An oft-repeated origin story of the Manhattan says it was unveiled in 1874 at the Manhattan Club in New York during a party thrown by Winston Churchill’s mother. However, in his essential booze book Imbibe!, spirits sage David Wondrich alleges this tale to be partially true at best. Apparently, at the time of the alleged birth of this legendary cocktail in the Big Apple, Lady Churchill was in England birthing a future Prime Minister of some significance. However the Manhattan came to exist, there’s little arguing Wondrich’s sentiment that when properly built it’s “the only cocktail that can slug it out toe-to-toe with the Martini.” Like the island whose name it shares, the drink is sweet, strong, eternally cool, and retains a dangerous edge.
Mix it Up
A proper Manhattan should be made with rye, and don’t let your bourbon-loving friends tell you differently. That said, you should make it with whatever makes you happy. The above recipe is adapted from the seminal 1906 tome, Louis’ Mixed Drinks, by legendary mixologist Louis Muckensturm, but some may find it a tad sweet. Dial back the vermouth to remedy this as needed. If you substitute Amer Picon for the bitters and use only half an ounce of sweet vermouth, then you’ve made a Monahan, of which there are more than a few in the Manhattan Whitepages.
Recommended Ryes: Templeton, Few, Rittenhouse 100
There are those who consider the Manhattan a little sweet for their tastes. Enter the Perfect Manhattan—a recipe variation that calls for equal parts dry and sweet vermouth for a more balanced version of the classic cocktail. Though we believe Manhattans should always be made with rye, bourbon is also an acceptable option, especially in...