The beautiful red bell is a delightful cocktail made at Manifesto, a modern day speakeasy in Kansas City, Missouri. I first experienced it in February, when I was in town to visit my friend Jordan and her husband. She had talked up Manifesto and her favorite drink, the beautiful red bell, over the weekend. Curiosity took over and I convinced the couple that we should cap off our already fantastic weekend with fancy cocktails.
We texted the owner for a reservation, as is custom, and ran through the cold winter air to an unmarked door in a back alley. A dapper bartender walked us downstairs into a candlelit saloon. We settled into a deep-backed, round booth, and examined their menu of bespoke cocktails. Jordan picked her favorite, and her husband and I ordered unusual whiskey based drinks. I watched the bartender as he deftly mixed liquors and shook them up with panache.
Since I detest gin and tonics, I was a little wary when Jordan handed me her gin-based drink to try, but I fell in love at first sip. The muddled bell peppers and basil temper the pine taste of gin. It’s strong but not overpowering, naturally slightly sweet, and refreshingly light. The former bartender in me vowed to recreate the eleven dollar drink at home.
As delightful as the red bell was in that cozy basement in February, I thought it would be more appropriate for summertime, when basil and bell peppers are in season. Finally, the time has come! The beautiful red bell was absolutely worth the wait.
While I’m not entirely sure this is exactly the same formula used at Manifesto, I can tell you it’s awfully close. I had so much fun making and photographing (and drinking!) this beautiful red bell that I’m considering a weekly summer cocktail series for the blog. I’ll feature refreshing drinks composed of basic liquors and little to no liqueurs, flavored with fresh seasonal produce. Happy hour, anyone?
- ⅓ of a medium red bell pepper, sliced into two-inch long strips
- 5 to 6 fresh basil leaves
- ½ lime, juiced
- 1½ ounces gin
- ½ to 1 teaspoons agave nectar or simple syrup
- In a cocktail shaker, combine red pepper, basil and lime juice. Muddle thoroughly, until the red pepper is thoroughly smashed. It shouldn’t have any crunch left to it.
- Add gin and lots of ice. Put on the lid and shake like crazy.
- Strain and pour into a chilled martini glass.
- Fall in love with the beautiful red bell.