Chocolate Manhattan

Tonight's cocktail was another swing at the Chocolate Manhattan recipe. I'm not sure why I'm a little obsessed with trying to make this one work, but I thought I'd give it one last try. When we last left Flash, the drink was getting there but needed something to cut through the chocolate -- it was still too sweet and I thought it needed a kick of spice and heat to balance it out.

Enter Dana Hanna, who suggested I try the Chesapeake Bay Bitters from the Bitter End. So when I was up at the Napa Valley Distillery's shop in the Oxbow Market yesterday, I took the opportunity to sample some. They were pretty much what I was looking for; the kick of the cayenne pepper pushes them over the top.

I also had another thought about cutting the bitterness and decided to swap Amaro Montenegro in for the sweet vermouth. This was bad experimentation on my part as I was playing with two variables at the same time, but I thought it was a pretty safe bet. I wanted to bring in some orange and orange peel into play and a bit more bitterness to counter the chocolate.

The result works pretty well. You get a nice taste of the rye on the sip, followed by some nice bitter and heat, and then a mouth full of chocolate to cool stuff off and leave you wanting another taste. I think I'm not 100% dialed in on this one yet; I might try cutting the Creme de Cacao back a bit. But for now, I'm just going to enjoy this drink.


I'm calling this a Manhattan variation, because it starts with the basic 2-1-2 Manhattan formula. 2 parts whisky - 1 part vermouth - 2 dashes bitters. In this case, I swaped out the vermouth for the amaro and the creme de cacao. I tend to prefer a 2 oz - 0.75 oz ratio for my traditional Manhattans and I'd probably go with just 0.25 oz of the creme de cacao next time.


  • 2 oz Rye Whisky (I used Old Overhold, because it is cheap, delicious, and perfect for mixing.)
  • 1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
  • 1/2 oz. Creme de Cacao (I used the Tempus Fugit stuff. Delicious!)
  • 2 dashes Bitter End Chesapeake Bay Bitters


  1. Combine everything in a mixing glass, add ice, and stir to chill.
  2. Strain into a cocktail coupe 
  3. Garnish with an orange twist 
  4. Enjoy!

By the way, if you're looking to build up your bitters collection, the Bitter End variety pack there has an interesting selection at a good price. Yes, it is an affiliate link. One day, I'll tempt one of you into buying something through those.