Saturday, relaxing at Tao in Manhattan on 58th Street, with a perfect Manhattan made with Bookers Bourbon. Theresa “Tess”, the very knowledgable and friendly bartender helped me with my Italian by determining that the Vermouth Del Professore used in the drink added a spicy and herbal bitterness. I am assuming this is due to the amount of clove they use in their formula for making such a unique blend of vermouth.
My actual cocktail was made by Tess and she did it so well that I actually had to have another. While made with the global-bar-standard, Angostura bitters, the drink still had enough uniqueness to make it stand apart from the classic taste. This is not a knock on Angostura, but just that it is so popular that it is a common taste point across many drinks made around the world – as a result, its consistent high level of quality and taste have made it unfortunately not unique and thus not stand out. I believe that the drink masters at Tao blended the intensity of the Bookers and the herbal nature of the Vermouth Del Professore to make it a very good “safe”, but still unique version of the cocktail. This is common at very popular, high-end, boutique restaurants. They need to make a drink that is very recognizable by their customers, but have just enough edge to call it their own. They did it very well with their version of the Manhattan.
What I enjoyed as much as the drink was the conversation with Tess. I found out that she is also passionate for craft of wine and spirit creation. She has her own wine label – Sento Bene Wines that currently focuses on true Prosecco wine made with Italian grapes. Tess is busy as she also has another online existence with her lifestyle blog which provides a lot of helpful advice, including the benefits of wine – but we already knew that, didn’t we 😉