Magnus Cocktail Competition & ‘Such a Nasty Woman’ Cocktail Recipe
Ever since our delightful visit to Joseph A. Magnus’ Murray Hill Club, we’ve been looking for a good excuse to buy ourselves a bottle of their beautiful Bourbon. We’ve wanted that bottle of Magnus because it’s so luxurious, and it would be a great souvenir of a wonderful evening with people and cocktails that were a joy to be around, and because we wanted to validate all the care and hard work that went into making this whiskey. But when it came down to it, we just haven’t been able to go ahead and buy it. While we’re no strangers to expensive bottles of liquor, we usually limit ourselves to rather moderately priced whiskeys. Since we almost exclusively use our whiskey for mixing in cocktails, in which the subtleties of the whiskey can be obscured by the other ingredients, it’s hard to justify a truly fine one. Not only could it be something of a waste of money, it could also be a waste of a good bottle. It’s been our attitude that something like Magnus’ straight Bourbon deserves to be sipped neat, so that you can fully appreciate it in all its singular complexity. We need something that goes well with anything; so we usually stock something that’s good enough to make a decent Manhattan, but inexpensive enough and jack-of-all-trades enough that we don’t mind throwing it into a cocktail with 3 or 4 other ingredients.
Then last week the folks at Magnus finally gave us the perfect justification we’ve been looking for. They hosted a competition to adapt a classic cocktail to highlight the unique qualities of their whiskey. We dropped everything and went straight to the liquor store to pick up our bottle. It was no longer an indulgence; it was an investment in the contest. It was no longer a potential insult to the whiskey; the distiller herself was asking us to mix her spirit. It was no longer a waste of the whiskey’s uniqueness; we were specifically being asked to design a drink that brought out the best in it.
The experimentation felt like a lavish immersion in a great whiskey, if also occasionally that waste of a good whiskey we were afraid of. I think we tried about ten different ideas. A few of them were sad disappointments. A few times we accidentally re-created already existing recipes. The good news with those is we have a catalog of well-suited recipes for our remaining Magnus (the Waldorf in particular worked well); but we couldn’t exactly enter them into the competition.
Here’s what we eventually came to, a recipe we think makes good use of our style to bring out what’s great about the Magnus Straight Bourbon and to make it accessible even to cocktail drinkers who usually stay away from whiskey. We hope Magnus likes it, and we hope you do too. And at the very least, we’re quite happy to have half a bottle of this wonderful Bourbon remaining in our bar.
We started with a Hoots Mon, thinking that the sweet, delicate herbs of the Cocchi Americano would create a nice canvas on which the whiskey could work. We reversed the proportions of whiskey and Cocchi, because we wanted to use only as much whiskey as necessary to bring out its uniqueness and because we wanted this to be a sort of gateway to the Magnus, leading non-whiskey drinkers to think, ‘Maybe I do like whiskey after all.’ And we replaced the Hoots Mon’s sweet vermouth with amaro instead, because the Bourbon brings plenty of sweetness of its own (as compared to the standard Hoots’ Scotch), and we wanted to add some herbal bite instead. And we added a bacon wrapped fig for garnish, because an extravagant whiskey cocktail deserves an extravagant garnish.
- 2 oz Cocchi Americano
- 1 oz Jos. A. Magnus Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- 1/2 oz Don Ciccio & Figli Amaro Sirene
- a bacon-wrapped fig, for garnish
- Stir with ice until well-chilled, about 30 rotations.
- Garnish with bacon-wrapped fig.