If your Manhattan is getting stale, allow us to introduce you to the Black Manhattan, an inky black variation that swaps in complex and bitter amaro for the usual sweet vermouth. While Amaro Averna is the conventional amaro of choice, there are plenty of others out there, and each will transform your cocktail in a different way. So turn out the lights on your Manhattan with these seven amari.
For a Standard Black Manhattan: Averna
If you’re just starting your journey to the dark side of the Manhattan, take baby steps. Averna provides the bitter herbal edge one would expect from an amaro cocktail, and it’ll still dye your Manhattan a sultry tint, but the sweet amaro maintains a mostly mellow vibe with tastes of orange and caramel.
For a Jack & Coke of Black Manhattans: Ramazzotti
The easy-sipping Ramazotti offers notes of cola and root beer on top of fruity sweetness. Underlying spices in the amaro like chicory, cinnamon and gentian pick up on the rye’s natural flavors, combining with Angostura for a peppy Manhattan capable of picking you up midway through a sleepless New York night.
For a Lightly Smoky Black Manhattan: Sfumato
Though Sfumato roughly translates to “smoky” in Italian, this modern spin on the classic style of Rabarbaro amaro (made from rhubarb) is more delicate than you might think. You won’t get hit over the head by ash and fire, instead the spirit brings a light and airy bitterness to the drink, adding just a hint of smoke to the background.
For a Citrusy Black Manhattan: Nonino
Ditch the cherry and pilfer the fruit basket for a citrusy take on the Black Manhattan. Nonino is relatively easy on the bitter herbs, and complements the drink’s sweeter notes with a light citric, orange flavor. Opt for bourbon or a mellower rye to let the amaro’s character burst from the tree.
For a Dry-Rubbed Manhattan: Cardamaro
Flavored with cardoons (a type of thistle and relative to the artichoke), Cardamaro’s deep, nutty flavor and dry spices make it great for sipping solo. But when introduced to rye in a Manhattan, it is revelatory and yields dusty, almost yeasty notes, which float above woody sweetness similar to oloroso sherry.
For an Earthy Black Manhattan: Cynar
This artichoke-based amaro provides your Manhattan with menthol undertones and hints of licorice and espresso, along with a vegetal, earthy mouthfeel from the ‘choke. For a heavyweight variation, try Cynar 70 Proof, which can easily stand up to any base of your choosing.
The Blackest of Black Manhattans: Fernet
Using fernet in a Manhattan creates an odd hybrid, somewhere between a classic Manhattan and a Toronto, which includes simple syrup along with the whiskey and amaro. Nixing the simple allows fernet’s menthol notes shine, so be sure to use a spicy rye capable of matching the the amaro’s power, or switch to bourbon to account for the lost sweetness. Needless to say, this is the Black Manhattan of choice for fernet-loving San Franciscans.