Bar Minty: Metropole, Rough Waters, French Manhattan Cocktail Family

French Manhattan

One of my favorite cocktails is a Manhattan. I love playing with different variations by switching out the vermouth or perhaps adding amaro. And occasionally I’ll switch out the spirit, usually for rum. Lately I’ve been playing with brandy.

The other day I overheard a woman ask for Chambord at the store. She was making French Manhattans. My confused brain immediately thought about French martinis (one of my regular drinks back in the 90s). However, one of the first hits on google for a French Manhattan does not contain Chambord. It’s from David Lebovitz and it’s quite interesting. What intrigued me was the use of an orange curacao and David suggested using a French aperitif like Byrrh instead of sweet vermouth.

I made one with deciding to go with both orange and aromatic bitters. His recipe calls for 1.5 oz of cognac but I used 2 ounces as I prefer just a bit heavier hand on the base spirit. This recipe will be a fun one to play with because I became quite obsessed with orange curacao and have Cointreau, Grand Marnier as well as Brovo Spirits’ orange curacao to play with. I suspect I’ll want the sweeter Grand Marnier. The Ferrand dry curacao was fine here but with the bitter Byrrh, it made the drink quite dry.

French Manhattan (adapted)

  • 2 oz cognac
  • 1 oz Byrrh
  • 1 oz orange curacao
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters
  • Garnish with cherries

Add all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir for 30-40 seconds until chilled and diluted. Strain into a cocktail glass and add a cherry (or three!).

Note the original recipe calls for 1.5 oz spirit, 1.5 oz sweet vermouth and .25 oz orange curacao. I tweaked them for my own taste but you may want to go with David’s original recipe first. As mentioned, I found the Byrrh and dry curacao a very dry combo.

Rough Waters by the Coral Sea

In the recipe for the Rough Waters by the Coral Sea, the article stated the cocktail was inspired by the Metropole cocktail which I read as a dry cognac Manhattan. I’ll probably make that at some point but I had a lot of fun making the Rough Waters.

In one, I used French brandy (not cognac) and in the other, I used Ventura Spirits’ strawberry brandy. The saline solution worked really well with the sweet strawberry. For anyone who likes salted caramel, savory and sweet notes, this drink is for you.

Strawberry Waters

adapted from the Mandarin Oriental’s recipe

  • 2 oz Ventura Spirits strawberry brandy
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth (suggested: Cocchi di Torino)
  • 2 drops saline solution (recipe below)
  • 3 dashes aromatic bitters (suggested: Bittercube Bolivar bitters)
  • Optional garnish: thyme sprigs

Add all ingredients to mixing glass, stir for 30-40 seconds until diluted and chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with thyme sprigs.

[saline solution- I simply mixed Himalayan pink salt with warm water until dissolved. MO’s recipe uses room temperature water]

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