No cocktail so perfectly embobies the sophistication, ubanity and style of NYC as a Manhattan cocktail and it has a long history and the acclaim of experts to further boost its stellar position as the premier cocktail of the City.
The history of the Manhattan is murky, however it did not make an appearance until after one of it’s key ingredients, Italian Vermouth became readily available in the mid 19th Century in NYC. Various stories attribute it’s origins to a bar in Broadway in 1860, a banquet at the Manhattan club in the early 1870′s or to a recipe published in 1891. It is most likely various versions were around until the classic Manhattan recipe was accepted as the defintitive way to make it.
The recipe is very simple: 5 parts rye whisky to 2 parts Italian Vermouth, a dash of Angostura bitters, all of which is then stirred over ice and strained into a cocktail glass that already holds within it a maraschino cherry with the stalk attached. There is a mild controversy about wether it should be made stirred or shaken, with the weight of opinion lying on the side of being stirred.
It has the distinction of being named one of THE six classic basic cocktails by David A Embury, in his famed book on cocktails ‘The fine Art Of Mixing Drinks’. The Manhattqan fulfills his definition of what a ‘real’ cocktail is all about by comprising a base of a single spirt ( in this case rye whisky), modified by an ingredient (Italian Vermouth) that softens the raw alcohol taste while enhancing it and then a dash of a coloring agents such as a licqueur or a bitters. Embury dismisses sweet cocktails as only suitable for after dinner occasions and praises the Manhattan as an aromatic cocktail that whets the appetite. In Embury’s world
While rye whisky is the choice of purists as the base spirti, some use Canadian whisky, bourbon or a Tennessee whisky. All cocktail lovers are emphatic that personal taste has to come into how any one cocktail is made. But why improve on a classic, drink and enjoy.