Friday Cocktails: The Massamanhattan

By Helen Rosner

Published on December 9, 2011

When I'm in a crowded, unfamiliar bar and I'm getting the eyebrow from an impatient bartender, my go-to drink is a Manhattan. It's not my favorite cocktail, or the simplest thing to make, but it's a reliable standby. It's easy to order and hard to mishear, and it's also hard for the bartender to mess up: even a cruddy Manhattan is still pretty good. It's rare, though, that I'll order one when I'm facing down a cocktail menu. So it was a surprise to me that when I looked over the drink list not too long ago at New York City restaurant Kin Shop, a Thai spot run by chef Harold Dieterle, the Massamanhattan was the one that called my name.

Developed by the restaurant's beverage director Julia Travis, it's inspired by the mélange of spices in one of the restaurant's curries. It hits all the points of a classic Manhattan — vermouth, bitters, and rye, just the way I like it — but instead of a cherry for sweetness, the drink is spiked with a hit of Massaman syrup, a deep, spicy-sweet concoction infused with mace, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. Garnished with a twist of orange for aromatics and served straight up, it's the perfect foil to a dish of the restaurant's addictively fiery duck laab salad — and making it at home since then, it turns out to be the ideal drink for chilly winter nights, as well.

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