Not all cocktails have to be complicated affairs. Just like with food, sometimes simple is better. Many of the “classic” cocktails follow this rule. I’ve got nothing against complicated cocktails, or drinks with numerous ingredients, as exhibited by many of the drinks I have posted about, but I also enjoy cocktails with few ingredients, especially when those ingredients are top notch.

One of my favorite cocktails, being a Bourbon fan, is the classic Manhattan. With only 3 ingredients, this drink allows the Bourbon, or other styles of whiskey, to shine through. Served straight up, the Manhattan is my pre-dinner cocktail of choice although I’ve never been known to turn down the offer of one.

I recently discovered Jim Beam's "Red Stagg" a bourbon liqueur flavored with cherry. While it will never become my drink of choice it makes a great alternative. It’s a little too sweet for me to drink regularly, but I do have to admit that I do really like the Black Cherry flavor that it has been infused with. It also makes a great base for a number of variations on whiskey based cocktails, including the Manhattan.

Traditionally, Manhattans are stirred, not shaken, but I like my Manhattans icy cold, but straight up so I always shake mine for at least 15 seconds. This causes the drink to get a little cloudy, but I think it both mellows out the edges while opening up the flavors a bit from the water that melts from the ice during shaking.

Red Stag Manhattan

makes 1 drink

2 parts Jim Beam Red Stag Black Cherry infused Bourbon
1/2 part Vermouth, sweet
2 dashes Orange Bitters (angostura is an acceptable substitute if you don’t have orange bitters)

Chill a martini glass by filling with ice and water. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the ingredients and shake for 15 seconds. Dump the ice water out of the martini glass, shaking out as much excess water as possible. Strain the cocktail into the martini glass and garnish with a cherry, a few cranberries, or better yet, either a chocolate covered cherry or cranberry.