Wild Cherry Manhattan
This is such a classic drink that I don’t want to go too far off-piste with my recipe. The type of cherries used in your wild cherry-infused rye whiskey are going to affect the sweetness but whether they are sour or sweet cherries, this drink will work beautifully. The bitters will offset the fruity, sweeter notes in the Carpano Antica vermouth and any sweeter cherries in the rye. With just the right balance of bitter, sweet, and smooth, it is certainly worth the extra expense.
60ml wild cherry-infused rye whiskey (see below)
30ml Carpano Antica vermouth
3 dashes of wild cherry bitters or chocolate bitters
Tools: Mixing glass, stirring
rod/long spoon, julep strainer/hawthorne strainer
Ice: Cubes (optional), cracked
Garnish: Orange twist, pair of chocolate-dipped cherries (optional)
Chill the martini glass thoroughly in the freezer or refrigerator for 2 or 4 hours respectively. Alternatively, fill the glass with ice.
Pour the wild cherry-infused rye whiskey, vermouth, and bitters into the mixing glass. Fill it two-thirds of the way up with cracked ice. Stir for at least 30 seconds (or a minimum of 50 revolutions) until there is condensation on the outside.
If you used ice to chill your martini glass, empty it out. Slide the julep strainer inside, or the hawthorne strainer over, the mixing glass and strain the contents into the martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist—and for an extra treat, a pair of chocolate-dipped cherries.
Wild cherry-infused rye whiskey
A high-proof rye offers spiciness, fruitiness, and natural bitterness, and the high-alcohol content extracts as much of the cherry flavour as possible. No sugar is added to this beautiful infusion, which creates the perfect balance with the sweet complexity of the Carpano Antica vermouth used in a wild cherry manhattan.
500g wild cherries (store-bought cherries are also fine but they are likely to be a lot sweeter)
700 or 750ml bottle of rye whiskey, 80 proof/40% ABV, such as Rittenhouse Straight Rye
1-litre wide-mouthed, sealable jar, sterilised
Makes approximately 750ml
Wash and score the cherries with a knife (there’s no need to take the pits/stones out, as they add a small and pleasant amount of bitterness over time). Place in the sterilized jar. Pour the rye whiskey over the cherries, making sure they are all covered. Seal the jar and store in a cool, dry place. And wait. Once a week, upend the jar slowly a couple of times.
The infusion will be very drinkable after a month, and even better after two. It is up to you whether you strain it before drinking, but after 3 months, you should definitely do so and funnel it into a clean jar to remove the cherries.
Use the whiskey-soaked cherries as a garnish or in ice cream. Once you’ve tasted these, you will forever recoil at the sight of a store-bought, glow-in-the-dark maraschino cherry.