Drink This Now: Charlie Brown and more from Manifesto’s new winter cocktail menu

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On Monday night, Manifesto went live with its new winter cocktail menu, featuring 18 seasonal cocktails — that’s in addition to its 15 classics. I couldn’t resist popping in early this week to sample the goods, and a quick glance at the menu revealed a theme.

“When we thought about winter, we looked at the seasonal flavors,” bartender Jonathan “Tex” Bush tells me. “Winter is apple and pear and spices. Those are the flavors that we were looking at for this menu, so we’ve got a lot of clove and Christmas spices and star anise and cinnamon. That was our main focus — to get stuff in that warm taste profile.”

To amp it up, Manifesto has added three winter warmers. There’s a hot eggnog twist, a hot buttered rum and a mulled wine and cider combo called Saints & Sinners — which I decide I must try. It’s served undecorated in a ceramic mug, and I can barely make out the heavy garnet color in the darkness of the basement-level bar, but my first sip is the perfect temperature.

The drink contains East India Solera Sherry, Louisburg Apple Cider, pisco — a Peruvian or Chilean liquor made from grapes — and mulling spices. The pisco is a light-bodied alcohol, but it carries a profile similar to grappa, making it an excellent mate for sherry. Drinking the Saints & Sinners was like sipping on a hybrid apple orchard and vineyard — remember the Grapple? — and I had to talk myself out of ordering a second 

A drink called the Charlie Brown caught my eye next, larg%{[ data-embed-type=”image” data-embed-id=”” data-embed-element=”aside” ]}%ely due to one of its ingredients — mascarpone. It also contained Calvados, pumpkin-spiced shrub, bitters and maple. 

“The pumpkin shrub is where the name comes from, as a nod to Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving,” Bush says. “With the mascarpone cheese, I’ve actually used it in cocktails before, but it’s just something you don’t really think of in a drink.”

The Charlie Brown is shaken and served up, with the mascarpone forming a thick foam at the top of the drink. It looked innocent enough — a bit like a flip, where the egg would have lent some heaviness. I’m a little afraid I’ll be left with some kind of mascarpone mustache after I take a sip.

The cheese foam is at once creamy, airy and thick — not palpably like mascarpone, at least not immediately. It gives way to the Calvados — an apple brandy produced in Normandy — which I find sweet, but not cloying. 

I also elect to sample the Genepy Suisse, containing Dolin Génépy des Alpes (an herbal liqueur made with wormwood), Creme de Cacao, coffee cordial, cream and absinthe. This, too, is shaken, and the liquid is a ghostly white. It’s served in a stemmed crystal goblet and garnished with a single coffee bean. I’m reminded of the classic grasshopper cocktail, though Manifesto’s Genepy Suisse is a few degrees more sophisticated than the mint-green martini of the ’60s. The absinthe doesn’t dominate this drink, instead adding just a pleasant bite — a good counteractive measure to the sweetness presented by the other ingredients.  

Le Carbet is my final cocktail off this new menu, and definitely the most serious I’ve tried on this particular outing. I order it mostly for the Neisson Élevé Sous Bois — a rhum agricole from Martinique in France, distilled from sugar cane juice.

“Any rum that has the ‘h’ in it means it’s French,” Bush tells me. “This one is aged three years. It’s just a beautiful product.”

In the Le Carbet, it’s combined with lime bitters, Swedish Punsch — a Swedish liqueur made with sugar cane and herbs — and falernum, a sweet, spiced syrup with Caribbean origins. These ingredients are stirred and served over a single large ice cube in a double-rocks glass. The first sip was jarring — had I planned my evening better, I would not have progressed from sweet to sweeter drinks, and then ended with something stiff — but as I continued, I found the rhum agricole opening up and getting warmer, playing well with the deep caramel and brown sugar spice notes of the other ingredients. 

There were quite a few other items on Manifesto’s long list that tempted me — including several mezcal-based cocktails, but since winter in Kansas City appears to be stalling, I figure I have plenty of time to find myself back in Manifesto before the menu changes. 

See also:
The Bartender’s Notebook: Looking for Chartreuse at Manifesto
Drink This Now: 3975 at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar

Categories: Music