The Origin and History of the Manhattan Cocktail

The Manhattan is a classic. Period.

Ok, it’s not easy for any New Yorker to say this: but its reputation goes well beyond the Red Apple’s borders. How so? Well, if you know how to mix ingredients into this drink, you can become something of a cocktail bar rockstar. An A-class artist, no matter where you are from!

Even if you haven’t sipped one yet, you must have at least seen its name decorate a cocktail list, right? All for a good reason – it is more than a drink. It’s more like a piece of national heritage lodged into our modern-day drinking culture. So to honor that reputation and legend behind it, we’d like to share some exciting things you might not know about the Manhattan Cocktail.

The Original Manhattan

If you consider it’s history, you’ll find that it’s older than you and a lot of people in your family tree. Many stories were told, and sadly, many were forgotten. There are quite a few theories about who invented the Manhattan Cocktail. Roots trace back to around 1870s, but we have no idea which individual or group we should thank for creating it. Might as well commend them all, eh?

In fact, different versions of Manhattan were passed down from generation to generation. This means the original recipe must have branched out as time passed by. Like a family tree. This is why two different bars will serve you two different versions of the Manhattan cocktail.

No one today can retrace its origin story with certainty. Unlike Cola, Manhattan wasn’t prescribed as a medical recipe. There was no original recipe. But the original mix did exist. Somebody must have made the first blend of ingredients which gave birth to the classic.

Old School – New School

Back then it was fashionable to drink it; it was new and vogue. Nowadays, it all boils down to your taste buds. Manhattan is made of all kinds of whiskeys, along with bourbon and even brandy. Rob Roy, Dry Manhattan, Perfect Manhattan, Metropolitan, Cuban, Tijuana… You name it. There are many variations. But back in the day, resources were somewhat limited.

At its most basic level, old school Manhattan is made of three ingredients. 5 part good rye whiskey, 1 part Italian sweet vermouth, and a dash of Angostura bitters. Stirred with ice, not shaken. Plus, maraschino cherries were first used as a garnish when they hit the US market around 1900. Some earliest recipes also suggested adding absinthe and gum syrup to the mix.

Did you know Sex and the City contributed to the rise of Manhattan cocktail sales? Actually, this is a lie. No, it didn’t. New York was, is, and always will be excited about the Manhattan. To us, it is evergreen. Visit us if you are ever in the Midtown West neighborhood, and we will show you what New York history looks like in a martini glass.

By |2018-06-21T18:00:36+00:00June 4th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

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