For this week’s Manhattan Monday we have another variation on the classic called the Little Italy; where we use two of the most well know Italian aperitif’s, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth and Cynar. The former is the oldest vermouth, dating back to 1786, and widely regarded as the bar by which all other vermouth’s are judged, the latter is relatively new in the world of fortified wines, having first appeared in 1951 and is an amaro [bitter liqueur that does not contain an herb from the wormwood family,] not a vermouth. In this variation, the bitter Cynar replaces the usual Angostura or other bitters. Here’s the recipe:
Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice, stir for about 30 seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.
The Little Italy is, in my opinion, noticeably more bitter both up front and on the finish. Surprisingly in the middle is where it shines with the sweetness of the Carpano and rye spices shining through. The up front bitterness I think is kind of a system shock which prepares your tastebuds for the ensuing savor, where as the bitter finish is more of the numb tongue feel you would get from tasting cocktail bitters straight.
If regular Manhattan’s are too sweet for you and you don’t want to go for a more whiskey forward spicy version, this might be the balance you’re looking for.