The lemon dominates the flavor but there's enough of the calva for an appreciated apple hint. One could probably do without the sugared rim but I thought the extra sugar was nice. Our coupe glasses were a nice size for the sugaring and there was plenty left over for a second round. Six ingredients is a lot (the lemon counts as one, a welcome multi-tasker), especially with something less shelf-stable like sparkling wine. But overall, the pomme royale is a pleasant beverage and worthy of the effort.
Bitters Battles: Angostura vs. Orange
At long last, we come to the battle which I have expected would make the biggest difference in a Manhattan: the bitters. It is because of our preferred house cocktail that I grew to love Angostura bitters in the first place, its herbal curves pairing so elegantly with the sharp rye. In truth, I have a hard time imagining the drink without Angostura. However, the rules - in as far as there are rules for cocktails - allow for a substitution of either orange or Peychaud's bitters. So, it's at least worth trying.
In a head-to-head battle, we both chose the Angostura. It is, quite simply, a stronger flavor and I want my bitters to have a voice. The orange aroma was a welcome benefit of the challenger and, for another drinker, the relatively unobtrusive flavor could be seen as an advantage. But for us, it's a clear decision.