• Vince Larson

The Dubai (Mid-East Manhattan)

This past summer was HOT! On top of that, we recently moved to the high desert region of San Diego, which was about ten degrees hotter on average than the surrounding area. Working on our house in that unbearable heat got me thirsty for cooler drinks. Suddenly I found my imagination running along the lines of those exotic flavors from nomadic, desert dwelling people around the world. That desire, further fueled by the fun of a few experimental sessions, led to a wild new concoction I call “The Dubai.” Let me explain…

I began this journey by infusing gins with middle eastern spices and botanicals. The process is simple enough. You can add 2 Tbsp of Juniper Berries to a Mason Jar of decent Vodka, shake and let sit for around 24 hours. Then you simply remove the Juniper berries and infuse other delicious botanicals, like Lavender, Bay Leaves, Dried Citrus, etc. One of my favorite versions of this was my homemade Saffron Gin (I Love the Nolet's Version, but it is so cost-prohibitive). And while Saffron is arguably one of the most expensive ingredients in the world, a little goes a very long way, and the resulting flavor profile is worth it! Note: One small strand is good for an entire batch of Gin. I learned this the hard way and ended up using my first batch to make three!

Once I discovered this delicious spirit, I had to find ways to incorporate it into cocktails. I started simply enough, with Saffron-infused G&T’s, Martini’s & Tom Collins’s, but soon the creative nerd in me decided he wanted to come out and play. I pulled out my Flavor Bible, and began to look at good pairings for Saffron. Cardamom. Coffee. Chocolate. Citrus. But could those pair with the Gin? There was only one way to find out.

I had recently discovered that Cocchi Sweet Vermouth had a certain chocolate-like complexity to it, so I began trying to make a Saffron-Infused Gin Manhattan. I considered adding Coffee Bitters, but since I had been recently gifted a bottle of Mr. Black Cold Brew Liqueur, I added a Barspoon of that to the mix, followed by Cardamom Bitters & Chocolate Bitters. The result was good, but needed just a bit more of something. After toying around with it for a bit, 1 Dash of Ango Bitters brought the whole drink together beautifully. The result is a Manhattan unlike any I’ve had before. And since there is only one true town here in the West we call Manhattan, I asked myself “What is the Manhattan of the Middle East?”


Here is the final result.

Mid-East Manhattan (The Dubai)

1 oz Saffron Infused Gin

1 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth

1 Barspoon Mr. Black Coffee Liquor

1 Dash Cardamom Bitters

1 Dash Angostura Bitters

1 Dash Chocolate Bitters

Stirred & Served Up in Chilled Glass

Garnish: Lemon Twist

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