The so-called "Christmas" Manhattan is simply one of my variations on the standard Manhattan. It substitutes a couple of the traditional ingredients: standard sweet vermouth is replaced by the more complex Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, which is based on what is purported to be the original sweet vermouth recipe from Antonio Benedetto Carpano, created in 1786. You can find it a bit more easily nowadays; if you are in the Boston area you can try Dave's Fresh Pasta or Cambridge Wine & Spirits.
Carpano happens to have many of the characteristic flavors one might associate with the holidays - think licorice, herbs, figs, cocoa, and sweet cinnamon. The Fee Bros. Old Fashion bitters have a cinnamon profile (try to find the limited edition whiskey barrel aged bitters, released once a year...) that sings holiday carols with Regan's Orange Bitters, which are especially good (you can substitute Fee Bros. Orange Bitters or Angostura Orange Bitters). Hell, for that matter you could approximate this using any sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, and whatever orange bitters you can find, if necessary.
That said, this particular combination of ingredients, listed below, derived its name when I proffered one to my lovely wife, who responded by saying, "It's like Christmas in my mouth."
I thought it would be appropriate to post this heading toward Christmas, simply so as to put before you an option, which you may essay to concoct, for a December evening's celebratory tipple. Christmas Eve, especially.
- 3 oz Wild Turkey 101 bourbon
- 3/4 oz Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth
- 2 dashes Regan's Orange Bitters
- 1 dash Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters
- Garnish: Maraschino cherry
If you are bothered to acquire the listed ingredients, go a step further and buy Luxardo Maraschino Cherries in syrup. They are the best money can buy (and quite dear, unfortunately), but you will be grateful at the end of your drink when you taste a Luxardo cherry: tart, sweet without being saccharine, deeply flavored, and all natural. After all, it's a holiday and you only live once.
Bottoms up - and Happy Holidays!