George, Jim and Hanny's and Maple Hook Manhattan at Hanny's

We're a little scared of absinthe, the high alcohol-by-volume spirit that tastes like black licorice, though it's certainly a fascinating drink, as one of our colleagues discovered years ago. Drinking it on its own can be pretty nasty, but several local spots -- including Hanny's in downtown Phoenix -- have incorporated the liquid into some of its mixed cocktails to make it more approachable.

One such beverage is the George, Jim and Hanny's, a short drink that's dominated by liquor. To off-set the alcoholic bite, the drink features a little bit of sweet agave syrup to balance out the flavors.

Hanny's is also known for its classically-inspired cocktails presented in smaller serving sizes with strong liquor. The Maple Hook Manhattan is a refined drink that mixes both whiskey and cherry liqueur, with a lemon bite from fresh juice. We checked out how to craft both these cocktails on a recent visit.

The bartender: Peter Baray, who's been at Hanny's since it opened in November 2008

George, Jim and Hanny's ingredients: 1/2 ounce St. George Absinthe, 2 ounces Jim Bean Rye, 1 ounce St. Germain, 1 ounce agave syrup, 2 dashes bitters

How to make it: