Introduction: Manhattan and Old Fashioned Cocktail Ice Cream

About: I'm a physics grad student at the University of Michigan. I study self assembly in soft matter systems. When I'm not doing physics, I can be found volunteering at Common Cycle, a local bicycle non-profit, or a…

My girlfriend and I were hosting a Mad Men season 5 premiere party and I wanted to come up with a dessert appropriate for the occasion. I was recently given an ice cream maker and have been experimenting with it for the past few months - I thought I'd try to make an ice cream to fit the theme. You can't make adultery into ice cream, and Lucky Strike ice cream didn't seem like a good idea. I settled on Don Draper's favorite cocktails: The Manhattan and the Old Fashioned!

This guide details how I converted these cocktails into ice cream flavors, preserving cherries and candying orange peel along the way. If you're in the unfortunate position of not knowing what makes up these two classic whisky cocktails my recipes are as follows:

4 parts (~2oz) Rye (Bulleit Rye is my favorite)
1 part sweet vermouth (e.g.,martini, Dubonnet)
2-3 Dashes cocktail bitters (I like Fee Bros)
Stirred with ice, served with a (homemade maraschino or brandied) cherry in a chilled glass

Old Fashioned
1 sugar cube
2-3 dashes of bitters (Fee)
1 in sq orange peel
1 cherry
3 oz Rye or Burboun
Wet sugar with bitters, muddle with cherry and orange peel in the bottom of an low-ball glass. Add 2 or three ice cubes (cracked with the back of a spoon) to the glass, pour in the whisky and stir.

Have one of each, and continue reading. 

My approach was to start with a whisky ice cream base and work in the remaining cocktail ingredients as swirls and mix-in's. I made homemade brandied cherries , homemade maraschino cherries, candied orange peel, and a sweet vermouth ripple. 

Step 1: Make the Cherries

Making the cherries is the easiest step. If you prefer a warmer, spicier cocktail I suggest making Maraschino cherries; if like a fruitier drink, brandied cherries are the way to go. Do not substitute maraschino cherries from a jar.

If possible use fresh, pitted and stemmed sour cherries. If not, look for some frozen ones (e.g., You can also use sour cherries in light syrup, but soak them in warm water for ~ 30 mins first, then drain before using.

These recipes work just as well for a pint of cherries as they do for a quart - I recommend making a bunch because you'll be sad when you run out. ~12oz of cherries will fill a pint mason jar.

Maraschino Cherries:
12 oz sour cherries pitted and stemmed
4-6oz Maraschino Liquer

Put the cherries in a pint jar. Cover with liquer. Refrigerate for 2-3 days.

Brandied Cherries:
12 oz sour cherries, pitted and stemmed
1/4 c water
1/4 sugar
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1/2c brandy

Bring the water and sugar to a low simmer in a small saucepan. Once all sugar is dissolved, add the cinnamon stick and brandy to the pot off the heat. Place cherries in a pint jar. Cover cherries with brandy mixture. Refrigerate for at least 1 day.

Both recipes will keep for months in the refrigerator. They are great in ice cream, in cocktails or in baked goods.

Step 2: Candy the Orange Peel

Candied orange peel will replace the muddled orange peel and sugar cube in the Old Fashioned. This will make enough candied orange peel for 1-1.5 quarts of Old Fashioned ice cream.

Candied Orange Peel
2 oranges
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 water
1 tsp light corn syrup
1 tsp orange bitters, optional (e.g. Fee Bros.)

Peel the oranges with a vegetable peeler, and cut the peel into 1/2 cm wide strips. Place in a sauce pan and cover by a few inches with water. Bring to a boil then simmer on low for 5-10 minutes. Poaching the peel makes it soft and tasty to eat.

Drain the peels. Place the 1/4 water, sugar and corn syrup into the pan. Once the sugar has dissolved, add in the orange peel. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to very low. Simmer until a thermometer reads 230F, about 15 minutes.

Add the bitters and remove from heat and transfer to jar or heatproof bowl. This supposedly keeps for months refrigerated, but I cannot speak to that from personal experience.

Step 3: Make the Vermouth Ripple

Rather than mix in the vermouth to the ice cream custard, I use it as a base for a ripple. I also put a few dashes of bitters in at this point to complete the cocktail ingredients list and to spice it up. The Fee Bros bitters I used are very warm and cinnamon-y, so I thought brown sugar was appropriate for the syrup.

Vermouth Ripple
2.5 oz sweet vermouth
2oz Brown sugar
1/2oz (1/2 T) Corn Syrup
2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp bitters

Combine the vermouth, brown sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir gently until the sugar dissolves. Lower the heat and continue to cooks until bubbles start to foam as pictured (~220F). Add the corn starch, whisk until smooth and stir in the bitters. Refrigerate.

Step 4: Make the Whisky Custard

I based this ice cream recipe off the french custard recipe from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebowitz This book is awesome and I fully recommend it.

I used the same base for both ice creams, so I made a double batch of the custard recipe below. I've found that using good quality cream make a big difference in the quality of the ice cream - if you're near a dairy that you can get some very heavy cream from, do it!

Whisky Ice Cream
2C Cream
1C Whole milk
1C Cream
2C Half & Half

6 Egg yolks
3/4C granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3oz (2 shots)  Whisky (Bourbon or Rye, like Bulliet or Buffalo Trace)

Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a medium heat proof bowl or large liquid measuring cup. Place the sugar, 2C Half and Half (or 1C cream and 1C milk), sugar, and salt in a small sauce pan. Turn the burn on med-low. Stir and keep on heat until the mixture is warm (at least 160F).

Temper the egg yolks by scooping ~1/4 cup of the warm cream mixture at a time into the eggs, whisking it as you pour. If you rush or skip this step, the eggs will curdle. Once you have added ~1C of the cream mixture, return everything to the burner and continue to cook on med, stirring frequently.

Cook until the mixture thickens (coats the back of a sppon, about 180F). Pour the remaining cream and the whisky into a 2-3 quart tupperware. Pour the warm mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the tupperware. Stir until well mixed. Top with a piece of saran wrap placed directly on the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 6 hrs.

Churn the whisky ice cream according to your ice cream maker's instructions. It took ~ 15 mins/batch in my Kitchen Aid.

All of the toppings, etc go in after the ice cream has been churned.

Step 5: Add the Other Ingredients

Mix these ingredients in as soon as the ice cream is churned.

Manhattan Ice Cream
1/2 C maraschino cherries, drained
1 recipe's worth of Verthmouth ripple

Add the cherries and mix thoroughly. Then drizzle the ripple and fold gently. Freeze for at least 6 hrs before serving.

Old Fashioned Ice Cream
2/3 C Brandied Cherries
1/2 Candied Orange peel
2 tsp cocktaiil bitters (Fee bros cocktail)

Chop the orange peel and cherries finely (~ 1/2 cm pieces). Add the bitters, orange peel and cherries. Stir until evenly distributed, Freeze for at least 6 hrs before serving.

Placing a piece of saran wrap on top of the frozen custard will prevent ice crystals from forming at the surface as it frieezes.

Don't be alarmed if the cream is very soft after churning. The alcohol makes it delicious, but also lowering the freezing temp quite a bit. Even if it looks liquidy, after a few hours in the freezer, it will be just what you'd expect. In fact, I frequently add a little alcohol to my ice creams because I like how it softens them a little at freezer temps.

Step 6: Party Like It's 1963

Our spread included a chocolate bundt cake, cocktail weenies, deviled eggs, fruit salad and all sorts of cocktails! Enjoy!

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