The Best Manhattan in New York City

This month, local bartenders competed in the 2016 Manhattan Experience, sponsored by Woodford Reserve, where Francesco Dionese‘s original recipes were named the best in New York City. In addition to creating their perfect Manhattan, Dionese and the other participating bartenders were also tasked with creating and presenting an original cocktail made with Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. The Manhattan Experience, a national cocktail competition conducted by and the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG), allows mixologists to showcase their creativity and expertise through uniquely-crafted cocktails. Last night’s event saw 89 applications from the area.
After beating out nine other competitors at the local level, Dionese will move on to the next round of the competition, where his recipes will be judged against the winning recipes from the 33 additionally participating markets. As a semi-finalist, Dionese and the other regional winners will be given an all-expense paid trip to the Woodford Reserve Distillery, courtesy of and the USBG. There, the bartenders will experience a VIP tour led by Master Distiller Chris Morris, and it will be announced which six finalists will advance to the competition’s final round in New York.

Dionese innovative approach to mixology is represented in his winning Manhattan recipe as well as his original cocktail, The Lost Borough, which features small batch and homemade ingredients. Both recipes are included below.
“It is truly gratifying to win a competition with cocktails made with Woodford Reserve, a spirit I love, and my homemade products,” said Dionese. “I am ecstatic to have been given the great opportunity to demonstrate my vision and craft by participating in the Manhattan Experience.”
Classic Manhattan
2 oz Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select
3/4 oz Antica Formula
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Orange peel and Woodford Reserve Bourbon Cherries
Chill coupe and mixing glass. Stir all ingredients over ice and pour into the chilled coupe. Add Woodford Reserve Bourbon Cherries and squeeze an orange peel over the drink to release the oils.
The Lost Borough
1 oz Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
1 oz Hair of the Bulldog homemade beer-based vermouth
1/4 oz Gentian Liqueur
3 dashes citrus bitters
Kentucky fire cured cigar smoke
Chill coupe and mixing glass, then smoke the inside of the coupe with the Kentucky fire cured cigar smoke. While the coupe is absorbing the smoke, stir the rest of the ingredients over ice and pour into the smoked coupe. Add stout caramel coated cherry.