Manhattans were the one of the first cocktails I started drinking, back around my ole’ college days. While sophisticated on the outside, they are accessible and sweet – and a total gateway drink. My friends and I would seek out places that made them “well” – though, honestly, we could really only discern when they were really, really bad.
While I still like a well-made Manhattan, it just is not something I find myself ordering at a bar all that often any more. There usually has to be some kind of “hook” to get my attention on a menu – maybe they barrel-aged it or use some interesting house-made ingredients. In the case of Tryst and their Chokin’ in Manhattan, they add one of my favorite liqueurs, Cynar.
Cynar is a bitter Italian liqueur with a variety of botanical flavors, but predominately artichoke. It is bittersweet and vegetal and I am a total sucker for it. In the Chokin’ in Manhattan, it is used as the bitters component, and Cocchi Americano takes the place of sweet vermouth. The resulting drink is less sweet than some Manhattans – due also to replacing the cherry with a wee shrivel of lemon peel – and a pleasant and interesting twist.