Spring Sazerac and Summertime Manhattan

The Sazerac and Manhattan are classics that I enjoy all year long. But sometimes I look for variations with a slightly lighter feel to accompany the change of seasons.

Sam Ross’ Cobble Hill is a Manhattan with dry vermouth where half of the vermouth is replaced with Montenegro, an amaro. Cucumber is muddled into the drink. With dry vermouth and cucumber, the cocktail feels light and fresh which is unusual for a rye-based cocktail. The result still has the richness and complexity of a Manhattan/Brooklyn variation, the Montenegro contributing is vanilla notes and bitter finish.

I’ve tried Bulleit and High West Double Rye! in this drink and prefer the version with the latter. Its green and almost floral aromas go particularly well with the Montenegro.


Cobble Hill (Sam Ross) with High west double rye, Dolin dry vermouth, amaro Montenegro, muddled cucumber

Cobble Hill | to a stirring glass add | 2 oz rye | 0.5 oz dry vermouth | 0.5 oz montenegro | 3 slices cucumber | muddle | stir with ice | strain into chilled cocktail coupe | cucumber garnish


For his Spring Sazerac, Toby Maloney goes back to the roots of the Sazerac and uses cognac as the base rather than rye. He specifies demerara simple syrup with a touch of curaçao as the sweetener. The Peychaud’s bitters are replaced with a mix of orange (I used 5 drops of Regan’s and 6 drops of Fee Brothers) and aromatic bitters (I went with Angostura). The absinthe rinse is traditional.

The result is sweeter than a rye-based Sazerac, with the additional sweetness balanced by the orange flavor of the curaçao and orange bitters. The Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac and dry curaçao worked particularly well in the drink which is still a sipper, but one that is surprisingly easy to drink (a beginner’s Sazerac?). I am also very curious to try an armagnac version.

I’ve seen variations of this cocktail with apricot liqueur, and it would be fairly easy to come up with more by just changing the sweetening agent. You can turn spring into summer with a touch of chamomile, autumn with apple, or winter with coffee.

Spring Sazerac (Toby Maloney) with Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac and dry curaçao, demerara syrup, orange and Angostura bitters, St. George absinthe

Spring Sazerac | to a mixing glass add | 2 oz cognac | 1/8 oz (scant barspoon) curaçao | 1/8 oz demerara simple syrup | 11 drops orange bitters | 9 drops aromatic bitters | stir with ice | strain into chilled rocks glass rinsed with absinthe | twist lemon peel over the drink

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