Our Quick Guide to the Manhattan Cocktail

Our Quick Guide to the Manhattan Cocktail
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Manhattan cocktailThe Manhattan cocktail is a popular classic cocktail with vermouth, bitters and whiskey, preferably rye whiskey. The cocktail is perfectly balanced, simple to make and is equally at home in the hand of a a male or female drinker. The Manhattan cocktail is typically stirred with ice and strained into a Cocktail Glass, in which it is traditionally garnished with a maraschino cherry.The cocktail is also sometimes served on the rocks in an Old Fashioned Glass. The Manhattan was the first cocktail with vermouth to use the fortified wine as modifier. Many variations of the drink can now be found, such as the Rob Roy cocktail, the Metropolitan and the Cuban Manhattan.

The exact origins of the Manhattan cocktail are open to debate, however, the most popular story is that the drink was invented by one Dr. Iain Marshall for a party hosted by Winston Churchill`s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill. The party was hosted at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870`s and a drink was created that proved so popular that it was named after the club itself. The drink, which was to become the Manhattan, was a mix of American Whiskey, Italian Vermouth and Angostura Bitters.

However, there are previous references to cocktail recipes also called Manhattan and also served in the Manhattan area. One well cited story originated from William F Mulhall, who was the bartender at the Hoffman house hotel between 1862 and 1915, who later wrote that the classic concoction was invented by a bartender called Black at a bar on Broadway near Houston Street around 1860.Furthermore, the Manhattan recipe appears later on in 1930, listed as a “Tennesse Cocktail” in V.Elliot`s and P.Strong`s book Shake `em Up!

The Manhattans widespread  popularity has unsurprisingly heralded numerous variations. These include the Perfect Manhattan, which is made from equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, the Ruby Manhattan, made with port rather than vermouth and the Rob Roy cocktail, which is made with Scotch Whisky and Sweet Vermouth. There are also variations in the preparations of the drink, with some bartenders choosing to use Bourbon or Canadian whiskey instead of the traditional selection of rye whiskey. Also, some tend to shake their Manhattan instead of stir it, however, this may cause an undesired cloudy appearance. A maraschino cherry is generally the garnish of choice and sometimes more creative bartenders will add a splash of maraschino juice to give the drink that extra dimension of colour and flavour. Lemon peel is sometimes used as an alternative garnish. Although Angostura Bitters is the bitters of choice for your perfect Manhattan cocktail, orange bitters and even Peychauds Bitters are sometimes preferred. Occasionally a splash of Amer Picon is used instead of Bitters making the drink a Monahan and even a splash of anisette can be used, making the drink a Narragansett.


In the classic screwball comedy comedy Some Like it Hot, Marilyn Monroes character memorably makes Manhattans in a hot water bottle. Manhattans frequent many Jack Kerouac`s novels such as Big Sur and On the Road. In the Simpsons episode, Bart the Murderer, Bart Simpson make Manhattans for Springfield`s local mobsters. Sarah Jessica Parker, known to millions around the world for her role as Carrie Bradshaw in the Sex and the City recently stated that the Manhattan was her favourite cocktail and that this iconic cocktail with vermouth and whisky perfectly represented the Manhattan life.

Cocktail Ingredients

50 ml Bourbon, 10 ml Sweet Vermouth, 10 ml Dry Vermouth, 2 dashes Angostura Bitters, Orange peel

How to make Manhattan Cocktail

Chill cocktail glass with ice and soda. Fill a mixing glass with ice and then add all ingredients. Using a bar spoon, stir the drink for approximately 20 seconds. When stirring, always ensure the glass is topped up with ice.Taste and then strain into the chilled cocktail glass, serving straight up. Zest the drink and glass with the orange peel and then twist and place in glass.


Written by damien

Posted: November 22, 2012