A Manhattan is a cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, ice, and bitters. Commonly used whiskeys include rye (the traditional choice), Canadian, bourbon and Tennessee. Proportions of whiskey to vermouth vary, from a very sweet 1:1 ratio to a much drier 4:1 ratio. The cocktail is often stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass, where it is garnished with a Maraschino cherry with a stem. A Manhattan is also frequently served on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass (lowball glass).
The Manhattan is one of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury's classic The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. It has been called a drinking man's cocktail—strong, urbane, and simple. It has also been called the "king of cocktails."
A popular history suggests that the drink originated at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870s, where it was invented for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston's mother) in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. The success of the banquet made the drink fashionable, later prompting several people to request the drink by referring to the name of the club where it originated — "the Manhattan cocktail." The original "Manhattan cocktail" was a mix of "American Whiskey, Italian Vermouth and Angostura bitters".
However, there are prior references to various similar cocktail recipes called "Manhattan" and served in the Manhattan area. By one account it was invented in the 1860s by a bartender named Black at a bar on Broadway near Houston Street.
The Manhattan is subject to considerable variation and innovation, and is often a way for the best bartenders to show off their creativity. Some shake the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker instead of stirring it, creating a froth on the surface of the drink. Angostura are the classic bitters, but orange bitters, Peychaud's Bitters, and others may be used; using Fernet-Branca yields what is called a Fanciulli cocktail. Some make their own bitters and syrups, substitute comparable digestifs in place of vermouth, specialize in local or rare whiskeys, or use other exotic ingredients. A lemon peel may be used as garnish. Some add juice from the cherry jar or Maraschino liqueur to the cocktail for additional sweetness and color.
Originally, bitters were considered an integral part of any cocktail, as the ingredient that differentiated a cocktail from a sling. Over time, those definitions of cocktail and sling have become archaic, as sling has fallen out of general use (other than in certain drink names), and cocktail can mean any drink that resembles a martini, or simply any mixed drink. Accordingly, bitters are frequently omitted from a Manhattan unless specifically requested; purists, however, maintain that bitters are required to offset the sweetness of the whiskey and vermouth.
Using more vermouth and less whiskey to create a milder Manhattan may actually make the drink taste stronger to some drinkers because of the intense flavor of sweet red vermouth.
My recipe for the manhattan is as follows: The Manhattan 2 oz Canadian Rye Whisky (substitute Bourbon, or Tennessee Whisky) 3/4 oz Sweet Red Vermouth Dash of Angostura Bitters (optional) 3 Large Ice cubes Maraschino Cherry Twist of Orange Peel Add the whiskey, the Vermouth, and the optional bitters with 3 large ice cubes in a Martini Shaker. Shake gently to chill the mixture. Spear a cherry … more