When bartender Todd Smith invented the Black Manhattan variation in 2005, he adjusted the old recipe using Amaro Averna instead of Sweet Vermouth. A simple twist on the traditional Manhattan recipe - but an effective one. The addition of Amaro makes the cocktail more complex with a lot more herbal bitterness.
The resulting Black Manhattan is boozy and rich in taste. It's a bit heavier than the original recipe, but it also has more flavor. The notes of caramel and chocolate mixed with herbal notes make the cocktail a special drink to sip. -A delight for every Manhattan lover.
What's in a Black Manhattan
The original Manhattan recipe from the 19th century featured only three ingredients: Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, and Angostura bitters.
And the variant by Todd Smith not only swaps in Amaro Averna for Sweet Vermouth. It also adds a second type of cocktail bitters. Just a dash of orange bitters gives the drink a beautiful fruity touch.
So here's the list of ingredients for a Black Manhattan cocktail:
- Rye Whiskey
- Amaro Averna
- Angostura bitters
- Orange cocktail bitters
- Maraschino cherry for garnish
The Amaro category is a collection of bittersweet liqueurs from Italy. These liqueurs are infused with countless herbs, fruit peels, rinds, and roots, which create a distinct herbal taste. And although all Amari are made in a similar way, the difference in taste can be immense.
Amaro Averna is a rather sweet, spicy, and herbal Amaro with flavors of honey and chocolate. It has a lot less bitter notes than Campari, for example.
If you don't have Averna at home and can't find it in a store, you can replace it with a similar Amaro. Ramazzotti and Amaro Meletti are great substitutes for Amaro Averna. But if you have neither, there are some more options. Here you can find the best substitutes for Averna.
The history of the Black Manhattan
As I mentioned, the Black Manhattan was invented by Todd Smith back in 2005. He created this flavorful twist on the original Manhattan while working at Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco.
And it didn't take long for the richer and bittersweet variation to gain fans all around the globe. The distinct chocolate notes and the slight spiciness of Smith's version made the cocktail an instant modern classic.
Adding a Maraschino cherry
A proper Black Manhattan cocktail is garnished with a cherry skewered on a cocktail pick. But don't use those bright red and cheap cocktail cherries. Instead, use genuine Maraschino cherry. These deep dark red cherries are traditionally produced by Luxardo and add a nice touch to any classy drink.
And Maraschino cherries are not only about looks. They also have a pleasant, almost nutty taste to them.
Which cocktail bitters in a Black Manhattan?
The traditional recipe uses regular Angostura aromatic bitters to add depth to the cocktail. In the Black Manhattan variation, Amaro Averna adds another complex layer of flavor which is rounded out beautifully with the help of orange cocktail bitters.
And for orange cocktail bitters, there are some superb choices available. I would recommend either using Angostura orange bitters or Regans orange bitters No.6. Both are of superior quality and bring a delicate fruity orange flavor to the drink.
- 2 oz Rye Whiskey
- 1 oz Amaro Averna
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 dash Orange cocktail bitters
- 1-2 Maraschino cherry
- Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with plenty of ice.
- Stir the cocktail until it's well chilled.
- Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a Maraschino Cherry.