Can you imagine a region more hopping than pre-prohibition Manhattan? Talk about liquid trouble…a drink named for the city must have caused quite a stir back in the day.
The drink’s history (according to Wikipedia)
A popular history suggests that the drink originated at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870s, where it was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston‘s mother) in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. The success of the banquet made the drink fashionable, later prompting several people to request the drink by referring to the name of the club where it originated—”the Manhattan cocktail.” However, Lady Randolph was in France at the time and pregnant, so the story is likely a fiction. The original “Manhattan cocktail” was a mix of “American Whiskey, Italian Vermouth and Angostura bitters“.
However, there are prior references to various similar cocktail recipes called “Manhattan” and served in the Manhattan area. By one account it was invented in the 1860s by a bartender named Black at a bar on Broadway near Houston Street.
An early record of the cocktail can be found in William Schmidt’s “The Flowing Bowl”, published in 1891. In it, he details a drink containing 2 dashes of gum, 2 dashes of bitters, 1 dash of absinthe, 2/3 portion of whiskey and 1/3 portion of vermouth.
One urban legend suggests that the drink was named “manhattan” after the city’s sewage and water system, which ran brown at the time.
How to make an “Equal Parts Manhattan”
This recipe was the most common Manhattan for the first few decades of the drinks life, during the 1880s and 1890s.
1 shot rye or Bourbon whiskey
1 shot sweet vermouth
2 dashes bitters of your choice
Stir all ingredients well with ice and strain in to cocktail glass.