Sforzando

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Cocktail History

The Sforzando is a modern cocktail that was created in 2008 by Eryn Reece at Death & Company’s flagship location in New York City, New York. True to the bar’s style of altering classics, the recipe starts out using the Manhattan template of whiskey, vermouth, and bitters, but this version splits the rye base with mezcal and adds in the herbal French liqueur Bénédictine along with cacao, cinnamon, and spiced bitters.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Rye: This is a type of whiskey made with at least 51% rye grain, malted barley, corn, and water. We used Heaven Hill Distillery Rittenhouse Rye because it has a rich and clean taste with notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa, and citrus. For a mocktail version of this drink, try The Gospel Responsible Rye Non-Alcoholic Whiskey in place of the whiskey.

Mezcal: This is a spirit made in Mexico with agave, sugar, and alcohol that is aged in an underground pit lined with wood. We used Rayu Espadín Mezcal because it has light yet complex smoky taste with notes of tropical fruit. For a mocktail version of this drink, try MONDAY Zero Alcohol Mezcal in place of the mezcal.

Dry Vermouth: This is a fortified wine made with grapes, sugar, botanicals, herbs, sugar, and alcohol. We used Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry because it has a light and airy flavor profile with notes of Alpine herbs. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Apéritif Dry in place of the dry vermouth.

Bénédictine: This is a liqueur made in France with twenty-seven herbs and spices, sugar, and alcohol. For a mocktail version of this drink, try homemade black tea, honey, and thyme syrup in place of the Bénédictine liqueur.

Xocolatl Mole Bitters: This is a food product made with Mexican cacao, spices, botanicals, herbs, and alcohol. We used Bittermen’s Xocolatl Mole Bitters.

Orange Twist: This is the peel of an orange that has been twisted into a corkscrew shape.

Bartending Tools

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following bar tools:

Jigger: This is used to measure and pour ingredients. We used the Japanese jigger from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Mixing Glass: This is used to hold the ingredients while they’re being stirred. We used the Viski 17 oz Cocktail Mixing Glass.

Bar Spoon: This is used to stir ingredients. We used the Barfly Stainless Steel Teardrop Bar Spoon.

Julep Strainer: This is used to strain out ice and solid ingredients after the cocktail is stirred. We used the A Bar Above Julep Strainer.

Peeler: This is used to remove the garnish peel from the citrus. We used the OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Peeler Set.

Tasting Notes

The Sforzando has aromas of orange zest along with earthy mezcal and starts with a taste that features a slightly sweetened hit of mezcal backed up with a touch of rye spice, and it has an incredibly earthy finish that leaves grassy peat flavors in the mouth.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: This is another Manhattan riff that we both liked more than the original. Kendall appreciated it for its flavors, but she did find the drink to be a bit too strong and boozy in the end. Meanwhile, Alex found the balance between spice, smoke, and herbs to be impeccable.

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Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

Take Our Quiz →

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Death & Company does it again. This interesting riff on the Manhattan, using their practically patented method of switching out a few ingredients to make something brand new. In this recipe, mezcal stands in for some of the whiskey and Benedictine for some of the vermouth, which ultimately makes it check a lot of boxes for me. It’s a well-rounded, complex, earthy, and entirely palatable take on the classic, if yet still a little aggressive. As I’ve said time and time again, most drinks that riff on the Manhattan end up being better to me than the classic, and this one is no exception with its Mexican flair and herbal additives.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐
“This was the second Manhattan-style recipe we tried in one tasting, the other being the Tokyo Drift, and I think I liked that one better. The Sforzando actually made me shudder a little on the swallow because of how harsh and boozy it is. The mezcal is barely detectable, in my opinion, but still present enough. My palate’s just not developed enough to truly enjoy this type of cocktail yet. I’ll be sticking to my fruity mezcal drinks for a bit longer.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from Mezcal + Tequila Cocktails: Mixed Drinks for the Golden Age of Agave by Robert Simonson.

Sale
Mezcal and Tequila Cocktails: Mixed Drinks for the Golden Age of Agave [A Cocktail Recipe Book]
Mezcal and Tequila Cocktails: Mixed Drinks for the Golden Age of Agave [A Cocktail Recipe Book]
Hardcover Book; Simonson, Robert (Author); English (Publication Language); 176 Pages – 04/06/2021 (Publication Date) – Ten Speed Press (Publisher)
$13.26 Amazon Prime

AuthorMezcal + Tequila Cocktails

Yields1 ServingPrep Time5 mins

Ingredients
 1 oz Rye
 ¾ oz Mezcal
 ½ oz Dry Vermouth
 ½ oz Bénédictine
 2 dashes Xocolatl Mole Bitters
 1 Orange Twist

Method
1

Add rye, mezcal, Bénédictine, dry vermouth, bitters, and cubed ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a cocktail glass.

4

Garnish with orange twist.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 1 oz Rye
 ¾ oz Mezcal
 ½ oz Dry Vermouth
 ½ oz Bénédictine
 2 dashes Xocolatl Mole Bitters
 1 Orange Twist

Directions

Method
1

Add rye, mezcal, Bénédictine, dry vermouth, bitters, and cubed ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a cocktail glass.

4

Garnish with orange twist.

Sforzando

Make It a Mocktail: Use The Gospel Responsible Rye Non-Alcoholic Whiskey in place of the whiskey, MONDAY Zero Alcohol Mezcal in place of the mezcal, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Apéritif Dry in place of the dry vermouth, and homemade black tea, honey, and thyme syrup in place of the Bénédictine liqueur to try a booze-free version of this drink.

Shop Glassware & Tools

Find collections of cocktail glassware and bartending tools we recommend for your home bar in our Amazon shop.

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HISTORY COMPANY Newport “Social Season” Crystal Cocktail Coupe Glass 2-Piece Set (Gift Box Collection)
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OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Peeler Set - Swivel and Julienne
OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Peeler Set – Swivel and Julienne
Sharp, durable, Japanese stainless steel blades won’t rust; Straight Peeler all-purpose design for effortless prep
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More Rye Cocktails

If you like this rye-based cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Remember The Maine Cocktail Recipe

Remember The Maine: A rye cocktail made with sweet vermouth, cherry liqueur, absinthe, and a cherry

Mott & Mulberry Cocktail Recipe

Mott & Mulberry: A rye cocktail made with Luxardo Amaro Abano, apple cider, lemon juice, Demerara syrup, and apple slices

Midnight Stinger Cocktail Recipe

Midnight Stinger: A rye cocktail made with Fernet-Branca, lemon juice, simple syrup, and mint

Falling Leaves Cocktail Recipe

Falling Leaves: A rye cocktail made with Amaro Montenegro, toasted fig syrup, chocolate bitters, and an orange slice

This post contains affiliate links, meaning we make a small commission each time you purchase a product using our links. Product images sourced from Amazon Product Advertising API. Amazon affiliate links last updated on 2024-04-21.

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