Food & Drink

How to Make a Manhattan + Cigar Pairing Recommendation

By John Pullo

Today’s classic cocktail is super easy to make: a hearty take on the Martini, there’s only three things on the list of Manhattan cocktail ingredients. And if you’ve seen the Marilyn Monroe classic Some Like It Hot, she’s already showed you how to make a Manhattan. We’ll show you again in our video below – and tell you why we’ve paired it with a robust, medium-full smoke from Crowned Heads.

We’re always on the hunt for something great to drink while smoking a cigar – but if we’re in the mood for something other than a single malt served neat, we dial up one of the overlooked and underappreciated legends: the classic Manhattan cocktail. An excellent winter warmer (but great year-round), it’s easy to make a Manhattan – you just have to make sure you like whiskey.

For today’s Manhattan drink how-to, we’re back at Leaf Cigar Bar and Restaurant at Famous Smoke Shop. A house favorite among the cigar lovers who come here, because of that spicy-sweet flavor. Something else that’s special about our Manhattan cocktail recipe that we feel sets it apart from the others: we use Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey. That’s what makes this iteration of the traditional Manhattan cocktail perfect for cigar smokers.

Why This is the Perfect Manhattan Drink for Cigar Lovers

Bulleit Bourbon has been a much talked-about whiskey among cigar smokers. Not just because it’s an award-winner that doesn’t carry a high price tag, but because it features some sensations commonly found in cigars: woody, spicy and sweet. If you want to get more specific, Master of Malt tells us that Bulleit is a high rye bourbon that hits both the nose and the palate with a tang of citrus, a dash of spice and a sweetness throughout. The finish is smooth and slightly dry, but doesn’t linger for an unwelcome amount of time. When pairing cigars with drinks, Bulleit does really well with any cigar that’s medium-bodied or more, and has some good spice to it.

With this highly regarded bourbon now part of your repertoire, we turn it over to our master mixer Chad to show you how he puts it all together. And besides the bourbon, what is in a Manhattan drink? If you’re going to make the classic Manhattan cocktail Leaf Cigar Bar style, this is what you’ll need…

Leaf’s Best Manhattan Cocktail Ingredients:

Watch to see how he makes it:

How to make the perfect Manhattan Drink, as Chad does above: start by chilling a cocktail glass with one scoop of ice (the glass gets colder faster if you fill it with water). Add the other scoop of ice to a cocktail shaker; measure and pour the Bulleit Bourbon and the vermouth, then add the dashes of bitters. Stir, don’t shake, the ingredients in the shaker. Empty the ice and water from the cocktail glass, then strain the contents of the shaker into the chilled glass. Garnish your Manhattan drink with the maraschino cherry, and serve!

Manhattan Cocktail Cigar Pairing: Four Kicks Black Belt Buckle by Crowned Heads

What separates our Manhattan drink recipe from most of the others out there is one subtle change in the choice of bourbon; and that same thinking was what inspired Jon Huber and Mike Conder of Crowned Heads. What would happen to the overall flavor profile of a cigar, if we were to just change the wrapper? How different would it really be? They chose the Four Kicks blend to try it out – and by replacing the original’s Ecuadorian Habano outer layer with a thick n’ juicy Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro, the Black Belt Buckle – and a whole new level of hearty flavor – was born. With this new, naturally sweet tobacco on the outside, and the Nicaraguan tobaccos on the inside – Black Belt Buckle smokes with sensations of citrus, dark wood and spice; these flavors make a superb complement to the subtle spice, oak and sweetness of the Bulleit.

How It Smokes

As I said before, Bulleit is recommended to pair with a cigar that’s medium-bodied or more, and shows off some nice spice…in the case of the Four Kicks Black Belt Buckle, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

With a rustic broadleaf wrapper, the Buckle burns slow and steady with a decent smoke output. Consistent and well balanced; you might notice that the sweetness lingers throughout, but the darker flavors and warm spices grow noticeably more intense the longer you smoke it. Check out our Black Belt Buckle cigar review panel video if you’d like to hear more about it.

Tasting Notes: Sweet tobacco, earth, wood, spice, espresso, citrus.

Full, deep flavor: that’s what you should get out of a well-prepared Manhattan cocktail, and what you’ll almost surely get from this Four Kicks. And now that you know how to make a Manhattan, try ‘em together and tell us if this pairing works for you!