We discovered this magic one night when we ponied up to the bar at our favorite New York City restaurant, The Beatrice Inn. We explained to one of their bartenders, Robert Amburn, that we were in the mood for something warm and brown and before we could finish our thought he had his slab of cherry wood out in front of us with his cooking torch fired up. He was torching the wood and then setting the low ball on top of the burning wood to smoke the glass. It nearly brought a tear to our eye as well as a heavy gulp of jealousy and excitement.
His smoked Manhattan was one for the books.
After imbibing this hazy brilliance we headed back over to ‘The Bea’ later that week to interview Amburn about his now classic cocktail. While we know this master craft is performed at other bars, we were especially intrigued by Amburn’s tale of the actual cherry tree.
“This tree nearly ended my life,” Amburn explained. It fell 50 feet in front of his front door. Since his life was spared, he could only think of one thing to do with that tree, bring it to the bar. Conveniently, Amburn is also a carpenter, so he had the great pleasure of milling it up.
“When you are cutting with the saw, it burns the wood and you smell the amazing wood smoke. When Chef asked me to find a fruitwood for this cocktail I knew this would be perfect since it doesn’t have the acrid smokiness that is part of the flavor of mesquite, hickory or oak,” he told us.
It pairs extraordinarily well with their 60-day dry aged rib eye and lamb tartar. It also is the perfect partner to their bone marrow Crème brûlée.
Go forth gents and do George Washington proud, chop down that cherry tree and delight your friends and family with a smoky Manhattan.