Origin of The Manhattan Cocktail

 In Vya

Like any good classic, the most popular account of The Manhattan’s creation is a bit of a myth. As the story goes, the first Manhattan was made at the Manhattan Club during a posh political event. Dr. Ian Marshall stirred it up on the spot to impress Winston Churchill’s Mother. It is said that as the popularity of this cocktail grew people began to associate it with the place it was made, hence calling it “The Manhattan.” However, it seems this story is far from likely, as historical documents confirm that Lady Randolph Churchill was in France at the time and pregnant with Winston himself!

The more likely genesis of the libation can be found in the 1923 publication, Valentine’s Manual of New York , where it states: “The Manhattan cocktail was invented by a man named Black who kept a place 10 doors below Houston Street on Broadway in the 1860’s—probably the most famous drink in the world in its time.”

The original recipe calls for equal parts Rye Whiskey and Sweet Vermouth.

The Manhattan Club’s Manhattan (1870s)

  • 1 ½ oz straight rye whiskey
  • 1 ½ oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Stir well with cracked ice:

Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and zest a thin-cut lemon peel over the top.


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