Well, maybe somebody remembers that some years ago I posted about Black Manhattan – an interesting Manhattan variation utilizing amaro Averna (but I used Ramazzotti) instead of sweet vermouth. Actually I tasted this cocktail [elegant as Armani in his hey-day] some time later also with Averna, but I decided not to post about, you know, the scientific novelty was quite insignificant even though the cocktail was pretty good 8)
But now I have perfect chance to return to this exciting Manhattan riff. Some time ago flipping through Liquor.com I stumbled upon a rather similar to Black Manhattan cocktail, – Prospector, which looked like a next step in improving of Manhattan in a black way. In this case the vermouth (e.g. fortified wine aromatized with herbs, roots and fruits) is substituted not only with amaro Averna (liquor on neutral spirit base aromatized with herbs, roots and fruits) but also with sherry (fortified wine). Well, I think you’ll agree with me, it sounds perfect.
As a rule, I always try to find out a story of a cocktail I drink. But it often is almost impossible, I mean, unfortunately, background details often are unclear. As a matter of fact, there is a lot of stuff which is called Prospector. Really, I don’t see anything strange in the fact that many San-Francisco (or in general North American) guys have been mixing a certain posh cocktail and calling it Prospector :) By the way, many Prospectors are very interesting things [for example 1 or 2], but today we are going to enjoy mixing the one which was created (as it’s been specified on video) by Brian Means from Dirty Habit Restaurant & Bar in San Francisco.
This drink has attracted me by using Pedro Ximenez sherry which is rather a rare cocktail ingredient. I have been admiring sherry since last fall when I made an acquaintance with all sherry ranging from bone dry and fresh manzanilla to very sweet Pedro Ximenez. Being a real sweet tooth fan of Manhattan Cocktail, I was really excited by an idea of using that sweet and rich wine in my beloved [Black] Manhattan.
Prospector Cocktail (by Brian Means)
60 ml bourbon
20 ml amaro Averna
15 ml Pedro Ximenez sherry
1 dash Angostura bitters
Stir all the ingredients over ice and strain into a coupe (or cocktail) glass. Add lemon twist.
Totally as I’d hoped, the Prospector turned out a decent Manhattan. Ok, I must specify – a decent Black Manhattan in an almost classical proportion 2:1 but with such a misleading garnish opposite a quite sweet taste [As we all know, a lemon twist is a garnish for Dry Manhattan, in the Sweet (or regular) one we usually have a cocktail cherry].
A taste of this Prospector cocktail demonstrates one quite interesting tendency that appears in the modern cocktail world. I mean, a lot of modern bartenders (consciously or even instinctively) tend to create cocktails on a great classic basis (for example Manhattan) but with a big taste. I mean [again] there are certain boundaries in a vermouth richness (for example, Carpano Antica Formula: it initially seems SO rich, but for a while you begin to think about something more powerful, I’m right, aren’t I? ;) In this very moment we can be assisted with understanding main vermouth specifics which originate from raw materials for producing – herbs and wine, and the next obvious thing that we should do – to pick out another liquors that has similar specifics and use it in our favorite constructions to create the big taste! 8)
As a result of that approach under the mask of Prospector Cocktail by Brian Means, IMHO, we have got yet another excellent Manhattan riff with a big taste. A palate of the drink is dominated by the powerful richness and spiciness of american whiskey adorned with a perfect-vermouth-like couple – amaro and sweet sherry. This couple brings in the palate such vermouth things like herbal richness, delicate bitterness, and smooth fruit sweetness. In addition Pedro Ximenez brings a peculiar raisin note that makes this drink totally marvelous.
Also I couldn’t help tasting this drink with another, maybe not so proper, but so appealing for me, type of North American whiskey – Canadian whisky. Actually I used to mix my Manhattans specifically with this type of whisky before a lot of good quality bourbons became widely available here, in Ukraine. Now, obviously, I strongly prefer small batch bourbons (like Woodford Reserve or Knob Creek especially) in my Manhattans, but sometimes I need something not so distinctive, something more, let say, average for seeing the play of other used ingredients in a mix. So, I mixed the Prospector also with Black Velvet Reserve 8 y.o. – a fairly smooth and aromatic example of Canadian whiskies. The result was so interesting too. In this case whisky was not able to dominate the drink, so Averna and Pedro Ximenez could demonstrate their bests that also was quite pleasant. But in this case the cocktail, IMHO, is quite far from true Manhattan.