Manhattan Cocktail

Manhattan Cocktail


While there are many romantic places on the planet, none are as hauntingly romantic as Manhattan. Often considered the capitol of the world, there have been songs and movies written about it, and of course the cocktail which you can sip while listening to Manhattan Serenade by Tommy Dorsey from the Big Band Era, somewhere before, during, and after Prohibition.

The cocktail dates back to the mid to late 1800s and as usual, many claim to have invented it first and there are varying recipes. One story is that Manhattan was first created by Winston Churchill’s mother hosting a party in New York.

What we can say for certain that the original recipes included rye because of the close proximity to Canada, which was still producing whiskey during Prohibition because this absurd law did not cross the border from the USA. Then we have the common European aperitif of sweet vermouth, and of course the bitters, which was the definitive  ingredient for any cocktail and helped mask the often harsh flavor of poor and/or barely-aged spirits.  Remember, during prohibition, they were bottling spirits nearly as fast as they came out of the still to keep up with demand. If any whiskey was ever aged, it was usually because it was put into a barrel for transportation, and that rarely lasted more than a few months.

Manhattan Cocktail

  • 2 oz. or 60ml of Rye Whiskey
  • .75 oz or 20ml of Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes of bitters, Abbott’s if you can find it from the Art of Drink, use Angostura.
  • Cherry garnish
  • Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice, shake hard for 60 seconds, pour with a strainer into a martini or coupe glass.  While some might argue to stir instead of shake, its entirely up to you. After the first sip or two I doubt many will know the difference.

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