Uncommon Aperitifs II – Cuban Manhattan

Last week I started my series about aperitifs and found an interesting one based on tequila. I want to continue my series about aperitifs based on something different than gin or whiskey, with taking a closer look at a very popular spirit: rum. Although rum is most often used in Tiki cocktails, it is a great and versatile ingredient.

A Refreshing Aperitif

The cocktail, I want to present to you this time, is from the same book by Charles Schumann I also found the Tequini in. One of the few rum cocktails that doesn't involve serious amounts of fruit juices. The idea seems simple: A Manhattan based on rum.


Cuban Manhattan

  • 30ml White Rum
  • 20ml Vermouth Dry
  • 20ml Vermouth Rosso
  • Dashes Angostura

Stir in a mixing glass on ice and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Recipe from Charles Schumann: American Bar


When making this cocktail I used Ron Mulata Anejoc Blanco as well as Dolin Dry Vermouth and Carpano Antica Formula. The cocktail was really tasty and a great aperitif. However, the vermouths dominated and the light rum flavors were lost completely. Not what I was looking for.

Because I like a Manhattan as well as all things rum, I wanted this cocktail to taste more like a proper Manhattan. The problem is that rum has a sweet flavor and if I were to just substitute the rye for rum then I would end up with an unbalanced drink, not fit for an aperitif.

Therefore I decided to keep the great idea of adding dry vermouth as this adds some much needed acidity and prevents the cocktail from becoming too sweet. Another thing I wanted to make different was the type of rum used in the cocktail. Instead of a light white rum, I'm going for a dark, aged rum that will provide a good body for my cocktail.


Perfect Cuban

Stir in a mixing glass on ice and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange zest.


The cocktail still tastes fresh, but with the distinctive flavor of aged rum. The orange zest lends this drink a fruity taste and works great with Angostura, bringing everything together. The dry vermouth prevents this aperitif from being overly sweet and provides some needed bitterness.

The Havana Club has an above average proof for rums (45% ABV / 90 Proof) and thus fits great into this Manhattan. It provides this drink with lots of oak and spices. A great substitute for rye indeed. You can use a bit more rum to bring the overall to 50ml and the cocktail will still be great, but taste a bit more of rum. I settled for 45ml because it's an easy to measure 1½ ounces.

¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

After tasting the Cuban Manhattan I was a bit surprised that I couldn't taste any rum. I wondered if I could make this work. I'm sure there are some other rums that will make an equally tasty cocktail, but this was the only aged Cuban rum I have on hand. If you don't want to stay with the Cuban theme, there are lots of great rums you can try.

I'm glad I found a great rum aperitif that is rather light but still full of flavor. If I want to continue this series I have to get creative with my base spirits, but let's see what I can come up with. Maybe something entirely based on vermouth, because you can't always serve strong liquor.

I hope you try this tasty cocktail and stay tuned for what I can dig up next. As always you can follow me on Twitter or subscribe to get the latest news. Also you can leave a comment and let me know what you think or share your recipes. Until next time.


Title image via pixabay.