I might as well face it: I'll always be trying to remake the Manhattan.
The Manhattan itself a dark seasons classic, I wanted to add some autumnal/festive-seasons richness with a brooding quality to the mix. The cassis and nocino had been calling out to me, so I chanced it:
Falling Sun Manhattan
2 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
1/4 oz crème de cassis
1/4 oz nocino
1/4 oz sweet vermouth (Vya)
1 dash Bittercube Bolivar bitters
1 dash Regan's orange bitters
Stir, strain, large ice cube, rocks.
Express and garnish.
It's a bit sweet, but it rises to blog-worthy status based on its well-illuminated complexity; the tart and bitter turns of each liqueur opens up the cocktail well beyond the standard Manhattan. (oddly enough, I tried subbing in Rittenhouse rye for half the bourbon for balance only to find the flavors collapsed) Buffalo Trace's structure and....I wanna say flavor clarity, it interweaves so well...does some heavy lifting, bringing not only its own wood notes as a foundation but enunciating the cassis and the bitter herbs underneath. Not every bourbon will be as successful, either; I know of several in my cabinet which would just be too blunt and inarticulate here.
Also, keep the orange away from the cassis, lest you find them on honeymoon in your mouth! As if it weren't bad enough already with the bitters adding a degree of spice...
This would be perfect to drink while enjoying a Sagittarian sunset (which, come to think, start today). The dark hours grow earlier and the landscapes bleaker, but those sunsets... Royal blue and shaded gold melded into a full jewel-toned rainbow. The weariness in body and soul comes easier now, but the world and the year show us they are still pregnant as currant berries with unspent meaning. And that satisfies.