Serious Manhattan

Mia Francesca's take on the classic aims to be richer and more flavorful.

Mia Francesca’s DiSotto Manhattan
  • Mia Francesca’s DiSotto Manhattan

Every so often in life, paperback utility ought to give over to leather-bound editions; the joy of a Swisher Sweet to the experience of a Romeo y Julieta; the usual Manhattan cocktail to nothing less than grandeur in a glass.

Kevin Haagenson

Kevin Haagenson

When it comes to serving the DiSotto Manhattan at Mia Francesca’s or Davanti Enoteca, that’s how Kevin Haagenson looks at it.

Davanti Enoteca

1655 India Street, Little Italy

Davanti Enoteca

12955 El Camino Real, Carmel Valley

Mia Francesca

12955 El Camino Real, Suite G-4, Del Mar

(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)

As manager of the Del Mar and Little Italy sister-sites of the Chicago-based Mia Francesca/DiSotto Enoteca entity, Haagenson lays down a challenge to aficionados of the whiskey-cum-vermouth-cum-bitters.

“The DiSotto takes the original Manhattan and soups it up with higher end, richer and more flavorful ingredients,” he says.

The build itself is part of the DiSotto’s splendor, Haagenson says, indulging eye and palate in equal parts.

“We drop a single large ice cube in the glass and layer the flavors,” he explains, “pouring the whiskey in first and the Amaro and vermouth at the same time. They sort of blend in together over the large ice cube.”

The addition of the Amaro (or Fernet) adds a distinction that makes all the difference, Haagenson adds.

“I think, with equal parts of each ingredient, one doesn’t really overpower the drink but they blend together for a rich, savory flavor.”

While making a muscular claim on the palate, Haagenson says, the DiSotto also gently breaks through the glass ceiling.

“We consider it a man’s drink with the whiskey front and center,” he says. “But the herbal liqueur and sweet vermouth soften it a bit. Still, it’s not going to be a light summer-like cocktail, such as the mint-cucumber martini we have. It’s a serous drink — and you’re going to be focused on it as you sip at it.”


  • 1 oz. Templeton Rye
  • 1 oz. Amaro Montenegro
  • 1 oz. Carpano Antiqua

Pour ingredients into a lowball glass over an ice cube two cubic inches in size, garnish with Luxardo gourmet maraschino cherries, stir briefly with bar spoon, add twist of orange, rubbing oils from peel around rim of glass, and…luxuriate.

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