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Author Notes: 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
Makes enough for several drinks
Mulled Simple Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons whole mulling spices (cinnamon, allspice, cloves)
- 1-2 star anise
- several strips orange zest
- 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)
- 4 ounces good bourbon (I like Buffalo Trace and Bulleit for cocktails)
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth (I use Dolin)
- 1 ounce mulled simple syrup
- several drops orange bitters
- several drops regular old fashioned bitters *
- 2 strips of orange zest
- 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.