A Generous Drink

By Graham Pilotte

When looking for a way to give back to your community, cocktails may not be the first idea that comes to mind. However, Brown-Forman is changing the game this year with Meaningful Manhattan – a program that makes sure your next Woodford Reserve order will bring in money for the March of Dimes.

“The Meaningful Manhattan program is a way for us to give back to the community,” explains David Page, field marketing manager for Woodford Reserve. “It’s the first year in Kentucky, and we’ve partnered with the March of Dimes. We did this last year in Chicago and had great success.”

The concept is smart and simple. “The entire month of October, any restaurant that wants to participate can serve our Manhattan and $1 from each purchase will go to the March of Dimes,” Page explains. “We donate up to $5,000. It’s a good way for us to give back that’s based on what we do every day.”

Of course, Page recognizes that restaurants may want to put their own twist on the classic drink. “Restaurants can choose whatever Manhattan recipe they want to use, as long as they let us know and track the sales,” Page asserts. “We’re not putting them in any sort of confined basket because a lot of bartenders out there want to riff on classic cocktails.” However, a classic Manhattan involves bourbon, vermouth and bitters, served straight up or on the rocks and garnished with a cherry.

Page cites the March of Dimes Signature Chefs event as part of the reason for the Meaningful Manhattan fundraiser. This annual Louisville event fundraises by offering sample food from all over Louisville and gourmet cocktails, plus a unique auction of culinary packages.

“Culinary is a big platform for us,” Page explains. “We love the March of Dimes Signature Chefs. Woodford has 200 distinguishable flavors, and the different food items elevate different flavors.” Marzipan, black pepper, cedar and oak are just a few of the unusual notes cited on Woodford Reserve’s website. “I can only tell 199 of them,” he jokes.

However, the bourbon balances out perfectly, making it one of Louisville’s most beloved spirits. “If you look at its flavor wheel, it’s very balanced,” Page explains. “That doesn’t happen with every bourbon and every whiskey – they all have their own flavors, and that’s what makes up the character of that particular spirit.” The classic drink is perfect for a sampling event like Signature Chefs.

Of course, Louisville is the ultimate city for bourbon. “At Brown-Forman, we want to help make sure that we’re appropriately supporting our Louisville community,” he says. “And the March of Dimes is such an amazing organization.

“This is a combination effort between our community relations at Brown-Forman and the Woodford Reserve brand,” Page explains. “We wanted to maximize how we give back to the March of Dimes.” So as summer heat turns into crisp autumn weather, make sure to celebrate Louisville’s traditions and give back at the same time by making your October cocktail a meaningful Manhattan. VT