Label is a versatile, middle-of-the-road mixing bourbon that’s not too “wonky,” Barker says. Subbing in Averna instead of the usual sweet vermouth tones down sweetness and ramps up bitterness—but in an accessible, mild way. “The flavor profile is much more earthy and herbaceous rather than sweet,” he explains. “The bitterness of Averna is tamed by the rich, caramel flavors of the bourbon.” The New York–Italy marriage of flavors might not be for everyone, but it’s an easy gateway into the multi-layered deliciousness of amaro. “This drink is boozy but approachable. Whiskey drinkers find comfort in the familiar flavors but get to experience an even darker side of the flavor spectrum.” The cocktail’s herbal notes help wash down Friedman’s house-made orange-fennel salami.