Cigar Aficionado

High West's Celebration Barreled Manhattan

Normally, we don't recommend cocktail-in-a-bottle products. But in the case of the prepackaged Manhattan from High West Distillery, the operative point is not the convenient bottle it comes in, but the several months it spent in a barrel, gathering a hearty charm and warmth that you won't access making the drink from scratch.

The U.S. Grant Centennial Celebration Barreled Manhattan is the collaboration of David Perkins of Utah's High West Distillery and Jeff Josenhans, mixologist and sommelier of The Grant Grill at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego. As the name suggests, the bottled cocktail was created for the hotel's 100th anniversary.

The basis of the drink is High West rye whiskey, Martini & Rossi vermouth and bitters. After mixing, it was entered into American oak casks previously used for rye at the distillery's location 7,000 feet above sea level. There it rested for an extra 100 days. This mingling period seems to have integrated the flavors and brought out a nutty quality that we find especially conducive to cigar pairings.

We paired the 37 percent alcohol (74 proof) concoction with an Illusione cigar and found it enhanced and exposed the sweeter notes on the smoke and also gained a deeper, heartier toast flavor itself.

This is not the first liquor innovation for High West's Perkins. The winner of the 2011 Malt Advocate Pioneer of the Year Award has made a name for himself blending straight rye whiskies and even put together a mix of rye and Bourbon he calls Bourye.

He has also created another version of the premixed cocktail, aged for 120 days, called the 36th Vote Barrel Aged Manhattan, which Perkins will offer in a seminar at New York's Manhattan Cocktail Classic on May 16.

That drink is named to commemorate the Utah legislature's vote for the 21st Amendment to repeal Prohibition. Utah, the 36th state to approve the amendment,  pushed the movement to the required level of three-quarters of states for ratification.

While convenience didn't draw us to the Barreled Manhattan, that factor cannot be denied. Simply shake with ice and strain or pour over cubes. We dispensed with the traditional cherry garnish, but if you want to feel you've made a contribution to the cocktail by all means drop one in.

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"Jack, what Ilussione did you pair it with?" —April 26, 2011 13:32 PM
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