Boulevardier Meets Manhattan In The ‘Night Train’ Cocktail

The Night Train at Slowly Shirley in Manhattan.
The Night Train at Slowly Shirley in Manhattan.
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Mixologists have created any number of riffs on whiskey classics—the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Boulevardier chief among them. But some modern-day whiskey cocktails can combine elements of all of these classics. The Night Train, created by Garrett Flanagan for Slowly Shirley in Manhattan’s West Village, is among their number.

“What’s fun about The Night Train is that it effortlessly straddles the line between two classic drinks,” says Jim Kearns, managing partner of Slowly Shirley and its upstairs companion bar, Happiest Hour. “Flavor-wise, it leans more toward a Boulevardier, but it drinks and feels more like a Manhattan.”

From a strong base of Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon, the drink builds with three bitter elements: Amaro CioCiaro, Cynar, and a small dash of Angostura Vallet.

“The Angostura Vallet is a very sharp-flavored bitters, made with Angostura bark and a lot of cinchona,” explains Kearns. “It has a strong, bright, bitter flavor profile that helps both cut through and tie together all of the dark ingredients and flavors in the recipe.”

It joins Cynar, with its own earthy bitterness but, says Kearns, “a light, almost vermouth-like weight and body”; and CioCiaro, “the sweetest, most viscous, darkest of the three bitter ingredients.”

“Together, they form a bright, slightly bitter counterpoint to the dark, chocolatey, leathery notes of the bourbon.”

Bold and bitter, this is a drink you’ll want as a nightcap — whether you’d usually opt for a Manhattan, a Boulevardier, or something else altogether.

The Night Train

For a bourbon, Kearns recommends Elijah Craig Small Batch, the rail bourbon at Slowly Shirley.

2 oz. bourbon
1 dash Angostura Vallet
½ oz. Cynar
½ oz. Amaro CioCiaro

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a Nick and Nora glass or similar. Garnish with an orange twist.

Carey Jones is a San Francisco-based food, spirits, and travel writer. She is the co-author, with her husband John D. McCarthy, of Be Your Own Bartender, to be released in November 2018. She frequently contributes to Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Saveur, and many others, and formerly served as managing editor at the James Beard Award-winning food site Serious Eats.