I first had the pleasure of meeting Joseph Akhavan a couple of years back when he was running the bar at the Philippe Starck-designed boutique hotel Mama Shelter, on the outskirts of the 19th arrondissment. He was making wonderful drinks then and he is making even better drinks now at his new digs, La Conserverie, down a side street in the rather uneventful 2nd arrondissement. It’s a wonderful space, industrial yet comfortable with a mash up of eclectic furniture spread over the two level space. “It looks like the café from Friends”, one of my companions says. Perhaps. It’s dimly lit and somewhat sexy and Joseph commands the bar at the back of the room like a true professional: graceful, fluid, smooth. He’s a pleasure to watch and while I begin with an elegant Martini of Tanqueray 10 infused with marjoram and stirred with Suze, it is his award winning Japanese-spiked libation that had me returning for a second. A third would not have been out of the question. A Rob Roy of sorts using Nikka Japanese whiskey, PX sherry, Carpano Antica vermouth and a duet of Peychaud’s and Abbot’s bitters, it was ethereal, brooding, complex and as smooth as a velvet cloth. A simple triumph of flavors that made perfect Winter sipping. If only they had a fireplace.
A few words from the man himself: “I called this drink 44°43′N/142°30′E (those are the latitude & longitude of the Island of Hokkaido, Japan where the Yoichi distillery is located), because Yoichi is one of the whiskies used for the blend of the Nikka From The Barrel, the base spirit. I created this think for the ”Nikka Perfect Serve Contest 2011″ which is a European competition gathering 12 bartenders from 12 different countries (UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Poland, Russia, Czech Republic & Monaco). In each of those 12 countries were organized internal selections, and the winner of each country went on the big finale which was held at the Park Hyatt Vendôme Hotel Bar, Paris last November. (He won for the record).
This is my twist on a Manhattan. I wanted to actually make a Manhattan that would fit the flavor profile and personality of Nikka From The Barrel, so my idea was to keep the smoky finish and add subtle notes that would complement the layers of flavors which you can find it this particular whisky, I found that the vanilla/oaky notes of the Antica Formula would help bring out the natural woodiness of the whisky and that the dried fruits/caramel notes of the PX would bring out the raisin & spicy notes. I found that the bitters worked very well together for this specific blend of flavors, and adding extra bitterness with the Bonal helped the drink having a longer finish. Eventually I found that the drink reflected what I had in mind so I went for it and I was lucky enough that the judges thought so too”.
50ml Nikka From The Barrel
15ml Carpano Antica Formula
7.5ml Pedro Ximenez Sherry (I use El Candado)
1 Dash Peychaud Bitters
3 Drops Bob’s Abbots Bitters
Stir and strain into a Coupe
Garnish with a maraschino cherry & spray with orange oils.