the beverage cart

a dane in manhattan

October 30, 2012

Many, many years ago I lived in the country of Denmark–an indelible experience that shaped much of my ego orientation as it relates to culture and aesthetics.

One thing in particular that I learned from the Danes is how to drink without being (a) drunk. Or as they say in Denmark pissefuld. The Danes can manage to pull out iced shots of Akvavit before noon and make it seem perfectly normal. Beer for lunch at work? Why not. Interestingly, I don’t think I ever saw any wasted Danes. They just now how to drink properly.

Danish food is amazingly savory and, to me, the ultimate comfort food. Their palette is very accessible; however, when it comes to some of my favorite Danish spirits I’ve found most of my contemporaries overwhelmingly disapprove.

Gammel Dansk is one of my favorites. The literal translation is “Old Danish” and it’s a bitters liquor distilled with 29 herbs, spices and flowers. Unlike Jaegermeister, Gammel Dansk is not sweet or syrupy.

On the bottle it says “good for breakfast, after a days work, on a hunt, on a fishing trip or as an aperitif”. Kind of amazing and very Danish. Sadly, Gammel Dansk is hard to come by in the States. Fortuitously I was able to pick up a bottle at the duty-free shop in Reykjavik for $20. For such a price I kind of wish I had picked up two bottles.

I recently had my first blogger coup–I received a complementary bottle of Basil Hayden’s bourbon. Even if this hadn’t been sent to me, as a fan of bourbon, Basil Hayden’s is a sublime go-to for an evening of Manhattans.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve been looking for a mate for my Gammel Dansk. And then it hit me… A Dane in Manhattan! It’s so perfectly perfect.

If you can get your hands on a bottle of Gammel Dansk I highly recommend this Manhattan recipe.

Simply put:

  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 oz Basil Hayden’s bourbon
  • 1 oz Gammel Dansk

Gently shake, strain into martini glass. Garnish with a twist or a bourbon soaked cherry.

As I may have mentioned, my tastes are heavily influenced by the seasons… this struck as me a perfect Autumnal post leaf-raking refreshment.

As always, let me know what you think.


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  • Avatar
    Reply Shamik Chaudhuri October 31, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    This drink sounds delicious, but please, please don’t shake it. The drink is all liquor and does not need it. Stirring is preferred. Trust me the cocktail will be better for it.

  • Avatar
    Reply Bill February 17, 2015 at 12:44 am

    I realize this post was years ago, but I am here to give credit. I had an idea for this cocktail, then a web search returned your post. Now the challenge is to find Gammel Dansk. I’m due for an NYC trip, so maybe a shop there has it?

  • Avatar
    Reply Jesse February 4, 2019 at 2:47 am

    Lovely cocktail. I had never mixed my Gammel Dansk with anything before and I decided to look and see what was out there. Love bourbon, love bitters, match made in heaven. This is definitely going in my cocktail recipe book.

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