Saturday, January 11, 2020

A Special Guest Post: A New Holiday, or any-time-of-year, Cocktail: The Armenian Manhattan!

Ron’s ‘Armenian Manhattan’
My name is Ron, I’m the son-in-law of the authors of this blog. My other qualifications for receiving this special assignment include that I’m arguably Armenian – Armenian By Choice, the best kind of Armenian I’ve been told – and that I live in Manhattan. Well, Upper Manhattan, but close enough.

Mandy and I were visiting Doug and Robyn this past holiday season.
A few days before Christmas, my in-laws hosted a neighborhood gathering. Thanks to Robyn it was homemade Armenian Everything – lule kebab, lahmajoun, yalanchi, sarma gurgood, zucchini 'caviar' (See this recipe at the bottom of the page.), basturma, string cheese, boregs and kadaif, to name a few. There was even a priest from the nearby Armenian church in attendance.

When Doug invited me to bartend, I said Yes! But he mentioned a small challenge: An enthusiast of Manhattans (as in the cocktails) would be in attendance, so I needed to ask Google for a refresher on how to make one. Then I needed to make it Armenian, hence, The Armenian Manhattan.

Otherwise, the concept of Robyn’s Armenian Everything shindig would all fall apart at the bar.

Sitting atop Doug’s well-fortified, swing-open bar was a big bottle of Ararat brandy, “the legendary Armenian brandy since 1887”. I remembered some barkeeps use brandy as the secondary booze in a Manhattan, in lieu of sweet vermouth. Well, Merry Christmas!, the ‘Armenian twist’ problem was solved!

The Manhattan enthusiast – and others – lined up. I’m happy to report this libation (so popular it was made in larger batches) went down smoothly. Second rounds were served. Some guests even had thirds. Or was that just me?

Recipe for ‘The Armenian Manhattan’ by an 'A-B-C'

Serves: 4
Ingredients used for the Armenian Manhattan

1 Cup (8oz) Bourbon (Doug’s pick: Russell’s Reserve 10 Year)

½ Cup (4 oz) Brandy (Required: Ararat 3-Year - or make it fancy with an older vintage)

8 Dashes Bitters (Doug’s pick: Angostura)

12 Cherries - Boozy cherries (Doug’s pick: Stonewall Bourbon Bada Bing Cherries)

4 Teaspoons Cherry Juice - Use juice from the jar of Boozy cherries

12 Cubes of Ice -or- 4 single block cubes (My choice: regular cubes - or make it fancy with a single block cube)


Start by adding a cup of ice to a cocktail shaker. Slowly add the Bourbon, Brandy, Cherry Juice and dashes of Bitters.

Prepare 4 cocktail glasses (rocks glasses work nicely) by adding 3 regular cubes (or 1 single-block cube). 

Gently shake the mixture for 15 to 30 seconds.

Pour about 3 ounces (or 2 fingers) of the mixture into each glass. Garnish each glass by adding 3 Bourbon Cherries.

 Genatset! Կենա'ցդ!

Zucchini Caviar with celery sticks
Zucchini Caviar
Recipe adapted from


4 medium-sized zucchinis, peeled and shredded

2 medium carrots, shredded

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup canned, diced tomatoes, drained
2 Tbsp. tomato paste (or red pepper paste)
2 to 3 bay leaves
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper (or substitute 1 tsp. paprika and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. granulated sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place shredded zucchinis in a large, clean, kitchen towel. Roll up the towel and squeeze out the excess liquid.

In a large, heavy pot, heat olive oil on medium. Add strained zucchinis, onions and carrots; sauté for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add diced tomatoes, tomato (or red pepper) paste, garlic, bay leaves, sugar and salt and pepper, to taste.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixture should not be watery. If it is, continue to cook until almost all of the excess liquid is evaporated. 
Remove and discard bay leaves. 

Place mixture in a bowl and allow to cool slightly. Add the mixture into a blender or food processor. (You might have to do this in batches). Puree until a thick, creamy texture is achieved. 

To serve: Spread zucchini caviar on toasted baguettes, or, serve with your favorite crackers, chips, bread – such as pita or lavash - and/or vegetable sticks.

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