Ain’t that spice just oh so nice.
Manhattans are a classic, confident cocktail. Bourbon Curry Manhattans are perhaps doubly confident due to being funkified with spice.
But this cocktail I imagine in my flighty little head as coming from another person in another time. Maybe an entitled youth who danced with Mary Crawley at her coming out ball. Looking for meaning and shirts less starched, he travels to an uncle’s plantation in a far away place.
And he arrives in this new country and he breathes in the heat and the spice like it’s his very first taste of true oxygen. Escaping the formal dining halls of his parentage he roams the markets pregnant with colors he’s never seen, flavors he’s never imagined.
Instead of watercress soup he finds vindaloo. In lieu of the salmon mousse (which he always hated) goat kabobs and fiery chutneys.
Every new flavor is a discovery. It makes him braver and bolder. A culinary explorer of sorts. Diving into the great unknown, coming up for air only when necessary, and then off again to the next deep fried pakora stall.
Finally summoned home by an anxiety-ridden mother
He embarks on the return boat a shade of tan he never thought possible. Several pounds thinner (probably giardia). And fine little packets filled with curry powder the motherly cook knowingly pressed upon him as he bid the staff goodbye.
Back at the estate that will someday be his, he shifts into a routine of parties and cards and plays while the papers whisper of a looming war to come. At night he mixes a drink while his father talks politics and his mother mentions eligible daughters of the gentry.
No one takes notice as he unfolds a small packet and stirs golden powder into his glass. He swirls it around, smelling the perfume of curry. And for a moment he’s transported back to the land of sunshine and spice.
I told yalls I watch way too much BBC…
These curry manhattans are earthy and bold but not too on the nose like you might think.
The other flavors still shine through really well, like a typical manhattan wrapped up in a spicy curry hug. The backbone of vermouth and fresh thyme keep it very savory and green… And of course there’s a cherry on top.
Bourbon & Curry Manhattan Cocktails
For the Sweet Curry Syrup:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2.5 TB curry powder
- 2 tsp orange blossom water
For each Bourbon & Curry Manhattan:
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
- 1/2 ounce sweet curry syrup
- 3-5 dashes orange or original bitters
- orange or lemon peel
- good quality cocktail cherry
- 2 sprigs thyme
- pinch of ground chili pepper or curry for final sprinkle
For the Sweet Curry Syrup:
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and set over medium heat.
Bring to a boil and stir to help the sugar dissolve, whisk in the curry powder, then turn off the heat.
Let cool a little bit, then add the orange blossom water.
Store in the fridge for a few hours to let everything mingle and settle, preferably I’d say overnight — but I know we can’t all plan that far ahead in life — (example being I might have worn the same sweater three days in a row).
When ready to make cocktails, there will be some curry sediment at the bottom, it’s up to you whether to strain it out or not. I myself don’t mind the texture and prefer the extra bolts of flavor but if you want not bits then sieve away and it’ll be a little leaner in flavor but still fine. You’re the boss.
For the Bourbon & Curry Manhattan:
Swipe the rim of the glass with the orange peel, twist to release oils and drop in the glass. Squish the thyme sprigs into the bottom.
Add one large square ice cube…(if you don’t have one of these trays I’m disappointed in you but we can still be friends. Just use two rotten regular cubes I guess.)
Add your bitters.
Pour in the bourbon, vermouth, and syrup. Stir to combine.
Garnish with a cherry and slightest pinch of spice.