One of our favorite local watering holes serves a great manhattenesque cocktail that is extra spicy. I reproduce those warm fall flavors by making a simple syrup that is steeped with mulling spices. This is best when your syrup is fresh as it loses a little potency over time, but will easily keep in the fridge a few weeks without losing too much flavor. Luckily it is a cinch to make and you can have a cocktail in your hand within thirty minutes.
You can also use to make any of your favorite hot winter beverages by adding to cider, strong black tea or coffee, a toddy or hot chocolate (especially nice in white hot chocolate). And when the warm weather finally comes back, mix to taste with sparkling water and a wedge of orange for a nice homemade soda.
On a side note, I know many will say a Manhattan must be made with Rye. I find drinking rye to be a dangerous slippery slope, and it often makes me think that I am not only incredibly witty but definitely up for more rounds than is prudent. So for home cocktailing, I stick to bourbon to ensure that I can get out of bed the next day. If you have a stronger constitution, go for the Rye and send me all your best hangover cures! —MGrace
Add all ingredients to small saucepan and bring to gentle simmer. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved and let simmer for 5-10 minutes or until sufficiently steeped. Turn off heat and let cool to room temp with spices. Decant into glass bottle (or plastic squeeze bottle as I do) straining out the spices. It is ready to use or keep in fridge.
Mulled Manhatten (makes two cocktails)
Chill your cocktail glasses.
Mix bourbon, vermouth and mulled simple syrup over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously until frosty. Strain into glasses.
Sprinkle a dash of orange bitters and a dash of old fashioned bitters onto each cocktail. Twist zest over drink and drop in. You can also drop in the star anise from the mulling to give a nice aromatic. Not needed, but it looks and smells good.
*the most common brand of old fashioned bitters are Angostura. I happen to prefer Fee Brothers, hence the more generic term.