Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Even though some of my favorite cocktails are classics, I’m ALWAYS one to mess around with a good thing. Give me a dirty martini and I’ll make it even dirtier in new and wonderful ways that probably make purists cringe.
Lately we’ve been in a Manhattan kind of phase. While I prefer Maker’s Mark, I’ve been making do with Jim Beam. But the one thing I demand in my Manhattan is a cherry. And when my jar of maraschinos came to an end the other day, I trotted up the street to Castroni, where I know I can get almost anything - cocktail and otherwise - I want.
The problem with going to Castroni is that I always end up buying things I had no intention of bringing home. Impulse purchase big time. Besides carrying all sorts of exotic ingredients from countries all over the world, they also have an incredible selection of Italian goodies that I didn’t even know existed.
So there I was, about to grab my embarrassingly red jar of maraschino cherries when my eyes started wandering across the shelf full of other preserved fruits. Whole plums, ripe peaches and fuzzy little raspberries, all floating jewel like in sparkling syrups. But since cherries - and their cocktail uses - was still on my mind, my hand followed my eyes and I picked up a ruby red jar of amarene.
That would be sour cherries. Yes, they cost about four times the price of the normal maraschino. But I was betting they would taste four times as good.
Come cocktail hour back home, I pulled out the bourbon, vermouth and bitters and cracked open the jar of cherries. A tiny sip of the cherry syrup was so good I started giggling. Tart, sweet, thick and intense. It was cherry ambrosia.
So as I measured out my Manhattan ingredients - pouring them into the shaker - I added a two teaspoons of that syrup. I know adding sugar to a Manhattan brings it borderline close to an Old Fashioned. But there was no muddling of fruit going on, promise.
It was kind of like adding some of the olive brine to a dirty martini. Just a tad more of a good thing.
And that can’t be bad, right?
Dirty Sour Cherry Manhattan
2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz sweet red vermouth
6 dashes orange bitters
2 tsp sour cherry syrup
3 sour cherries, in syrup
Add bourbon, vermouth, bitters and syrup to cocktail shaker. Add ice and stir (don’t shake). Strain into cocktail glass, add cherries and enjoy.