Hospitality @ Home: The Maple Manhattan…

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If you thought I was just making up the “Maple Manhattan” from the previous post for alliterative effect, you would be right.
But then I decided to really make it up.  Enlisting my friend Michael Shearin, Sommelier & beverage director of Drago Centro in Los Angeles, as a sounding board.
I was married only to using whiskey, replacing the sweet vermouth with maple syrup, and garnishing with preserved cranberries, rather than a cherry.
Michael had the brilliant the advice to also add Orange bitters and to macerate the cranberries in an American Whiskey (like Makers’ Mark), rather than the Cognac I had been planning on, because “a Thanksgiving cocktail should be American.” A truth that I was mortified that I had not arrived at myself….

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Maple Manhattan

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1 ½ oz. American Whiskey (I like Buffalo Trace’s Elmer T. Lee)
½ oz Maple Syrup (Grades A or B are both good, B is less refined, &
more complexly Maple. Adjust the amount for the level of sweetness you prefer.)
Dash of Orange Bitters (If you can’t find orange, lemon works as well)
Twist of Orange (or lemon, if you use lemon bitters)
Whiskey soaked cranberries
Pour Whiskey, maple syrup, and orange bitters into a shaker filled with ice. Stir 30 times. Strain into martini glass. Twist orange twist over the top of the cocktail, garnish with three whiskey soaked cranberries.
Notes: A classic Manhattan should definitely be stirred, rather than shaken. Since the Maple syrup has a bit more body than Sweet Vermouth, (and I may or may not be the impatient type), I won’t judge anybody who shakes rather than stirs this drink.
Also, the cranberries will not sink like a cherry does, so I like to put them on a swizzle stick.
Whiskey Cranberries
(adapted from a recipe by Mark Gaier and Clark Fraser, as it appeared in O Magazine 11/2010)
1 ½ cups sugar, plus ¼ c. for dusting
2 tbs lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed in cold water
¼ c. American Whiskey (like Makers’ Mark)
[I replaced the Cognac in Gaier & Fraser’s recipe with whiskey, and added a little extra sugar for further maceration, b/c my first cranberries were still a bit too tart)
Combine water, lemon juice, 1 ½ c. sugar, & salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar dissolves. Bring back to a boil, then lower to a simmer before adding the cranberries. Gently steep the cranberries for 1 minute. Strain berries and discard liquid. After cranberries have cooled a few minutes, combine with whiskey in an airtight container. Dust with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
Note: I reserved the cooking liquid and added a few extra cranberries, and reduced a bit more to make a seasonally appropriate cranberry simple syrup. Uses tbd…
Once the holidays have passed, this drink is  also great as a manlier option for a brunch, just replace the cranberries with the traditional cherry, it’ll still work out fine.
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