“When you’re making a Manhattan variation the supplementary ingredients are really what change its personality.” This is the belief of Cicchetti’s longtime bar manager Chris Bollenbacher. The quaint, Venetian-inspired restaurant and bar in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood is found on the backside of its big sister restaurant, Serafina. The cozy barroom suits the aforementioned Manhattan variation perfectly — the Dark and Handsome, a cocktail that has sat proudly on the menu since the bar’s inception.
The Dark and Handsome is designed to be a spirit-forward drink, utilizing Elijah Craig Small Batch Kentucky Bourbon, which at 94 proof has more of an edge and aroma. Bollenbacher says he chose this bourbon and the remaining ingredients for the precise reason of how they enhance each other. (Local tip: here’s a few of our favorite NW bourbons to sub in!)
“It’s like a cook who adds stock to sauce — he wants to enhance the flavors without having the sauce taste like stock,” he adds. “The bourbon is the sauce and the bitters and vermouth are the stock.”
The analogy works nicely because while the four-ingredient drink has multiple flavors from the broubon, amaro, vermouth and bitters, each one melding together for a cohesive experience.
“I chose the Punt e Mes vermouth because of its dark color, no other vermouths are this dark,” the bartender says. “And the [amaro] works well with the Punt because it’s very smooth.”
Snag a seat at Bollenbacher’s bar top and pair this cocktail with a number of the tasty small plates offered by the Italian eatery, or stir it up yourself with this recipe.
Dark and Handsome
Makes 1 cocktail
2 ¼ ounces Elijah Craig Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
4 dashes Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6
½ ounces Punt e Mes Vermouth
¼ ounces Averna Amaro Siciliano
Garnish: lemon twist
Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass, stir in an ounce of ice and strain into a martini glass. Serve with a lemon twist.