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26 Apr 2017 By

Manhattan, Asia’s highest ranked in World’s 50 Best Bars, has a new centuries-old cocktail menu that embraces New York City’s notable drinking eras. So, are you ready for cocktails from the 16th century?

Manhattan Bar, known for its design, drinks, rickhouse, and seasonal menus inspired by the boroughs of New York City, has refreshed itself with new cocktail offerings. Only from now on, it won’t be drinks from Harlem, Chelsea or Hell’s Kitchen (Chinatown, we hardly knew you!) but a revised menu that’s reimagined from the different eras of the city’s drinking culture.

manhattan cocktail

We were privy to some of the processes and ideas that went into cocktails which embraced five centuries of creativity. So we started our journey with a First Voyage ($25), inspired by the pioneers from the 16th – 17th centuries. The ingredients – Mancino Vecchio, Rutte Old Simon Gin, Penfold’s Father Port Wine, Luxardo Maraschino and Orange Bitters – are blended and aged in a clay pot for two weeks. Back then, clay pots were used to store spirits on long voyages. The low abv cocktail was probably drank to make you less sick in the middle of the sea. With its modern ingredients, it flies, with a subtle bitter taste to kick off the night.

manhattan cocktail

Coal represents the industrial revolution, a period of profound change, so the big block of polished ice cube could be a metaphorical diamond. Economics and social conditions improved, and with it recreation and the prevalance of public bars. Coal (Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao and Bowmore 12 Years, $24) definitely has a strong chocolatey flavour, balanced with the smoky Islay whiskey.

A bit full-on, I’m not likely to have more than one a night. If you recall, the Barber Shop from the Harlem menu also cleverly made use of Bowmore’s strengths.

manhattan cocktail

Of course there’s gotta be a Prohibition epoch, a time of rum running and illegal imbibes. The 12 Mile Out (Plantation Pineapple Rum, Michter’s US1 Straight Rye, Ferrand Dry Curaçao, Lemon and Grenadine, #24) packs a legal punch. Fact: get 12 miles out of the coastline and alcohol is legal, imagine the parties then…

manhattan cocktail

The ‘City of Tomorrow’ epoch (1950s) is represented by Kerman (Ocho Blanco Tequila, Pistachio Orgeat and Lime, $23). The war’s over, the scene’s buzzing, pop art is starting, fusion cuisine was in its nascent stage, and NYC was beginning to assert itself as the greatest metropolitan city in the world. The cocktail, named after the first pistachio trees that were grown on American soil in 1950, is maybe my favourite, a delicate balance of sweet, saltiness, umami with a longer finish as well. The raspberry salted glas rim is a winning visual and vital touch.

_Golden Era_Brunchin'

The final period is the 1990s, the Golden Era when the economy was kicking ass and taking names. A time when people were doing brunches and sipping on Bloody Marys. It’s represented by this Brunchin’ cocktail (Rutte Celery Gin, House-made Bloody Mary Mix, Lemon and Egg White, $27).

All the five epochs will have four cocktails to represent it, and each era will be rolled out (everything good takes time!) over the months. If you want to drink in a history lesson, get yourself to Manhattan in a New York minute.

Regent Hotel, 1 Cuscaden Road, tel: 6725-3377.

Like this? These cocktails-in-bottles will remind you of a special era too

Guess where Manhattan was placed in the World’s 50 Best Bars?



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