Averna, a thick, sweet Italian amaro liqueur with great bitter herbal notes for the standard sweet vermouth usually called for in the classic Manhattan. This simple switcheroo changes the drink's smooth character towards a deeper, more complex and darker place. The life metaphor here is unavoidable. If only the cannibalizing of classic cocktails with ingredient modifications would always brings about this much thought and introspection!
I much prefer the current trend of switching up classic cocktails with new ingredients to inventing unusual cocktails and drinks out of whole cloth. The horror that is a Green Donkey Show never made me think this much!
So even though the modified versions are good classics are classics for a reason and I will always return to them -- but tonight's tipple, all dressed up in its black mourning clothes has a particular meaning for me now. And it is also having the desired effect so when this one is finished I will have another.
The last few weeks have been particularly tough ones and despite my natural inclination towards the positive and cheerful, my mood lately has been as dark with sadness as this cocktail is with Averna and bourbon.
In one month we said goodbye to a dear friend as her tenacious fight to hang onto a life that had already decided to reject her finally ended. This was followed shortly thereafter with news that another good friend had voluntarily given his life away. I haven't attended funerals so back-to-back since... that time.
Oh gosh. Lest this post get more maudlin than I intended let me assure you that I find it perfectly acceptable to feel sad. Its just as much a part of life as laughter and I accept that without question. So please don't be concerned. Without sadness like this the laughter won't be as joyful and I wouldn't have the warm feeling of gratitude that usually follows. I have heard it said that it is possible to feel two emotions at once -- one will make the other more acute before it cures it.
So if you don't mind, please don't ask me to 'snap out of it' or 'go outside and exercise'. Those distractions never work. Whatever you do don't tell me to smile when I don't very much feel like it yet. I'll be just fine.You'll see. Of course alcohol (if used responsibly) can help too.
Which leads me back to the Black Manhattan.
Actually it leads me back to my second Black Manhattan. So despite my previous indecision about what to tell you about this drink I have can now say unequivocally that this drink is worth a second go-round. At this rate you might guess that if you make it to the end of my post you will find out if the Black Manhattan will merits a third but let me remind you that by the time anyone chooses a third cocktail for themselves he or she is no longer choosing it for reasons of taste alone and I think I've been very clear on my dual motives for choosing this one here.
So my opinion will no longer matter if I have a third. Warranting a second is still something of an achievement at any rate.
G'night. (Is it hot in here?)
- 2 ounces bourbon, because it is darker and deeper than rye.
- 1 ounce Averna (or another Italian "amaro")
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters or go get crazy and do 1 dash Angostura bitters and 1 dash orange bitters.
- garnish with Luxardo cherries -- or something darker.
Draw the drapes, turn off the lights, and enjoy the darkness.