What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Manhattan? If the answer is going to the closest bar and ordering one, you are definitely in the right blog. And if not, we invite you to join us on this trip through the history of the Manhattan cocktail anyway. We are sure you will end up wanting to order one as well.
Something that is commonly agreed on is that the Manhattan was born by the 1880s, and according to Gary Regan in his article “Behind the Drink: Manhattan” it was probably one of the first cocktails to call for vermouth as a modifier. Yes, our beloved vermouth and its romance with the cocktail world share its origins with those of the Manhattan. Love at first sight (or taste). But the real story of how this cocktail came to life finds more disagreement, although some theories seem more reliable than others.
So, when was the Manhattan first created then? The more likely to be true version of the events comes from the story written by William F. Mulhall. William was a bartender who worked at the Hoffman House at New York for over 30 years. In the story he wrote in the 1880s, he mentions, “The Manhattan cocktail was invented by a man named Black, who kept a place ten doors below Houston Street on Broadway in the 1860s”.And according to his story, it was “probably the most famous drink in the world in its time”. This story, although being more plausible compared to the first, is also considered skeptical by some people. But if you ask us, we would definitely support William’s story. We trust bartenders, no matter what.
One theory claims that the Manhattan was created in 1874 at the Manhattan Club in New York. The legend tells that the cocktail was a special creation for Jennie Jerome, also known as Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston Churchill’s mother) who was throwing a party that day. The story could sound plausible, if it wasn’t that Lady Randolph was actually in England by that time, about to give birth to the future Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Not the best time to party in New York, don’t you think?
We now know more about the story (or stories) regarding the origins of the Manhattan. We leave on you the judgment and decision of which of them you want to take as true. But, how do you prepare one? Let’s follow the recipe and instructions provided also by Gary Regan in his article “Behind the Drink: Manhattan”
- 90 ml Bourbon or American whiskey
- 45 ml Sweet vermouth
- 6 dashes Angostura bitter
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass over ice. Stir briefly until it mixes and becomes cold. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a Maraschino cherry. For a perfect serve, keep your cocktail glass into the freezer or filled with ice before serving, so it is cold. Don’t forget to remove the ice from the glass before serving your Manhattan.
Finally, these are the 3 things to keep in mind about the Manhattan for its enthusiasts and also for those starting in the amazing world of cocktails:
- Manhattan is a cocktail composed of American whiskey and sweet vermouth, and its origins are still unclear with two different theories claiming to be true.
- Regardless of which of the stories is actually true, the Manhattan was created in New York and dates back to the 19th century.
- Manhattan could be one of the first (if not the first) cocktail combining vermouth and using it to create a superb drink which is still enjoyed nowadays.
Are you thirsty yet? If the answer is yes, go out, find a nice bar and order a Manhattan. You won’t regret it. And don’t forget to trust your bartender; he is the one making sure you drink well.
My name is Jorge Ferrer, I am a spirits and cocktails lover and a vermouth enthusiast. I earned my MsC in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at ESADE Business School and at the moment I hold a Junior Brand Manager position in Brown-Forman. I am planning to market my own vermouth, feel free to reach out or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/jorgeferrer191/ or @jorge_chinaski