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Master of the Manhattan winner Virginia King

Manhattan‘s Matt Capucilli (pictured below with Ted Allen of Chopped) reports from New York as the nationwide search for the best Manhattan cocktail comes to a close for 2014 at the The Manhattan Experience finale .

Woodford Reserve names Virginia King the Master of the Manhattan, a bartender from Miami, takes home the coveted title after competing amongst five bartender finalists showcasing their creative takes on the classic Manhattan cocktail that she named “Looking At Me Like You Don’t Want Me to Go” (recipe below).

Bartenders across the U.S. mixed up their original Manhattan cocktail recipes featuring Woodford Reserve during a series of events held last fall in 30 cities in partnership with Esquire magazine. The winners from each location advanced to a final round of judging by an expert panel who selected six bartenders to compete in the January 13 finale. The finalists represented Connecticut, Indiana, Miami, New Orleans, Savannah and Wisconsin.

During The Manhattan Experience finale event, which was emceed by Ted Allen, host of Food Network’s Chopped and Esquire contributing writer, the six bartenders showcased their winning recipes to a panel of experts. The judges included award-winning cocktail writer, historian and Esquire drinks correspondent David Wondrich; 2013 Master of the Manhattan Travis Fourmont; and Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris. Attendees also sampled and voted for their favorite recipe.

Matt Capucilli and Ted Allen Chopped

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Looking At Me Like You Don’t Want Me to Go Recipe

Woodford Manhattan

1 ½ oz. Woodford Reserve bourbon
½ oz. Benedictine
¾ oz. Carpano
1 dash Angostura bitters
2 dashes cherry bark vanilla bitters
1 infused “dirty” cherry, for garnish
1 lemon twist, for garnish


In a mixing glass, add all ingredients. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the infused cherry. Squeeze lemon twist over drink and discard.

King and her winning recipe featuring Woodford Reserve will appear in an upcoming issue of Esquire.


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