Southeast Asia meets the Northeast United States. Mekhong is a liquor from Thailand, a country that I've had the privilege of visiting (sawadeekhap means "hello" in Thai). Thais refer to Mekhong as a "whiskey" because of its brown color, but it's actually an infused rum. You can get Mekhong online and in some liquor stores. Thanks to what used to be the Four Seasons Hotel in Bangkok for introducing me to this wonderful variation on a classic Manhattan.
2.5 ounces Mekhong
1 ounce sweet vermouth (I love Carpano Antica)
1 dash Bangkok Betty bitters from Bitter Queens or 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the dynamic grace of the Thai people, and strain into a chilled glass.
I discovered Bitter Queens at last year's Tales of the Cocktail conference. The people are delightful and the products are top notch. If you get the Bangkok Betty bitters, use them sparingly, as they are quite potent. If you can't get them, Angostura bitters work well in a Mekhong Manhattan. Make sure you try Mekhong on its own. I'm still convinced that I'm the only foreigner who's ever ordered it neat in a particular upscale Bangkok bar. I learned Thais have a lot of respect for someone who speaks a little bit of the language, knows what Mekhong is, and is willing to drink it.
Can't get your hands on Mekhong? Use dark rum instead. Want to try other variations on a Manhattan? Check out the Good Morning Manhattan or the Maple Manhattan. Whatever you do, the resulting cocktail will be aroy mahk (delicious)!