Smoked Rye Manhattan
We spent a wonderful weekend in Portland, Main back in June 2021. We lived in Portland for several years in the early 1990s, and we still like to go up and visit once in a while. My wife had some travel points on a credit card to score us a cheap hotel room (because, let me tell you, there is no such thing as a cheap hotel room in Maine in the summer), and we hit up some old haunts. We also met up for dinner and drinks with our friends Tony and Sharon, who live nearby and ended up at The Independent Ice Company, a whiskey bar in the Old Port. Our original plan was to go somewhere else for dinner, but it was hard to get a reservation anywhere, so we parked our butts in the bar, ordered off their small food menu, and made an evening of it.
This is one of their signature cocktails, a smoke-infused Manhattan. I love a good Manhattan, and the smoke infusion sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a try. As you can see from the photo, they literally bring a bottle of wood smoke to your table and “pour” it into the drink. Looking at their online menu just now, I see that they say the wood is “Knob Creek American oak chips”, so oak chips that have been soaked in the same Knob Creek rye that the drink is made from.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the novelty, but I don’t know if it really added that much to the experience of having a Manhattan. What I like about Manhattans is the interplay between the spicy rye and the sweet red vermouth, and smoke is kind of an easily overwhelming flavor/aroma component. We had a secound round of drinks, and I did not order a second one, I just had a whiskey on the rocks.