This spicy Manhattan-lite is perfect for summer
We love us a Manhattan Cocktail. As traditionally made, though, it can be a bit heavy for warm weather.
But fear not. The Fourth Regiment is here to save us.
It has less whiskey and more sweet vermouth than a traditional Manhattan, so it’s less alcoholic. And it uses three different kinds of bitters, which gives it a spicy, aromatic flavor that pairs well with many summer foods. Like barbecue, for example.
Sometimes it pays to march to a different drummer.
Recipe: Fourth Regiment Cocktail
This is an old drink, dating back at least to 1889. But it’s been forgotten about in recent decades. That’s probably because one of its key ingredients – celery bitters – went out of production.
But good news! Celery bitters are available again in the US, so we can start making drinks (like the Fourth Regiment) that call for them.
We learned about this drink from Robert Hess, and we use his recipe. Our friend Greg Henry also has a nice version of this drink on his blog, Sippity Sup.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves 1.
- 1 ounce rye or bourbon (we prefer rye, but bourbon is nice too)
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1 dash celery bitters (Fee Brothers and Bitter Truth both make good ones)
- 1 dash orange bitters
- 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters (can substitute Angostura bitters)
- lemon twist for garnish (optional)
- Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a mixing glass half filled with ice. Stir briskly until well chilled.
- Strain into a cocktail glass (preferably one that’s been chilled). Garnish with a lemon twist, if you wish, and serve.
- This drink is equally good served on the rocks in an Old Fashioned glass. And it’ll stay cold a bit longer – important in warm weather.
- We generally stir (rather than shake) this drink because all the ingredients are clear. Shaking introduces small oxygen bubbles, which can make a drink cloudy. Cloudiness isn’t a problem when you mix a drink with opaque ingredients (like citrus, for example), so we generally shake those.
- But shake this up if you want. We often do. That “different drummer” thing, you know.
- We like to use rye in Manhattans (and their variants), but many people prefer bourbon. Use whichever you like – as long as it’s of good quality.
- The ratio of sweet vermouth to whiskey (1:1) in this cocktail makes the drink a bit on the sweet side. So use good-quality sweet vermouth (any name brand will work).
- Celery bitters make a fun ingredient, with a fragrance that reminds us more of dried celery than fresh – but in a good way. If your local liquor store doesn’t stock celery bitters, you can find them online. The two brands we know about are Bitter Truth and Fee Brothers. Both make good-quality stuff.
- Angostura bitters aren’t traditional in this drink, but they make an interesting substitute for Peychaud’s.
Lost and Found
“Love the celery bitters in this drink,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Hard to believe they fell out of favor for so long.”
“And how could drinkers have forgotten this cocktail?” I said. “It’s perfect for summer.”
“I guess the blotto have short memories,” said Mrs K R. “So which Fourth Regiment was this named after?”
“Alas, no one knows,” I said. “The history of the cocktail has been lost.”
“Along with the drinkers’ watches and wallets, no doubt,” said Mrs K R.
“Guess we need to drink this more often,” I said. “To keep its memory alive.”
“And our memories?” said Mrs K R. “Not so much.”
Bitter truth, indeed.
You may also enjoy reading about:
The Hern's Cocktail
The Brainstorm Cocktail
Or check out the index for more