How to make a lower proof Manhattan

Plus, how to add complex flavours!

What’s the best way to make a low proof version of the Manhattan?

You can easily make a sessionable Manhattan by reversing the specs of a classic Manhattan but it results in a fairly sweet cocktail that lacks complexity. This is where sherry and vermouth step in to fill the gap.

Amontillado sherry typically has nutty characteristics whilst dry vermouth displays grape, citrus and herbaceous notes. Adding both of these ingredients bring more character and depth to this low-ABV version of the classic Manhattan.

Sherry and vermouth are both versatile and inexpensive ingredients so I strongly recommend having them on your back bar (*ahem* fridge).

If you are looking for more ways to use both these bottles then you can’t go past a Sherry Cobbler, Clover Club or a Dry Martini.

How to add more flavour to low proof cocktails

I’ve always felt that lower proof cocktails meant less flavour but alas this isn’t true! There are countless ways to pack flavour into your drinks and here are a few ideas to help you out:

  1. Use liqueurs - add flavours without the high abv of a spirit/liquor.

  2. Split the base - split the spirit base with a vermouth or sherry

  3. Try it 50/50 - for example, instead of a Martini heavy on gin, try splitting it 50/50 with gin and vermouth.

  4. Use bitter liqueurs - Amari are a fantastic way to add bitter, herbal and complex flavours to a drink.

  5. Build flavour with aromatized wines - such as vermouth, americano, quinquina, etc. - a perfect example being the Italian Mojito I shared last week!

  6. Make DIY syrups - perhaps something as simple as a raspberry syrup or as complex as a sous vide rosemary & peach syrup.

  7. Add a few dashes of bitters - bitters are strongly flavoured liquor that only need to be used in small portions to add a tonne of flavour.

  8. Try tinctures - similar to bitters although there is no bittering agent. Tinctures are made by infusing fruits/herbs in alcohol.

  9. Make your own shrubs - a shrub consists of fruit juice, sugar and vinegar. The latter balances the sweetness of the juice and sugar.

Any combination of these can be used to build flavour into a drink without the need for relying on hard liquor for all the flavour.

Reverse Manhattan

After downplaying the Reverse Manhattan recipe above, I realised that I’d shared it on the channel 5 years ago (check out the seedy moustache). I quickly revisited my video and discovered another simple technique to add more complex flavours to a low proof Manhattan. Watch it here.

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