Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | May 26, 2010

Dan Searing’s Ghost Manhattan

I’ve had the pleasure of having drinks made by Room 11’s Dan Searing a couple of times in the last six months. First was his Atholl Brose at the 2nd Annual Repeal Day Ball, which inspired me to make my own. This classic Scottish combination of scotch, oats, honey and cream is like a DIY liqueur, easily prepared in advance and a delicious change of pace for people used to Egg Nog and Hot Buttered Rum around the holidays. More recently, I had Dan’s Gno Puc (aka Nut Punch), a Hendrick’s based punch featuring Dan’s own vin de noix, at the World Cocktail Week dinner at PS 7s. Another great drink, to be sure, and it is now on the menu at Room 11.

I made my long-awaited first trip to Room 11 last night. It was a beautiful night in DC and the bar’s large patio was pretty crowded. The inside space was empty, though, so we decamped to the bar for a few cocktails and a light dinner. I loved the aesthetic of the bar. Room 11 is on the corner and the bar itself is right at the entrance, filling the small space with a nicely curved, metal top. There is seating around the windows as well. I’d imagine that in the winter Room 11 gets pretty packed inside, but in the summer, with a large patio, the bar was quiet and friendly. It has a real neighborhood feel, including some new parents toting their infants in while they enjoy a cocktail and a snack.

I have to keep the post short, so I’m going to get right onto it. The food was phenomenal (Lori and I shared the risotto, a panini, and a flight of three cheeses). All of Dan’s cocktail were great, but one stood out as truly phenomenal to me. He’s working on a series of Manhattan variations using unaged whiskey. I had his Ghost Manhattan, which features Death’s Door White Whiskey.

Ghost Manhattan

3 parts Death’s Door White Whiskey
1 part Dolin Blanc
Angostura Orange Bitters

Build in an ice-filled mixing glass, stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a white grape

The white whiskey and Dolin Blanc work incredibly well together. The Dolin is very floral, with a great citrus profile. It adds a nice, sweet balance to the whiskey. But the Death’s Door White Whiskey has a great floral profile on its own. The result is a contemporary twist on a Manhattan that is light and refreshing in a way the traditional version rarely achieves. The grape garnish is great too – I’d worry that if it had a twist, it would be mistaken for a Martini.

Though I did not try it last night, Dan says he’s also making a Silver Manhattan. This is the same ratio as the Ghost Manhattan, but uses High West Silver Whiskey, which is a white whiskey made with 85% oat and 15% barley malt.

White or unaged whiskey’s are definitely a big, new thing for micro-distilleries. Finding ways to use them in cocktails is going to be a new front for cocktailian bartenders. It’s clear to me that Dan is on to something great with his white whiskey-based Manhattans.



  1. […] dry (white) vermouth, and orange bitters. Matt Hamlin wrote up an example of this recently (“Ghost Manhattan“), and reports that he was favorably impressed. He also says he could have confused it with a […]

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