Big Apple Manhattan

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  4 servings
Prep Time:  35 minutes Cook Time:  10 minutes

Big Apple Manhattan

The classic Manhattan is rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. This riff takes the apple in the Big Apple one step further. Instead of using vermouth, I use a very reduced apple cider and extra bitters. It’s sweet and tart and caramelly and adds flourish to the sturdy, delectably deep backbone of a great bourbon, a close cousin of the traditional rye. The balance of the bitters is key to this drink. BTW, there is a burgeoning movement of handcrafted (dare I say hipster?) bitters that have joined the traditional brands, and they’re pretty darn terrific.


1 cup apple cider  

8 ounces bourbon whiskey

6 dashes cherry bitters

4 king ice cubes (see Kitchen Tips)

1 cup regular ice

½ small apple, for garnish

4 to 8 fresh cherries, for garnish, optional


  1. Heat the apple cider in a large saucepan set over medium to medium-high heat. Set a small bowl of water and a pastry brush near the stovetop.
  2.  Place a candy thermometer into the cider, positioning it so that does not touch the bottom (so you get the temperature of the cider and not the bottom of the pan). Bring the mixture to  245°F (just above a simmer) and heat for 15 to 25 minutes, brushing the inside of the pan with a water-soaked brush. (It will periodically look like it is separating, but don’t worry! Let it cook and it will become thick and clear.) When it has reduced in volume to about ⅓ to ¼ cup—in about another 5 to 10 minutes—remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Two tablespoons will be used in this recipe; the rest can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 2 weeks (see Kitchen Tips for suggested uses).
  3. Pour the bourbon, bitters, and 2 tablespoons of the apple cider reduction into a shaker and stir well, until thoroughly blended. Place 1 king ice cube each into 4 rocks glasses. Add 1 cup ice to the shaker, cover, shake well, and with a fine-mesh strainer, strain into the glasses.
  4. Garnish the cocktails: Cut the apple in quarters, cut out the core and seeds of each, and cut the quarters into ⅛-inch slices (see Kitchen Tips). Garnish each glass with 3 slices. If you are using cherries for garnish, add 1 or 2 to each glass. Serve immediately.

Kitchen Tips

  1. You will have more apple cider syrup than you need for 4 Manhattans, but you can use the rest to whip up another batch of drinks, or save it for another use, such as with pound cake or biscuits with fresh apple slices and whipped cream, in an apple shortcake sort-of-dessert. It’s also yummy over cinnamon or cardamom ice cream.
  2. If you don’t have an oversized square (king cube) ice tray, use 2 regular ice cubes per serving.
  3. Slice the apples just before serving to prevent browning.

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