On a recent warm Monday evening, I stopped by the Astoria Coffee House & Bistro just moments before the crowd appeared for their famed sushi night. The timing was impeccable, as it gave me a chance to catch up with Cory Teubner, one of the most creative bartenders in town and a perennial favorite in Coast Weekend’s Readers’ Choice Awards.
Never one to remain static, Teubner tends to change the bar menu every four to six weeks or so, and had just updated things shortly before my visit.
That evening there was a pineapple-mint mojito on special doused with a housemade mint shrub, the bushy term for drinking vinegars which have become very popular as of late. The new drink menu for Monday sushi night even featured a cocktail infused with Chinese five spice, including Sichuan peppercorns, those little lip-smacking berries that are often toasted and ground to dust to inspire a tingle on the tongue. Teubner often sources ingredients from Pat’s Pantry spice shop on Commercial Street and beyond.
Even with a bar menu under constant seasonal renovation, some concoctions stick. Teubner estimates this Black Walnut Manhattan has been on the menu since it first appeared about two years ago because of its popularity.
Teubner pours by eye, but we estimated some measurements to help you get the proportions right. Even with this, the cocktail is incredibly potent and has a nice nutty note that would be welcome on a hot summer day or a cold rainy evening. And Teubner wasn’t kidding about this Manhattan’s popularity: In the hour it took me to work through this mammoth martini, he made at least four more for the gathering dinner crowd.
• 3 ounces Bulleit Bourbon or Rye
• 1 ounce dry vermouth
• 1 ounce Nocello walnut liqueur*
• 3-5 dashes black walnut bitters**, to taste
• Amarena black cherry* on a toothpick for garnish
Pour ice to the brim of a pint glass. Add all liquid ingredients until the pint glass is full. Carefully pour contents into a cocktail shaker and stir. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with the staked cherry.
*Both the Nocello liqueur and the Amarena black cherries in syrup that the Astoria Coffee House & Bistro use are made by the same revered Italian company, Toschi, and can be purchased online.
**Fee Brothers makes a nice black walnut bitters, which also includes hazelnuts. They are produced in New York state, which has the bonus of adding a smack of authenticity to your Manhattan.
—Recipe courtesy of Cory Teubner, bartender at Astoria Coffee House & Bistro, Astoria