Imbibing Friday-evening cocktails (especially after a week of deadlines) has become a cherished editorial practice here at the Robb Report headquarters in Malibu, Calif. And for the last couple months, a sort of simplified Manhattan has been the cocktail of choice. Late last year, the bourbon maker Woodford Reserve released its latest cocktail mix-ins: Bourbon Cherries ($16.95) and Aromatic Bitters and Sassafras and Sorghum Bitters ($16.50). And while these mix-ins will make any cocktail that calls for them an extravagant one, we have found that our modified Manhattan recipe—Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, a healthy dose of one of these bitters varieties, and a small splash of the juice from the cherries, with a lone cherry garnish—wonderfully satiates our 5 o’clock cocktail craving.
Each jar of the Bourbon Cherries contains 20 cherries that have been soaked in Woodford Reserve bourbon and sweetened with natural ingredients. They taste of rich bourbon with just the right amount of oak notes but they are not overly sweet. Woodford Reserve makes both the Aromatic and Sassafras and Sorghum Bitters, which follow last year’s release of Spiced Cherry Bitters ($18.95), with gentian root and other spices and ages them with alcohol in bourbon barrels. The Aromatic Bitters burst with scents of clove and nutmeg and are considerably more vibrant and complex than the standard-issue bitters found on most bars. The Sassafras and Sorghum Bitters are a delightful alternative to traditional bitters, with flavors of anise and sarsaparilla, and they provide a welcome twist to our simplified Manhattan. These new mix-ins are sure to do the same to any cocktail in which they are included. (www.woodfordreserve.com)