Manhattan cocktail

01 Jun The Manhattan

There is speculation and debate over whether the Manhattan Club in New York City is the true location of the Manhattan cocktail’s origin. Whether it is or isn’t, the conflicting story of its 1870’s birth is one worth telling. According to the Manhattan Club’s self-proclaimed history, the Manhattan drink recipe was created by a doctor for a party thrown in honor of Jennie Jerome, aka Lady Randolph Junior (Winston Churchill’s mother). Aside from there being no record of this party, the other probable falsehood of the story is the fact that Lady Randolph Churchill was actually in England about to give birth to Winston at the time the party supposedly took place. Another believable lead on the drink’s creation comes from a story written by William F. Mulhall, a bartender at Hoffman House for more than 30 years.  Mulhall says the drink was created by a man, so mysteriously named “Black,” who kept a place ten doors below Houston Street on Broadway in the 1860’s. Others say the drink was simply created as a homage to New York’s densely populated borough. But no matter who mixed it first, it remains the quintessential cocktail associated with a city.

Now, for the recipe. The Manhattan, depending where you go, is always open to interpretation. The classic recipe, however, stands.

Classic Recipe:

  • ¾ oz.rye whisky
  • 1 ½ oz. Sweet redvermouth
  • Dashof Angostura bitters

Stir gently over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with Maraschino cherry. To sophisticate this classic cocktail even further, try adding a Fabbri amarena cherry which is preserved in syrup and can add an extra sweet taste and look.


The following are several other variations of the cocktail:

  • Rob Roy is made with Scotch whisky.
  • Dry Manhattan is made with dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth and served with a citrus twist.
  • Perfect Manhattan is made with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.
  • Brandy Manhattan is made with Brandy instead of whiskey and is very popular in Wisconsin and
  • Metropolitan is similar to a brandy Manhattan, but with a 3-to-1 ratio of brandy to
  • Cuban Manhattan is a Perfect Manhattan with dark rum as its principal ingredient.
  • Tijuana Manhattan is made with an Anejo Tequila.
  • The Fourth Regiment is a classic (ca. 1889) cocktail that uses a 1/1 ratio of whiskey and vermouth, and uses three dashes of three different bitters – orange bitters, celery bitters, and Peychaud’s Bitters.
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