Manhattan Coffee Company: Honu’s Take on a Classic

Honu Kitchen & Cocktails GM Thomas Nocella adds bitters to the mix.

Making a Manhattan is bartending 101. But mixologists at Honu Kitchen & Cocktails in Huntington mean business with a stimulating new coffee-flavored spin on this classic New York cocktail they brewed up.

They call it Manhattan Coffee Company. The name is a nod to the original Manhattan, which calls for two parts bourbon to one part sweet vermouth and bitters garnished with a maraschino cherry for good measure. Manhattan Coffee Company’s recipe cuts down the vermouth to make room for the cordial — three-quarter part vermouth and one- quarter part cordial.

“The inspiration was just to just bring as many coffee aspects into the cocktail as I could with still keeping the flavors of a traditional Manhattan, keeping the bourbon as the main profile, and then just all the subtle nuances of coffee throughout,” says Thomas Nocella, general manager at Honu, a chic upscale New American hot spot situated on New York Avenue in the heart of downtown Huntington.

Served in a coupe cocktail glass, Manhattan Coffee Company is a sophisticated blend of Hudson Baby Bourbon, González Byass “La Copa” Vermouth, Koval Coffee Liqueur, espresso bitters and coffee dust.

“I try to not use the big companies,” Nocella says. “I just feel like they sell themselves, and if we could give one of the smaller guys an opportunity to get some exposure on a cocktail list, then if I put this bottle on my back bar, it might get ordered.”

The bourbon and bitters are sourced from New York. Spicing up the drink are a shaved orange peel to “bring out some citrus notes,” Nocella says. The coffee dust is made from ground Italian coffee beans. There’s also an Amarena cherry with an added twist in Honu’s Manhattan.

Honu’s Manhattan Coffee Company is an eye-opening new take on the classic cocktail.

“I’m taking those cherries out of the syrup that they come in, and then soaking them in iced coffee to bring coffee throughout the cherry,” he says.

Honu’s Manhattan ages in an oak barrel for at least two weeks. They take two bottles out from the barrel, and then refill the barrel with another two bottles, so there’s always aging going on. Technically, the bartender could serve a two-month aged Manhattan Coffee Company to a customer.

“It doesn’t get a crazy oaky flavor,” Nocella says. “I feel like it blends well, where it melts the flavors together.”

He’s been using the same barrel for more than two years now. Other Manhattan variations have also aged in the barrel, including ones with other base liquors: rum and tequila. Honu during the summer offered a clear Manhattan, which didn’t see any aging, so prior to Manhattan Coffee Company, Nocella dumped in some vanilla whiskey, black cherry whiskey, crème de cacao and port wine. He left the mix to age for three months.

Manhattan Coffee Company’s target customer is the traditionalist on the lookout for a cocktail with a twist, one subtle enough to boast authenticity.

“I would say if you’re not a traditional bourbon or Manhattan drinker, it’s most likely not for you,” Nocella says. “But if you’re a traditional Manhattan drinker, an old-fashioned drinker, [someone who likes] bourbon neat or bourbon on the rocks, it’s something I think would be very eye-opening.”

Honu Kitchen & Cocktails is located at 363 New York Ave. in Huntington. They can be reached at honukitchen.com or 631-421-6900.