kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits & lifestyle writer / wine educator

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Featured Cocktail: Apple Manhattan

The Applejack Manhattan (minis the cool apple garnish). I love a good Manhattan--especially at this time of the year. My basic recipe is 2 ounces Bourbon, 1 ounce Dolin Red Vermouth, and a few dashes of Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters, stirred and served over one large cube. But sometimes, I like to mix it up a little. Nothing too crazy, but just a tweak here, or a riff there.

Recently, while chatting with John Wabeck, General Manager and beverage director at Spoon, and beverage consultant at the recently opened Grit + Grace (both in Pittsburgh), he told me about an Applejack version he was putting on the menu at Spoon. (DC folks will remember Wabeck as a fixture on the D.C. wine and dining scene, until he moved to the 'Burgh a year ago...)

Wabeck uses a melon baller on apples, stains them with grenadine, compresses them, and poaches them in a Cryovac. The end result looks like a cherry, (and has some of the flavor of Maraschino cherries, thanks to the grenadine), but with a decidedly different texture. He uses one to garnish his Apple Manhattan, pictured above (I cheated and used Luxardo Maraschino cherries, though.) Here's his recipe for the cocktail--the Applejack adds a very subtle apple flavor, and substituting Peychauds' for cherry or Angostura bitters ramps up the spice.

If you want to make the apple balls, but (like me) don't have a Cryovac setting around, you can get a similar result from scooping out apple pieces with the melon baller, and soaking them in high quality grenadine (or pomegranate juice mixed with sugar.)

Apple Manhattan Courtesy of John Wabeck, Spoon / Grit + Grace, Pittsburgh, PA

1 1/4 oz. Laird's Applejack Brandy 1 oz. Crown Royal 3/4 oz. red Vermouth 2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters Cryovac apple ball (or cherry), for garnish

Add all except garnish to a cocktail shaker. Add cracked ice, and stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled rocks glass that has 1 large ice cube (or serve up in a chilled rocks glass.) Garnish with the apple ball or cherry.