King of the Cocktails Dispute
The Manhattan cocktail is a drink that competes head to head with the Martini for the title of king of the cocktails. A true martini ( not the pretend to add some vermouth but give it to me straight-tini ) generally dominates, but the Manhattan contends as a close second if not the victor to some and will probably never be knocked off the list of the top 10 most popular cocktails. Definitely a required drink recipe for home bar owners.
History of the Manhattan Drink
“The origin of the Manhattan is almost undisputed. There are two widely held versions of its creation, both tied to New York’s Manhattan Club. The earliest tale of this drink’s nativity dates back to William J. Tilden’s election as New York’s governor in 1874. Winston Churchill’s American mother hosted the victory celebration, and a forgotten bartender invented the Manhattan there, naming the drink after the club.
The other story credits Supreme Court judge Charles Henry Truax with instigating the drink’s invention several years later. According to The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, Mr. Truax asked a Manhattan Club bartender to mix him up a new drink, his doctor having instructed him to lay off the Martinis to lose weight.” ~ Cocktail: Drinks Bible for 21st Century
Wait, there’s one more twist ( see almost undisputed above ):
“There are a few theories surrounding the birth of the Manhattan … but the one that has a ring of truth to it, to my ears at least, can be found in ‘Valentine’s Manual of New York.’ The 1923 book contains a story written by a certain William F. Mulhall, a bartender who plied his trade at New York’s Hoffman House in the 1880s. ‘The Manhattan cocktail was invented by a man named Black who kept a place 10 doors below Houston Street on Broadway in the (eighteen) sixties - probably the most famous drink in the world in its time,’ wrote Mulhall. I know of no other citation that carries as much weight, and it was written by a bartender, so …” ~ SF Gate
So, there you have it. The Manhattan is potentially a cocktail rooted in politics and was either named after the club or the island by one of three different bartenders. Let’s drink to that!
How To Make A Classic Manhattan Cocktail
Manhattan Recipe Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 oz rye whiskey
- 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
- 1 dash aromatic bitters
- 1 stemmed cherry
Combine with ice in mixing glass or tin and stir. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.
Rye whiskey is considered the classic for the cocktail. However, bourbon has ebbed and flowed in popularity as the base spirit due to both availability and preferences.
Note that bourbon makes the Manhattan a much sweeter drink than when mixing with rye whiskey. Another popular recipe option is using a Canadian blended whiskey which contains some rye and splits the difference in terms of sweetness.
For a dry Manhattan, mix the drink with dry vermouth instead of sweet, and for a perfect Manhattan cocktail at home use equal amounts of both dry and sweet vermouth behind the bar.