On a recent cocktail adventure at my favorite neighborhood bar, The Alembic, I decided to try a menu option called “Take Your Chances” where you let the staff have their way with your drink. I told the bartender I wanted to drink bourbon and that I like stiff drinks with a bitter edge, and let him loose to see what he’d concoct.
A few moments later, he set down a dark-looking drink aptly named the Black Manhattan. Similar to a regular Manhattan except with the Italian amaro Averna used in lieu of vermouth, it fit the bill perfectly. How I have not come across this drink before is a mystery, but now that our paths have crossed we’re inseparable.
You can make one at home by following our basic Manhattan recipe and substituting one ounce of Averna for the sweet vermouth. A recipe published in the Washington Post and based on the version made at San Francisco’s Bourbon & Branch adds a dash of orange bitters to the mix.