Richmond, VA-based restaurant Lemaire has added a do-it-yourself element to classic cocktails with its “Create Your Own Manhattan” offering. Launched this past October, the menu includes a selection of eight whiskeys, seven vermouths or amaros and seven bitters to choose from.
The ingredients are listed with tasting notes to help guests build the perfect Manhattan to fit varying palates. Wine director Greg McGehee will also offer suggestions, such as combining Sazerac 18-year-old rye with Carpano Antica and Angostura bitters, or Buffalo Trace Bourbon with Punt e Mes and Bittermens Burlesque bitters.
Prior to providing the list of hand-chosen whiskeys, bitters and vermouths, “we noticed that our patrons were already making their own Manhattans with our list of standard Manhattan ingredients,” McGehee says. “We thought that we could expose our customer base to new and unique Manhattan ingredients while providing a sense of creativity among our patrons.”
The custom Manhattans, which are priced from $12 to $20 depending on the whiskey, have been a hit for Lemaire. Guests tend to be proud of their Manhattans and they will go out of their way to tell other patrons about their creations, McGehee says.
What’s more, he notes, “people are willing to pay a little more when they get to create their own cocktail from the menu.” Manhattan sales have increased 15% since Lemaire began the promotion, he says.