While at this summer's Tales of the Cocktail, the annual hedonistic booze convention in New Orleans, Jena Ellenwood attended a tasting of George Dickel Tennessee whiskey. "They were pouring cocktails through smoked wood chips--delicious but impractical--serving them on one giant rock," recalls the bar mistress of Sparrow Tavern, Astoria's pre-eminent tippling joint. The memory of the drink stayed with her, and for Sparrow's fall cocktail menu, Ellenwood was determined to re-create "that flavor and aroma combo. I tried four bourbons before I realized Buffalo Trace would be ideal -- smooth, not too sweet, easily blended, and enough body for a good Manhattan." Now, before devouring the likes of pulled pork tacos and one of the city's best burgers, patrons can unwind with Ellenwood's warming Smokey Buffalo Manhattan, layered with sweet vermouth, whiskey barrel-aged bitters, and a hint of hickory-flavored liquid smoke. "The brandied cherries," she points out, "are my own addiction."
2 oz. Buffalo Trace bourbon
2 dashes Fee Brothers whiskey barrel-aged bitters
2 drops hickory flavored liquid smoke (available via Amazon.com)
Splash sweet vermouth
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir gently and pour strained mixture over brandy-soaked cherry in a chilled cocktail glass.