Some people like to say you shouldn't mess with a classic, but I'm convinced that that's just because they haven't had a Maple Manhattan yet.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love me a proper traditional Manhattan, but there's something downright alchemical about the way that sweet maple and spicy rye come together.
It's a combination that somehow elevates all the best qualities of a Manhattan, without compromising on what makes it such a damn fine cocktail to begin with. No fizzy mixers, no frou-frou umbrellas, no fruity neon-coloured liqueurs, no nonsense.
Admittedly, I have a soft spot for Manhattans in general, for entirely sentimental reasons.
Where some couples have "our song", but my husband and I like to think of the Manhattan as "our cocktail". (We're not heavy drinkers or anything. We just love us some old-school cocktails.) It is the gold standard of cocktails in my book.
The Secret to Stepping Up Your Manhattans
My secret weapon for making an extra-special Manhattan is the naturally-infused maple syrups from PURE Infused Maple Syrup. The syrups are made in Nova Scotia by Hutchison Acres, a family-owned farm whose owners were born and raised in Nova Scotia's famous Annapolis Valley.
I was lucky enough to be invited to try out a sampler pack through their partnership with the Food Bloggers of Canada, and am head over heels in love with them.
I was immediately impressed by the variety of creative flavour combinations, from lavender-chai to cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.
And unlike most flavoured syrups, the flavours in PURE Infused maple syrups are there to complement the natural sweetness of the maple, rather than competing with it.
How to Use Infused Maple Syrup in the Kitchen
Aside from making a great addition to cocktails, these syrups are surprisingly versatile in the kitchen, working equally well with sweet and savoury pairings.
Over the past few weeks, I've been adding them to pretty much everything I make. I've been pouring them over waffles, tossing them with roasted root vegetables, drizzling them over ice cream, and even brushing them onto chicken thighs.
However, my favourite way of using them is as a substitute for simple syrup in cocktails.
Meet Your New Favourite Cocktail: The Spiced Manhattan
Of all the cocktails I made, was this subtly spiced Manhattan made with the Vanilla, Cinnamon and Star Anise syrup was a hands-down winner.
If a regular Maple Manhattan owes its deliciousness to alchemy, then this Spiced Maple Manhattan is nothing short of pure magic.
It's smooth and sippable, just like a proper Manhattan should be, with hints of warm spice and mellow vanilla from both the syrup and the rye.
Despite the relatively generous pour of syrup that goes into the glass, it's not cloying at all. The rye still has enough bite to keep it grownup and complex, but it's still approachable and downright drinkable.
And there's even a cherry on top.
It's proof positive that a little change is always a good thing, even for the classics.
After all, in the words of the great Winston Churchill: "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."
I think that calls for a toast... don't you?
Disclosure: I was provided with a selection of PURE Infused Maple Syrups for review and recipe development purposes. All opinions expressed in this post are, as always, entirely my own.
This subtly spiced version of the classic Manhattan cocktail is made with rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and a splash of spiced maple syrup.
- 2 oz rye whiskey
- ½ oz sweet red vermouth
- ¼ oz PURE Infused Vanilla, Cinnamon and Star Anise Maple Syrup
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- Maraschino cherries, for ganish
- In a mixing glass, stir the bourbon, vermouth, maple syrup and bitters with ice.
- Strain into a lowball glass and garnish with a cherry.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Category: Drinks