It's the first snow day here in the Chicago area! The timing couldn't be more perfect. We set up our Christmas tree yesterday, and there's nothing sitting by the fire while the snow quietly falls. And to make room for the tree, we moved our TV to the basement...a move we're hoping will be a permanent one.
That means that if I want to enjoy the fire, falling snow, and twinkling lights, I have to do so without the accompaniment of The Office reruns or football games. We're not about to get rid of television all together, but at least this way, watching something won't be my immediate default. The option is no longer sitting there staring at me. It's a change I'll probably hate for the first couple weeks, but I think overall it'll be for the better.
I'm hoping to spend more time reading, which to me is the perfect cozy wintertime activity...and a good book requires a good beverage.
I first started playing around with this recipe a few months ago, when I was trying to figure out how to use the huge stash of ancho chiles I acquired. Yeah, random, I know. My brother was using ancho chiles for something and had extras, which then ended up at my house. So, if you've been following me for a while and you're wondering why I have two ancho chile posts in the last couple months, now you know why. (There will probably be more to come, too.)
This drink is a twist on the Manhattan, one of the most quintessential cocktails. Part of me doesn't want to mess with the perfection that the Manhattan already is, but then again, I can't help but change things up. I used Elk Rider Bourbon Whiskey from Heritage Distilling Company, and instead of the traditional angostura, this version uses orange bitters. The sweet vermouth is partially subbed out for ancho chile simple syrup, which gives this a spicy kick.
It's a cocktail that will warm you from the inside out - perfect for snow days, by the fire, with a good book in hand.
Ancho Chile Manhattan
Yields 1 cocktail
2 1/2 ounces bourbon (such as Elk Rider Bourbon)
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce ancho chile simple syrup (recipe below)
2 dashes orange bitters
Strip of lemon or orange zest
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, along with a handful of ice. Stir well, for about 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled glass. Serve with a strip of lemon or orange zest.
1 ancho chile
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Cut the ancho chile in half, and toss it in a small saucepan (along with all the seeds). Add the water and sugar. Heat over high heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar melts and the mixture comes to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, and simmer about 5-7 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. The syrup will thicken slightly as it cools.
Strain out the chile and the seeds using a fine mesh strainer. Store syrup in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Yields about 5-6 ounces of syrup (enough for 10-12 cocktails).
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