The Manhancho

The Manhancho

THE SPIRIT OF THE MOMENT

The Manhancho

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Based on a 1927 recipe from the city of Puebla, Mexico, Ancho Reyes is a bewitching liqueur made from cane spirits and ancho chiles. It’s smoky and sweet, with complex heat that blooms, burns, and fades over a deliciously intense 30 seconds after the first sip.

July 19, 2015 | Text: David Rollins Photography: Rob Lee

 

THE SPIRIT OF THE MOMENT

The Manhancho

Based on a 1927 recipe from the city of Puebla, Mexico, Ancho Reyes is a bewitching liqueur made from cane spirits and ancho chiles. It’s smoky and sweet, with complex heat that blooms, burns, and fades over a deliciously intense 30 seconds after the first sip.

July 19, 2015 | Text: David Rollins Photography: Rob Lee

Chiles are an ongoing obsession for us – they’ve been the focus of much experimentation in the kitchen, inspired several out-of-the-way excursions, and necessitated a few white lies at international border-crossings. (You mean spices are plants?)

Anchos are particularly fascinating, with their complex fruitiness, woodiness, and earthiness. They’re a staple in our pantry, and their flavour enjoys pride of place in the liquor cabinet, too, thanks to Licor Ancho Reyes – a sensational spirit we discovered on a recent trip to Mexico.

Traditionally, many Mexican villages concocted their own signature menjunje – a blend of local plants and spirits – and the Reyes family is credited with creating the first of such libations to feature ancho. Their original 1920s recipe is recreated in this modern spirit, which was launched last year. We first tasted it while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, in a little cocktail bar that specialized in Manhattans. I’d never had one before, and the bartender took great pride in explaining the difference between a sweet, dry, and perfect Manhattan: the first uses only red vermouth, the second only white, and the third an equal mix of both.

“New cocktails are born from experimenting with flavour and listening to a gut instinct.”

– Tony Coniglario, The Cocktail Lab

After a few evenings of Manhattans, we asked about the bottle with the beautiful Art Deco label and were served two shots of Ancho Reyes. With its notes of cocoa, tamarind, leather, and dark cherry, we immediately imagined how it could transform a perfect Manhattan into something perfectly Mexican. And the Manhancho was born.

Some notes and suggestions: if you’re curious about the flavour of Ancho Reyes but can’t find it, you can roughly approximate its character by steeping roasted anchos in dark rum for a few days. Don’t wait too long, and taste frequently, as the chile flavour intensifies quickly. Replacing the traditional Angostura bitters in the recipe with something crafty like coffee bitters adds further intrigue. And don’t forget to chill your glasses. Salud!

The Manhancho

makes one cocktail

  • 1 ½ oz. Bourbon
  • ½ oz. white vermouth
  • ½ oz. red vermouth
  • ½ oz. Ancho Reyes
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • cocktail cherry, twist of orange

Fill a small cocktail pitcher with ice, and add all the liquids. Stir for 30 seconds. Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with a cocktail cherry and a twist of orange.

Spiced cocktail cherries

Makes about one pint

  • 20 (or so) ripe cherries
  • 2 star anise
  • 5 cloves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 1 2-inch stick of cinnamon
  • 1/3 Tahitian vanilla pod
  • 1 C brandy

Toast the spices (except the vanilla) until fragrant in a hot pan. Add them along with the vanilla to a pint jar with a tight-fitting lid. Fill with cherries and brandy, and refrigerate. The cherries will take a few weeks to absorb the flavour of the spices, and will keep for about a year in the fridge.

The Manhancho: a spicy spin on the classic Manhattan.
A Mexican ancho chile liqueur and home-made cocktail cherries put a spicy, smoky spin on the classic Manhattan.

4 Comments

  1. Gluttonforlife 2 years ago

    GENIUS

  2. David 2 years ago

    Thanks, Laura!

  3. Nishta 2 years ago

    Just discovered your new blog – was an avid Dog’s Breakfast reader – and am so, so happy you’re back. Merry Christmas to me!

    • Author
      Rob 1 year ago

      Hey there – glad you found us again! So nice to see you again! 🙂

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