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manhattan Baba Bar

2018 Best Cocktails in America: Cinema Manhattan

These 10 cocktails, representing leading bar trends, were selected by editors of Restaurant Hospitality to spotlight innovation. Read on and get inspired. See all the winners >>

Where to find it: Baba Bar, Arlington, Va.

Price: $15

Creator: Danilo Simic, mixologist and beverage director

Ingredients: Bourbon infused with caramel popcorn, a port-Coke reduction, cherry bitters

Trend: Remaking the Manhattan

The Manhattan cocktail has various origin stories, which is not surprising considering it’s one of the most requested drinks and one that bartenders love to reinvent.

A popular origin story puts the cocktail’s beginnings at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870s, where according to Wikipedia it may have been invented by Dr. Iain Marshall for a banquet hosted by Winston Churchill’s mother Jennie Jerome in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden.

Whether or not that’s true, the classic mix of American whiskey, vermouth and bitters now serves as the framework for a million variations on the theme. The classic is good. But it can be made even better.

At the Balkan-inspired Baba Bar in Arlington, Va., the Manhattan is the most requested cocktail, said mixologist Danilo Simic.

Simic thinks of sitting at the bar as a bit like watching a movie. “But here, you watch the bartender in action,” he said.

So Simic decided to give his Manhattan a movie-themed twist.

Going to the movies means popcorn and Coke, so Simic infused the bourbon with caramel popcorn. He created a port and Coke reduction in the place of sweet vermouth, adding a little allspice and house-made cherry bitters.

The drink is served with spicy caramel popcorn on the side, to further call out the flavors in the bourbon and give guests something to nibble on. It has become a best seller, he said.

TAGS: Drink Trends
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