Will Foster

Bartenders are flipping classics like martinis and Manhattans on their heads.

Carey Jones
August 30, 2017

Few drinks compare to a properly made Manhattan or martini. But they have an obvious, if debatable, downside: the alcohol.

Of course, just about every cocktail drinker is after a little buzz; bar-goers aren’t exactly sitting around drinking fruit juice. But some of the classics are nothing but booze.

So for a change of pace, some bartenders play around with the classics, keeping the ingredients but flipping the formula: say, two parts sweet vermouth to one part rye, rather than the opposite. Call it a Reverse Manhattan, lighter and significantly less boozy, but just as delicious as the original. Here are five reverse cocktails to try out for yourselves.

Inside Out

This drink from Natasha David of NYC’s Nitecap plays on the Manhattan formula, dramatically upping the sweet vermouth. Minty Branca Menta and a dash of absinthe add a little intrigue.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 ounces Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce Templeton Rye
  • 1 teaspoon Branca Menta
  • 1 dash Absinthe

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with an orange twist.

Reverse Martini

Max Green of New York’s Amor y Amargo takes the classic gin-vermouth combination and flips it around. “Cutting down on the full-proof spirit and upping the vermouth lends itself to a full night of drinking,” he says. A much more “sessionable” drink; that’s bartender-speak for “drink you can have a bunch of in a row.”

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • 1 ounce Plymouth Gin
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a lemon twist.

Reverse Monarch

The Bennett

This creation from Meaghan Dorman of The Bennett inverts the proportions of a classic martini, while adding an unexpected element—a cucumber shrub—which helps to keep the drink bright and dynamic.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces La Quintinye Vermouth Royal
  • 1 ounce Plymouth gin
  • 1/4 ounce cucumber shrub

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a cucumber wheel.

To make cucumber shrub: Chop one whole cucumber into two-inch pieces. Add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup white wine vinegar, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend on low speed until fully pureed, then store 24 hours in fridge. Strain out cucumber before using.

First Day

Robby Nelson, brand ambassador for Plymouth Gin, did indeed have this drink on his first day on the job. “It's a riff on the classic Tuxedo”—with gin and fino sherry—“something that might be more appropriate to wear, or enjoy, on your first day of work.” Lillet, vermouth, and sherry all conspire to keep this cocktail light and drinkable.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Plymouth Gin
  • 3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 3/4 ounce Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce Fino Sherry
  • 2 dashes Pernod Absinthe

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a lemon twist.

Reverse Last Word

A Last Word is traditionally made from equal parts of gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime. Robert Pate, founder and general manager of Péché in Austin, swaps gin for Cognac and pulls way back on boozy Chartreuse, while upping the cherry element by using an additional cherry liqueur. “Cherry is the star, and Cognac, the backbone. The Chartreuse will always come through because it’s such a brute force.”

Ingredients

  • 3/4 ounce Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac
  • 3/4 ounce Luxardo Maraschino
  • 3/4 ounce Luxardo Sangue Morlacco
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice

Instructions

Shake all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe lined with green Chartreuse. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.