Cocktail of the Week: Manhattan

We check in with our Cocktail of the Week. The Manhattan.

imagesThis week’s cocktail is a classy and ubiquitous throwback. The Manhattan is a bourbon lover’s dream. A prolific blend of bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters, the Manhattan has a striking aroma, which fans of the drink recognize immediately. As the first drink to make use of vermouth as a blend, the Manhattan truly is the grandfather of American cocktails.

A brief history of the Manhattan:

The proprietors of The Manhattan Club argue the drink was created in their establishment for the great Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill in the 1870s. Many others suggest that rumor is a farce and that the Manhattan was originally created as an homage to the New York borough. No matter what you choose to believe, it’s clear the drink has done justice to whomever or whatever served as its original inspiration.

Mostly dormant and phased out during the vodka and tequila booms of the 21st century, the Manhattan’s glory days seemed over. That couldn’t be further from the truth, however. Like many drinks with so much history behind them, it seems everyone has a take on the recipe. From the Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide to the local barkeep, measurements take on lives of their own. It is this drink enthusiast’s opinion that you don’t mess with a classic; therefore, I am sticking with the oldest recipe—that of a man named “Black,” a bartender from the 1880s who also has a stake in the creation of this legendary libation.

Glass: Cocktail or Martini


  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 1/2 oz bourbon whiskey
  • 1 dash bitters
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • 1 twist orange peel
Instructions: Combine the vermouth, bourbon whiskey, and bitters with 2 – 3 ice cubes in a mixing glass. Stir gently, don’t bruise the spirits and cloud the drink. Place the cherry in a chilled cocktail glass and strain the whiskey mixture over the cherry. Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink to release the oils but don’t drop it in.
VARIATION: No bitters. Substitute a twist of lime for the cherry and orange. Hold the lime twist in a lighted match over the drink and then drop it in. The heat really zips up the lime flavor.

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