Monday 13 May 2019

Starward Red Manhattan, a modern Australian twist to an iconic whisky cocktail

We've written about the Starward exciting journey earlier this year with David Vitale's vision to make Starward the whisky of choice at every Australian's dinner table or at any occasion, just like wine or beer. This was one of the reasons why Starward released their first bottled cocktail, the Starward Old Fashioned twelve months ago. They had the vision to make it as easy as possible to liven up any occasion with bartender quality cocktails. The release was a success and resonated with many given the iconic stature of the Old Fashioned - a classic that has held its place as the perfect cocktail for over a century.

Building on the success of the first bottled cocktail release, Starward has now unveiled its second release of the bottled cocktail (series). The Starward Red Manhattan is a direct tribute to another iconic cocktail - the classic Manhattan cocktail. The creation of the second release is actually a result of a close partnership between Sacha La Forgia, Adelaide Hills Distiller and Sam Slaney, Starward’s Head Distiller. They have both spent quite a considerable amount of time since the start of the year trialling and experimenting with different recipes to re-create the Manhattan cocktail, albeit with an Australian twist.

The final recipe was very much a marriage of the original Starward whisky together with bespoke red wine vermouth and infused with native botanicals and Starward's own bitters. There is a red theme that permeates through this new creation – from the whisky maturing in red wine barrels to the red vermouth to the added cherry red garnish - and hence the "Red" Manhattan.

Sam Slaney, Starward’s Head Distiller, says, “It’s such an exciting time to be in the Australian craft spirits category – there is so much opportunity for creativity and to challenge tradition. Starward and Adelaide Hills Distillery are both innovative and award-winning local craft spirit producers that are passionate about creating distinctly Australian flavours. Starward whisky is uniquely matured in Australian red wine barrels and Adelaide Hills"

Adelaide Hills Distillery sources Australian native produce, from the roots, herbs, wormwood to the red wine from Adelaide Hills for its red vermouth. The Red Manhattan is very much a one-of-a-kind bottled cocktail that is bright, balanced and full of flavour.” Sacha La Forgia, Adelaide Hills Distillery founder, adds,

At Adelaide Hills Distillery, we produce small. Like a white wine, the recommendation is to store Red Manhattan chilled in the fridge. Serve as a 70ml pour in a coupe glass and garnished with a cherry or red grape."


With the inherent stability or instability of vermouth once exposed to air, Sam mentioned that once opened, the Red Manhattan should ideally be consumed within a month. Though mixed with the higher ABV of Starward Grain at 40% ABV - the vermouth is then stabilised.

We had the opportunity to compare both, a Red Manhattan that we skilfully created from scratch against the Starward Red Manhattan. For those at home, you can mix up your Starward-inspired Red Manhattan using:

  • 2 parts (~60ml) Starward Two Fold
  • 20ml vermouth
  • 2 Dashes Angostura bitters.
  • Garnish with a maraschino cherry

Comparing the two, the bottled Red Manhattan exhibited a lot more vermouth than the one I made. It could be that I mixed in a bit too much Two Fold into the mix though serve chilled - both are very delicious cocktails. Looking at the colour, you can simply guess which one was made by me and which one was poured from the Red Manhattan bottle.

Yes, the right cocktail was my amateur creation of the Red Manhattan.

The Starward Red Manhattan is now available from the Starward Website for $49. Serving the bottled cocktail simply required the bottle to be chilled and serve with either cherry or red grape.

With this second bottled cocktail release, David's vision is ever becoming a true reality to shape what and how we drink at the dinner table and for any occasion.


Thanks to Adrienne of Dialogue PR and Starward for having us at the launch event.

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