It appears -- for now, at least -- that bacon hasn't entirely jumped the shark. The winning entry in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience at the Houston Museum of Natural Science featured a Manhattan augmented with maple syrup and candied bacon, a concoction devised by Derek Black, bartender at The Rockwood Room.
The smokiness of the candied bacon bits that rimmed the martini glass subtly augmented the woodsy flavor of the bacon-infused Woodford Reserve bourbon, with a sweet finish from the similarly woodsy maple syrup (used in place of sweet vermouth), making for an almost irresistable cocktail from top to bottom.
Other entries in the event were equally impressive, with an emphasis on creatively enhancing the classic Manhattan recipe of bourbon, bitters and sweet vermouth. Dimitra Kriticos of Olympia at Pier 21 (the popular Kriticos family's second restaurant in Galveston) created a baklava-inspired Manhattan that featured cinnamon and nutmeg in a powdered sugar-rimmed glass with a glistening bite of baklava on the side. Joe Le from Aca Sushi created a Japanese-themed Manhattan with green tea liqueur. And our personal favorite Manhattan, in which a whole vanilla bean was reduced in Grand Marnier and infused into the cocktail, was created by Michael Raymond of Reserve 101.