Preakness Manhattan

Preakness Manhattan can be considered as an evolution of the well-known classic Manhattan cocktail. As is often the case with cocktails boasting a rich history, the Manhattan has inspired numerous adaptations over the years.

The Preakness cocktail is one of such fascinating modifications.

The Preakness Stakes, a prestigious American thoroughbred horse race held in Baltimore, Maryland since 1873, provided the inspiration. The event’s namesake traces back to a colt that triumphed in the first Dinner Party Stakes in 1870 at Pimlico Race Course, which eventually became the venue for the Preakness Stakes. The official drink associated with this event is the Black-Eyed Susan, often colloquially referred to as the Preakness cocktail. However, it’s essential to note that considering the Black-Eyed Susan as equivalent to the true Preakness cocktail is akin to mislabeling a mule as a thoroughbred racehorse. The Black-Eyed Susan is essentially a Screwdriver with a splash of whiskey.

In the realm of grand horse races, the festivities extend beyond the tracks to include balls for well-heeled patrons. The inception of the Preakness Ball in 1936 marked a milestone in this tradition. A competition ensued to select the official cocktail for this affair. Emerging as the victor was George Backert, the head bartender at Baltimore’s Emerson Hotel. He ingeniously reimagined the classic Manhattan cocktail by introducing Benediction liqueur into the mix. The traditional Manhattan combines whiskey, Vermouth rosso, and Angostura bitters. With the introduction of Benedictine, the cocktail undergoes a remarkable transformation, acquiring fresh herbal notes that alter its aromatic spectrum. To complete this variation, it is garnished not with a cherry but with a twist of lemon zest, imparting a zesty citrus flair.

Simon Difford has his own interpretation of the Preakness cocktail— Preakness Manhattan -injecting a touch of cognac into the recipe. This subtle alteration yields a drier, more complex, and aromatic composition.

Furthermore, the Preakness Manhattan could be perceived as a variant of the Vieux Carré cocktail, a presentation of New Orleans’ influence within the Manhattan lineage. The Vieux Carré opposite to Preakness Manhattan is based on rye whiskey instead of bourbon, incorporates Peychaud’s bitters, and employs distinct proportions.

In essence, the Preakness Manhattan stands as a nice e example of the myriad variants that can arise from the Manhattan, each offering a distinct and tasty experience.

1 1/2 oz / 45 ml Bourbon whiskey
1/4 oz / 7.5 ml Cognac
1/2 oz / 15 ml Benedictine D.O.M.
1/2 oz / 15 ml Sweet Vermouth
3 dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

Garnish with lemon zest.

Cocktail glass

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