In previous articles I’ve written about my wonderful nephew Michael, whom I share many tastes with and is my most favorite person ever to share a cocktail with. His sensibilities are like mine, he’d rather drink one incredibly crafted cocktail then dull his senses with anything less than extraordinary. His mother is an amazing cook and he’s fortunate enough to live with a wonderful lady whose mother has a beautiful home in wine country so quite frequently he ventures into Northern California to have enjoy drinks at some of the fabulous bars there. His current favorite is the bar at Cyrus, a wonderful restaurant nestled in the heart of the Sonoma wine country. www.cyrusrestaurant.com
When he came to Cleveland last month, I promised him an experience as good if not better than what he has enjoyed in California, so of course, I took him to my favorite bar in the Tremont area of Cleveland, The Velvet Tango Room. http://www.velvettangoroom.com
The Velvet Tango Room is a wonderful bar that specializes in absolutely marvelous handcrafted cocktails that possess “soul”. When you walk into VTR, you are immediately greeted by knowledgeable bartenders and gorgeous baskets of fresh citrus fruits and eggs as well as bottles of incredible homemade bitters. They make what is without a doubt the best Manhattan that I’ve ever had in two different varieties, Bourbon or Rye. One of the wonderful pleasures of the Velvet Tango Room is their very luscious wine syrup that they use in many of their drinks, but most notably their Manhattans! The syrup is delicious and we have yet to figure out it’s secrets. I love the Rye version, Michael loves the Bourbon. Either way it was inevitable that he would go home to Portland and give this drink his inevitably delicious stamp!
What follows is the recipe and the delightful email that I received from him several days ago! The Art of the Bar is a wonderful book and I recommend it to anyone interested in learning how to craft a fabulous drink. The changes that Michael has made are wonderful, as good as my favorite Manhattan and he’s eased the work load a bit by using the Carpano Antigua, which is a very special red vermouth only recently available in this country. At any rate, try his recipe, add your own touches and let me know what you think!
" Hello Aunt Beth!
The Manhattan recipe in "The Art of the Bar", the Absinthe cocktail book, is spot on. It's a very close approximation to what Velvet Tango Room makes. You really need to try it. Their recipe is as follows. I recommend some changes in brackets.
2 oz. Bourbon
1 oz. [1.25 oz] Carpano antiqua vermouth (this is a really extremely good Italian sweet vermouth--it's the essential part, nearly as good as the Velvet Tango Room's wine syrup. I recommend 1.25 oz instead of 1 oz.)
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters [I used Regan's orange bitters #6; I hear Angostura just came out with their own and that it's quite good. ]
Stirred 30 times on ice.
Strain after stirring--self-evident but important, so if you publish the recipe, stick that in. The Vermouth is *so* great, I'm tempted just to have it on ice... and if you get the cherries, definitely muddle two with an orange slice and a scant 1/4 tsp of the cherry syrup (instead of sugar or simple syrup) in an old fashioned glass, then ice cubes, 1.5 oz bourbon and a dash or three of your choice of bitters. It's been the best old fashioned yet.
Use 3 brandied cherries on a stick for garnish, plus orange peel. [Instead of brandied cherries, I used, and I think that Velvet Tango Room uses, Amarena Fabbri cherries. They're great wild Italian cherries in a heavy syrup. Actually, the juice from them really improves any Old Fashioned or Manhattan!
Anyway, give it a shot, and let me know what you think. We should figure out the wine reduction, but my impression is that this is at least 5/6ths as good, with much less work.
All of my favorite drinks so far are bourbon-themed... I need to branch out. Maybe rye? Little steps.
Tell me...How could I not love that kid!