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There’s a lot of controversy on the real origins of the famous cocktail that we call the Manhattan. Some believe that a bartender by the name of black invented the cocktail as early as the 1860’s on Broadway near Houston Street. The drink itself did not become popular until the 1870’s when Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston Churchill’s Mother) threw presidential candidate Samuel Tilden a banquet to show her support. We can rule out Lady Churchill as the creatory because she was not present during this banquet. She was actually in France carrying child.
During this banquet it is believe that a guest, Dr. Lain Marshall, enthusiastically suggested the combination of mixing whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters to make a drink. this drink spread like wild fire during the banquet and was soon requested by many. Since this cocktail did not have a name people starting calling it “The Manhattan” after the place it was invented. Growing with such a loyal fan base this amazing cocktail became one of America’s most popular drinks influencing the nation’s opinion on Bourbon.
The Famous Manhattan club, where the high class and educated have gathered during various occasions is also known as the birth place of one of Americas most celebrated cocktails.
Before prohibition bourbon was considered a white whiskey, harsh with subtle flavor. The one good thing that came out of prohibition was the aging process that accidentally took place while whiskey was transported in oak barrels giving it color and a bouquet of flavor. Prohibition caused distilleries, liquor distributors and bars to close over night, Leaving hundreds and thousands without work. Giving speakeasies an opportunity to shine and allowing us to taste the possibilities of an aged spirit.
The Manhattan became an elegant and desirable cocktail that showed class and sophistication; while making room for brands like Jim Beam and Makers Mark to show the craftsmanship of a true distiller.
The Manhattan drink recipe:
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
4 oz Maker’s mark bourbon
(any other boubon/whiskey of choice can be substituted. Such as Buillet rye, Crown Royal, Wild Turkey 81 proof or the like)
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a brandied or fresh cherry.
As the years have gone by since the invention of the Manhattan many have made their own variation of this classic cocktail.
A Rob Roy is made with Scotch whisky.
A Dry Manhattan is made with dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth and served with a twist. Dry Manhattans were popularized by Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.
A Perfect Manhattan is made with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.
A Brandy Manhattan is made with brandy rather than rye.
A Ruby Manhattan is made with port rather than vermouth.
A Metropolitan is similar to a brandy manhattan, but with a 3-to-1 ratio of brandy to vermouth.
A Cuban Manhattan is a Perfect Manhattan with dark rum as its principal ingredient.
A Latin Manhattan is made with equal parts of white rum, sweet and dry vermouth, and a splash of Maraschino cherry juice, served up with a twist.
A Royal Manhattan is made with Crown Royal Canadian Whisky.
A Southern Manhattan is made with Southern Comfort.
A Tijuana Manhattan is made with an Anejo Tequila.
A Monte Carlo is made with Bénédictine in place of vermouth
A Soul Manhattan is made with Absinthe instead of Vermouth
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.
Whether it was Black or Dr. Marshall we all have to give a big rounds of applause and a huge thanks to these boys for introducing us the world of mixology and showing us that an even if something had harsh corners it can still shine and have true beauty behind it.
The Manhattan cocktail is the ideal example of the American spirit. Considered by many to be the king of cocktails, it’s important to know what makes the Manhattan great.
Bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters, chilled and strained.