Where to Drink on the PCH: Pebble Beach
When we spent the first week and a half of January on a driving tour of California, introducing our new child to some of our favorite people and places, our family kindly lent us one of their cars for the occasion, asking only a small favor in return. Our golf-crazed father(-in-law) asked that when we stop in Carmel we make a small detour through Pebble Beach Golf Resort to pick up their 2018 calendar, which you can apparently only purchase onsite. The request came with a tip: if you’re at Pebble Beach around sundown, get a drink at Spanish Bay, where it’s accompanied by a great view of the sunset and the sounds of a bagpiper slowly making his way down the final fairway; if you are there during the day, get your drink at the main lounge, where you have an excellent view of the bay beyond the 18th hole green. We felt known.
We gained a new appreciation for what a hot commodity this calendar is when we found that, on January 2nd, it was already sold out at the pro shop and two of the gift stores. The clerk at one of the stores started calling around to the various other Pebble Beach merchants; luckily, she was finally able to find it still in stock at the sandwich shop, of all places. Since it was daylight, we duly made our way to the terrace beside the 18th hole for our drink and ocean view.
The view was indeed spectacular. The cocktail menu was short and conservative: a sidecar, a Bloody Mary, a Manhattan, and a Jack Niklaus/Jack Daniels play on an Arnold Palmer. Iconic though Pebble Beach is, I guess it’s still the 19th hole of a golf course when all is said and done. Well, as long as they’re done well, you can do a lot worse than a sidecar or a Manhattan to accompany a beautiful view.
What We Ordered
Pebble Beach Manhattan: single barrel, cask strength Knob Creek; Dolin sweet vermouth; amaro Averna; whiskey barrel bitters
What We Thought
Taking our cue from the quality of ingredients, we decided for the Manhattan over the sidecar. It was indeed a well-made, luxurious drink. The cask strength of the whiskey gave it an extra little kick, but the vermouth and Averna matched it with sweetness and spice. It was an excellent rendition of what we’ve come to call a Semi-Black Manhattan.
In a Black Manhattan, you replace the vermouth with amaro. This makes the drink stronger and more bitter. We like strong, and we like bitter. But we also like the softer spices of a classic Manhattan. Often, we just end up splitting the difference. So did Pebble Beach.
Semi-Black Manhattan Cocktail Recipe
- 2 oz rye or Bourbon whiskey
- 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
- 1/2 oz amaro
- 1 dash orange bitters
- orange twist or Luxardo cherry, for garnish
- Combine whiskey, vermouth, amaro, and bitters in a mixing glass.
- Fill with ice to the level of the liquid.
- Stir until the ice is noticeably melted.
- Strain into a cocktail glass.