Little Italy

Little Italy.

This Manhattan variant was developed by Audrey Saunders in 2005 and uses Cynar as a substitute for the bitters.

60 ml Jack Daniel’s rye
30 ml Cynar
20 ml Moot vermouth

Preparation: Stirred, garnish with pickled cherries.

Alternatively and currently preferred by us:

60 ml Woodford Reserve Rye
20 ml Cynar
30 ml Antica Torino vermouth di Torino rosso

Little Italy was created by Audrey Saunders in 2005 at the Pegu Club in Manhattan. [1] [3] [4] It is a Manhattan variation, with Cynar taking the role of the bitters. [1] [5]

Some recipes also add some liquid from the preserved cherries used as garnish. [1] [6]

For Robert Hess, Little Italy is a modern classic. In autumn 2005, Audrey Saunders opened her Pegu Club. There she wanted to focus on drinks that were not vodka-based. The focus was also on American Rye, because back then, if you drank an American whiskey, you drank bourbon. Audrey had tasted a rye in England and was fascinated, and at the same time shocked, that there was this great American whiskey that nobody drank in America, and that you couldn’t even get there easily. Returning to America, she contacted the manufacturer and asked to get this Rye, it was Rittenhouse Rye, according to Robert Hess. She received a pallet of it and decided to use it to make cocktails that would show the potential of the rye. The Little Italy is one of those drinks. Robert Hess also reports that Audrey was one of the first to stop using “artificial”, bright red cocktail cherries as garnish, and instead used preserved ones of better quality, it is said to have been Luxardo’s Maraschino cherries. [5]

Audrey came up with the idea of using Cynar as a bitter in the Manhattan Cocktail at the New York restaurant ‘Raoul’s’. She reports: “We were drinking Manhattans right then, and I wondered what one would be like if I substituted Cynar for the Angostura bitters. Rittenhouse tied it together.[10-95]

'Little_Italy' auf der Mulberry Street.
‘Little_Italy’ auf der Mulberry Street. [7]

Since Audrey used both American and Italian ingredients for the Little Italy, and many Manhattan variants are named after a New York neighbourhood, she named her creation after a neighbourhood as well, appropriately Little Italy, [1] [2] bordering Soho to the east and about 300 metres from the Pegu Club there. Interestingly, the Manhattan Inn, where the Manhattan Cocktail probably originated, was also in Soho.

Manhattan, Little Italy, Mulberry Street um 1900.
Manhattan, Little Italy, Mulberry Street um 1900. [8]

Little Italy is a former Italian neighbourhood of New York. In the 19th century, around 40,000 southern Italians lived there in narrow tenements in 17 blocks around Mulberry Street. The houses were so close together that the lower floors hardly got any light. Since the beginning of the 20th century, New York’s ethnic neighbourhoods have gradually dissolved, so that today only about five percent of Little Italy’s residents are of Italian descent. [9]

  1. Brad Parsons: Amaro. The spirited world of bittersweet, herbal liqueurs. ISBN 978-1-60774-748-2. Berkeley, Ten Speed Press, 2016.
  2. Philip Grene: The Manhattan Cocktail. The Story of the First Modern Cocktail. ISBN 978-1-4549-1831-8. New York, Sterling Epicure, 2016.
  3. https://www.diffordsguide.com/cocktails/recipe/2819/little-italy: Little Italy.
  4. Robert Simonson: A proper drink. The untold story of how a band of bartenders saved the civilized drinking world. ISBN 978-1-60774-754-3. Berkley, Ten Speed Press, 2016. Page 162
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaF64zlT8jM: Little Italy Cocktail – A Modern Classic. Von Robert Hess, 31. March 2016.
  6. http://blog.vincekeenan.com/2013/10/cocktail-of-week-little-italy.html: Cocktail of the Week: The Little Italy. Von Vince Keenan, 4. October 2013.
  7. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colour-changing_%27Little_Italy%27_sign_on_Mulberry_St_(Blue).jpg: This sign is found on Mulberry St, near Broome St, Little Italy.
  8. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NYC_Mulberry_Street_3g04637u.jpg: Mulberry Street, New York City, ca. 1900.
  9. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Italy_(New_York_City): Little Italy (New York City).
  10. Robert Simonson: Modern Classic Cocktails. 60+ stories and recipes from the new golden age in drinks. ISBN 978-1-9848-5776-7. Ten Speed Press, 2022.
Little Italy.
Little Italy.


2016 Brad Thomas Parsons: Amaro. Seite 171. Little Italy. 2 ounces rye whiskey; 1/2 ounce Cynar; 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth; Garnish: 3 cocktail cherries.

2016 Philip Greene: The Manhattan Cocktail. Seite 195. Little Italy. 2 ounces Rittenhouse 100 proof rye; 3/4 ounce Martini sweet vermouth; 1/2 ounce Cynar; 2 Luxardo cherries for garnish.

2016 Robert Hess: Little Italy Cocktail – A Modern Classic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaF64zlT8jM. 2 oz. Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey; 1/2 oz. Cynar; 3/4 oz. sweet vermouth; Garnish with Luxardo maraschino cherries, along with a dash of their syrup.

2017 Gary Regan: The Joy of Mixology. Seite 235. Little Italy. 2 ounces Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond straight rye whiskey; 3/4 ounce Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth; 1/2 ounce Cynar; garnish: 3 maraschino cherries.

explicit capitulum


Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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