The Brewer's Art is known nationally as a top bar destination, scoring a nod from Esquire magazine in 2009 as the No. 1 bar in America.
And while those accolades may stem primarily from their highly successful brewhouse program and wildly delicious garlic and rosemary fries, the ol' Art has its own seasonally adjustable selection of cocktails to boot. What self-respecting top bar in America wouldn't?
The cocktail list consists of eight to 10 selections, all topping out at three to four ingredients each. Their take on the Manhattan, the True Grist, intrigued my palate. Conventional grist is grain that has been separated from the chaff and ready for grinding into flour. If you prefer the saying "All is grist for the mill," it would mean every ingredient in the True Grist is useful in its own way. Which may be the case, but it seems more likely it's just a clever play on words with regard to a film with a guy named Rooster Cogburn in it.
Regardless, the True Grist features a healthy pour of Ransom Whippersnapper whiskey shaken together with artisanal dry vermouth and Royal Rose organic lavender lemon syrup. Ransom Whippersnapper is a notable craft whiskey, distilled in two parts and aged briefly for a year on average. It's a decidedly light-tasting brown liquor with very little peat to its bite.
The True Grist is exceptionally smooth, thanks in part to the organic lavender lemon syrup, which isn't obnoxiously sweet but just sweet enough for one to experience the Whippersnapper's young whiskey flavor for a moment before tasting the sweet lemon goodness.
While a traditional Manhattan may not be considered, in a word, "refreshing," the True Grist manages to pack a whiskey-soaked punch while maintaining a sense of lightness. Bartender Barri Yanowitz summed it up pretty nicely by calling it "a refreshingly honest take on a Manhattan, a great way to turn a hard day into a good time."
How to make the True Grist
2 1/2 oz. Ransom Whippersnapper whiskey
3/4 oz. Royal Rose organic lavender lemon syrup
1/2 oz. artisanal dry vermouth
Combine all ingredients with ice in shaker, shake vigorously. Strain into chilled martini glass, garnish with lemon peel.
Where to get the True Grist
The Brewer's Art
1106 N. Charles St., Mount Vernon