Friday, April 19, 2013

Rethinking a Classic Cocktail: The Cuban Manhattan



Last night I was having another "love the drink, hate the name" moment. A perfect Manhattan made with dark rum, (some recipes call for white rum), is known as a Cuban Manhattan. Like the "vodka martini" ... um, no. The Cuban Manhattan is a lovely drink, and goes well with a good cigar, but the name has to go.

All of the obvious alternatives that immediately popped to mind like The Cuban, and Havana had already been taken by other drinks. Dominican? Done. I ran through the names of other rum producing countries and, well, Tobago sounds more like a low-end Volkswagen.

Dottore Gustavo suggested Spanish Harlem, which I loved, but it too was taken for the "tequila Manhattan". Not one to give up, old Doc Gus pushed me to keep poking around Spanish Harlem to see if a name for the cocktail showed itself.

It did. Tito Puente. The "Musical Pope", "El Rey de los Timbales" himself, had lived in Spanish Harlem. The man who brought Caribbean and Afro-Cuban music to the world was the perfect choice. It is in his honor that I give you this variation on the classic Cuban Manhattan. I've replaced the dark rum with gold rum, left out the dry vermouth, (I find the flavor of perfect Manhattans to be less than perfect), upped the bitters and replaced the cherry with a lime twist. Make one tonight and raise a glass to Tito, won't you?

El Rey Puente

Two Parts Gold Rum (Gosling's Gold is a fine choice)
One Part Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica? Fit for a king.)
Two Dashes Angostura Bitters
Lime Twist

Mix rum, vermouth and bitters over ice and stir slowly. pour into a chilled martini glass,  rub the rim with the lime twist and garnish.

Now I leave you with Tito performing his classic 1963 song Oye Como Va, (you may know Carlos Santana's 1970 cover).