the moxie manhattan
the word play got me. “corn syrup”, the moxie menu told me, as it described the contents of its moxie manhattan. for some reason, i didn’t immediately associate this with the plastic bottle you empty into your pecan pie. corn made me think of bourbon and think that it might somehow be a delicious addition to a drink.
i even asked the hyperactive bartender, whose response included the words “corn infusion” and indicated that he didn’t know any more than i. it was the bacon garnish that pushed me to order it – aside from gelatin, i’d never had meat in a cocktail.
with my first glimpse came skepticism. it was cloudy, and i’m very anti-cloud. in weather and in manhattans. whisky makers work hard to make clear whisky; i think it should stay this way and this is why manhattans are stirred. the bacon garnish, with some hard maple candy on it, was, aesthetically, the sun trying to get through the clouds, but the meat brought its friend grease and let it have the run of the surface of the drink.
i couldn’t write it off yet – think what i would have missed if i’d done the same with pâté. nothing vile happened on my first sip. actually nothing happened aside from the sensation of sweet whisky. i kept searching for the flavor of corn. and then wondered if someone had really meant corn syrup – as in karo – on the menu. the lovely flavor contrasts that come in a manhattan – wood and leather and bitter from the whisky, sweet from the vermouth, depth from the bitters – were completely obscured to an oval taste where nothing stood out. there was no nerve, if you will.
when the bartender inquired at my slow progress, i told him nothing was wrong – it probably wasn’t, it’s likely the drink tasted just like it was supposed to. in order to find out, he grabbed a straw, reached across the bar and tasted my drink – mind you, i’d only met the guy twenty minutes before and didn’t get any say in this action.
though i think classic manhattans are a gift from god, i can’t resist trying the wild number of variations available. about fifty percent of them are delicious, particularly the brooklyn series, including the bushwick, the greenpoint, and my very favorite, the redhook (available at vessel and sun liquor, thank god). the moxie manahattan didn’t make it into this group.
i love moxie for its brunch hash, its tongue dish, its oyster and vodka shooter, and its hilarious motto (“food with nerve”). i should have spent my 9 moxie bucks on one of those things.