The Manhattan cocktail—generally made of bourbon or rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters—is an American classic. There are variations of the drink widely available throughout the country, yet most attempts at improving the Manhattan fall far short of the original.
Enter Kevin Diedrich, master mixologist and head bartender at San Francisco’s Jasper’s Corner Tap and Kitchen located in the Serrano Hotel.
While one may not think that a hotel just steps from the famed Union Square shopping district would feature world-class cocktails, Diedrich and his team of bartenders are doing just that. His Smoking Gun cocktail, a variation on the classic Manhattan, manages to put a modern and sophisticated spin on the cocktail.
The Smoking Gun features Bulleit Bourbon as a base, a whiskey admired by bartenders for its high rye content which adds a spicy cinnamon note to the classic vanilla and caramel notes found in most bourbons. It’s complemented by house-made sweet vermouth, Bacardi 8 Year Rum, and a pleasant bitterness of the classic Italian aperitif Campari. The drink is then finished with a pipe tobacco tincture and two kinds of bitters.
While this is a drink that would be difficult to recreate completely at home, a modified version is easy enough with the right ingredients. For the actual cocktail, belly up to the bar at Jasper’s Corner Tap and Kitchen and ask for a Smoking Gun cocktail.
One word of warning for those who would attempt to completely recreate this drink at home: Tobacco infusions are best left to the experts. Tobacco contains a number of unpleasant chemicals that can be drawn out with infusion if not done carefully, and it’s possible to make yourself quite ill. That said, this is a delicious cocktail even without the tobacco tincture. Try this one at home to impress your guests; just remember to keep an eye on the amount people are consuming as this drink is completely alcohol.
The Smoking Gun Cocktail
Makes one drink
- 2 oz Bulleit Bourbon
- ¾ oz house-made sweet vermouth (variation: try Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth)
- ½ oz Bacardi 8 Year Rum
- ¼ oz Campari
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 dash orange bitters
- 1 dash pipe tobacco tincture (variation: omit)
- Chill a stemmed cocktail glass (also known as a martini glass).
- Add first 4 ingredients to a mixing glass.
- Add bitters, then top with ice.
- Stir for 30-45 seconds to chill the drink.
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.