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  • The Rusty Bartender

Sipping Through Time : The Little Italy Cocktail's Tale and Irresistable Recipe

Updated: 2 days ago

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In the realm of mixology, where every cocktail tells a story, The Little Italy stands out as a tribute to both tradition and innovation. This classic libation is a nod to the iconic Manhattan cocktail, but with a twist that transports you to the vibrant streets of its namesake neighborhood. Join us as we uncover the history and share a recipe that captures the spirit of The Little Italy cocktail.

The History:

The Little Italy cocktail emerged as part of the modern cocktail renaissance, an era where bartenders sought to reimagine classic drinks and infuse them with contemporary flair. Although the specific origin of The Little Italy is not as well-documented as some other cocktails, it is often credited to Sam Ross, a skilled mixologist known for his contributions to the craft cocktail scene.

Ross, who worked at the famed Milk & Honey bar in New York City, is recognized for his innovative approach to mixing drinks. The Little Italy is believed to have been created as a variation of the Manhattan, replacing the traditional sweet vermouth with Cynar, an artichoke-based bitter liqueur. This inspired twist adds a layer of complexity to the cocktail, making it a unique and intriguing sipper.

The Recipe:

To experience the charm of The Little Italy at home, follow this simple yet captivating recipe:


  • 2 oz Rye whiskey

  • 3/4 oz Cynar

  • 1/2 oz Sweet vermouth

  • Orange twist (for garnish)


  1. In a mixing glass, combine the rye whiskey, Cynar, and sweet vermouth.

  2. Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir the ingredients for about 30 seconds. Stirring allows the flavors to meld without overly diluting the cocktail.

  3. Strain the mixture into a chilled rocks glass over a large ice cube.

  4. Express the oils from an orange twist over the drink by giving it a twist, then drop the twist into the glass as a garnish.

  5. Optionally, you can add a Luxardo cherry or three, for an extra touch of sweetness.

The Little Italy cocktail invites you to savor the bold and robust character of rye whiskey, complemented by the herbal and slightly bitter notes of Cynar. The sweet vermouth adds a classic touch, and the orange twist garnish provides a citrusy aroma that enhances the overall drinking experience

As you raise your glass to The Little Italy cocktail, you're not just sipping on a drink; you're immersing yourself in the ingenuity of modern mixology. This cocktail pays homage to the classic Manhattan while adding a contemporary twist that makes it a standout on any cocktail menu. So, gather your ingredients, embrace the history, and transport yourself to the lively streets of Little Italy with each delightful sip.


Watch me make it here.

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