The exact origins of the Manhattan cocktail are unknown, while there are several stories and legends surrounding its creation, one of the most accepted stories is that it was created by a bartender named Black at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the 1870s or 1880s. According to this story, the cocktail was created for a party hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill, the mother of Winston Churchill. The party was held at the Manhattan Club, and the cocktail was named after the borough of Manhattan, where the club was located.
Another legend surrounding the creation of the Manhattan cocktail involves a bartender named Jerry Thomas, who was known as the “father of American mixology.” According to this story, Thomas created the cocktail in the early 1870s, while working at the Hoffman House in New York City. He allegedly made the drink for a customer who asked for a cocktail with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters and named it after the nearby Manhattan Club.
While the true origins of the Manhattan cocktail are unclear, what is certain is that it has become a classic cocktail enjoyed by many around the world.
The original recipe for the Manhattan cocktail included whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. These three ingredients create a balance of flavors, making the Manhattan cocktail a complex and sophisticated drink. Whiskey is the base spirit of the Manhattan cocktail, and it is typically made with rye whiskey. However, Bourbon or Canadian whiskey can also be used.
Rye whiskey is a critical ingredient in the original recipe and is known for its spicy and robust flavor profile. Conversely, Bourbon has a sweeter and smoother flavor profile, while Canadian whiskey has a lighter, more mellow flavor. Sweet vermouth is another crucial ingredient in the Manhattan cocktail.
Vermouth is a fortified wine that is flavored with various botanicals and spices. Sweet vermouth is used in the Manhattan cocktail to add a subtle sweetness and complexity to the drink. The brand of vermouth used can significantly affect the cocktail’s flavor profile, with some popular options including Carpano Antica Formula, Martini & Rossi, and Dolin.
Bitters are the final ingredient in the Manhattan cocktail, and they are used to balance the sweetness of the vermouth and add depth and complexity to the drink. Angostura bitters are the most used in the Manhattan cocktail, but other options, such as Peychaud’s bitters or orange bitters, can also be used.
Over time, the recipe for the Manhattan cocktail has evolved, with various twists and variations being added to the original recipe. Some of the most popular variations include:
The Perfect Manhattan uses equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, whiskey, and bitters. This variation creates a slightly drier and more complex flavor profile than the original recipe.
The Rob Roy is a variation of the Manhattan cocktail made with Scotch instead of rye whiskey. Scotch gives the drink a smoky, peaty flavor profile that differs distinctly from the original recipe.
The Dry Manhattan uses dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth. This variation creates a drier and more bracing flavor profile that some drinkers prefer.
The Black Manhattan is a modern twist on the classic recipe made using Averna, an Italian liqueur, instead of sweet vermouth.
So enjoy this classic cocktail whether you take your Manhattan Dry, Black, Perfect, or just standard.