Woodford Reserve Manhattan Contest
In January I took part in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience Competition. While I didn't place in the contest, it was an excellent experience where I was able to learn, network, and try some tasty drinks.
Some take aways from the event:
- These competitions should be fun and no one remembers a thing about them the next day. I've driven myself mad, worrying about about public speaking and presenting papers my whole life, but bartending is what I'm best at and need to learn to present that.
- Read the rules! It wasn't until I put this post up that I realized I didn't actually follow the rules. I thought I was making two Manhattans, a classic and a not-so-classic instead of a classic 'ideal' Manhattan recipe and an original anything with Woodford. I made two Manhattans, both were pretty normal, but with a little twist (they were both good IMO).
- Companies put these on to make money, they don't want to hear that they aren't on your menu or that you don't sell that much of their product (duh).
- Don't stress over results (see above)
The contest itself was straight forward enough:
- An original Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Cocktail that showcases the flavor profile of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked and that you would proudly serve to guests in your own bar
- Provide your ‘ideal’ recipe for the classic Manhattan cocktail using Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon, including the way you would serve it to guests.
The 'Ideal Classic'
2 oz Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon
½ ounce Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
½ ounce Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
2 dash Regan Orange Bitters
With a Classic Manhattan I want the drink to be able to serve as both an entry point to stirred, spirit forward cocktails and something that a seasoned imbiber could enjoy for its nuances. This Manhattan uses the rich body and complex notes of Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select Bourbon as the backbone of this cocktail, putting the spirit front and center, and letting the drinker find some its finer characteristics on their own. The Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth helps bring the bourbon’s vanilla and tobacco nose to the front and helps uncover the caramel and toffee notes on the drinker's palate. Cochi Vermouth di Torino brings together those dark spice favors with the bright orange, cherry and peach flavors that are present throughout the bourbon as well. Two couple dashes of orange bitters before being stirred and finished with the oil from a lemon peel make sure all the ingredients have been woken up and carry across the drinker's senses in any setting.
This simple Manhattan is great because it showcases the product in the glass without any fuss
Original Woodford Reserve Double Oaked:
Behind Closed Doors:
2 oz Woodford X2 Oak
¼ oz Dolin Blanc
¾ oz Barolo Chinato
2 dashes teapot bitters
Flamed spritz of Green Chartreuse
When I was growing up there was a cabinet in the kitchen that was off limits to my brother and me, it’s where my parents stashed their liquor bottles, my dad’s good candy, and other things they were restricting our access to. I remember not being tall enough to see all of the cabinet's contents that sat directly above the kitchen sink but do recall the semi-sweet and alluringly musty smell and the sound of glass clinking whenever it was opened.
With my Original Woodford Reserve Manhattan I worked to recreate the flavors, smells, and mystifying aura that came out of that cabinet. The Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon’s nose of caramel, chocolate, and toffee remind me of the sweets that were being kept up there and just out of my reach. Dolin Blanc offers a grassy smooth characteristic which emphasizes bourbons honeyed fruit and nut flavors reminiscent of the smell of a syrupy wine spill mixing with aging wood in the back corner. Barolo Chinato’s deep spice and earthy notes intensifies the oak, hazelnut, and almond flavors that have been imparted during the bourbons second barreling, adding depth and mystery to the drink. Teapot Bitters help bring all the components together. The drink is stirred and served up in a classic Nick and Nora, a nod to the idea that my parents aren’t the most concerning drinkers, the oil of lemon peel expressed across the top and discard. Finally, an ignited spritz of herbaceous Green Chartreuse to help open the citrus oil and toffee and chocolate notes of the Woodford Reserve Double Oak to remind you that you don’t always know what is happening behind the behind closed doors.