Little Italy Cocktail

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Published: 12/14/23

little italy cocktail
Table of Contents

The Little Italy is a captivating riff on the classic Manhattan, a cocktail that traces its roots back to the 19th century. The Manhattan is traditionally crafted with bourbon or rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and aromatic bitters. However, Little Italy takes this classic recipe and infuses it with a modern twist, replacing the conventional bitters with the complex and herbal notes of artichoke-based amaro Cynar. This substitution adds an unexpected layer of depth and sophistication to the cocktail, elevating it beyond the ordinary and creating a unique sensory experience.

The choice of amaro Cynar as a substitute for traditional bitters is a stroke of mixological genius. Cynar, traditionally consumed as an aperitif or digestive, has a distinct blend of artichoke, herbs, unique earthiness, and botanicals, bringing a bittersweet complexity that harmonizes seamlessly with the other ingredients. This alteration not only pays tribute to the Italian influence but also showcases the versatility of classic cocktail recipes. The result is a cocktail that retains the essence of Manhattan while introducing a novel flavor profile.

The Little Italy Cocktail was developed by the renowned bartender Audrey Saunders in 2005 for the opening menu of Pegu Club. As the founder of Pegu Club, a now-closed iconic cocktail lounge in New York City, Saunders was instrumental in revitalizing the craft cocktail scene. Her commitment to quality ingredients, precision in mixology, and dedication to pushing boundaries set the stage for the creation of inventive cocktails like this one.

Saunders’ inspiration for Little Italy draws from the vibrant cultural tapestry of New York City. The namesake neighborhood, with its Italian heritage and culinary diversity, serves as a muse for this Manhattan riff.

The Little Italy Cocktail’s journey from the inventive confines of Audrey Saunders’ Pegu Club to broader recognition is further solidified by its inclusion in the acclaimed book “3-Ingredient Cocktails” by Robert Simonson, published in 2017. Robert Simonson, a distinguished cocktail journalist and author, showcases the simplicity and elegance of cocktails that can be crafted with just three key ingredients. The inclusion of the Little Italy Cocktail in this esteemed collection is a testament to its enduring appeal and the recognition it has garnered within the cocktail aficionado community.

Little Italy Recipe

  1. 60 ml rye whiskey

  2. 15 ml Cynar

  3. 22.5 ml sweet vermouth

  4. Ice

  5. Garnish: Luxardo maraschino cherry

little italy drink

How to Make a Little Italy Cocktail

  1. Add the rye whiskey, Cynar, and sweet vermouth into a mixing glass.

  2. Add ice and stir for 10-12 seconds, until chilled.

  3. Strain into a coupe glass.

  4. Garnish with a Luxardo maraschino cherry.

3-Ingredient Cocktails: An Opinionated Guide to the Most Enduring Drinks in the Cocktail Canon