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Boston Food & Drink Website|Thursday, December 18, 2014
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Manhattan Cocktail 

The Manhattan cocktail, besides the Martini, may be the most iconic ever created. The details of the origin of this cocktail are cloudy, but many believe it was created at the famed Manhattan Club in NYC shortly after the civil war ended. Regardless, it truly is a drink to be cherished.

For me, it doesn’t get any better than this drink. The marriage of the whiskey, vermouth and bitters can not be beat. To this day, I can still remember the first time I had a Manhattan. The year was 2001 and my friends and I enjoyed going out in NYC. This particular late Fall night we first went to the Peculiar Pub (a great beer bar) on Bleeker Street and then ventured further down Bleeker towards MacDougal for something different.  At the time, there use to be a bar on the corner. The name it escapes me, but that is where I had ordered my first Manhattan cocktail, on the island of  Manhattan. 6,127 Manhattan’s later (an educated guess)…I am writing this.

Instead of giving you the usual recipe and short history paragraph in this post, I want to give you options; options to keep in mind before ordering your next Manhattan.

The Manhattan is one of the most versatile cocktails out there.  Instead of rye or bourbon whiskey as the base spirit, it can be made with:

  • Southern Comfort: Called the “Southern Manhattan”
  • Dark Rum: Made with equal parts dry and sweet vermouth; “Cuban Manhattan”
  • Anejo Tequila: “Tijuana Manhattan”
  • Crown Royal: “Royal Manhattan”
  • Port: “Ruby Manhattan”
  • Scotch-Whisky: “Rob Roy”
  • Brandy: “Brandy Manhattan”

You can also change up the the secondary ingredients and get these delicious libations…

  • Monte Carlo: Uses Benedictine instead of vermouth
  • Perfect Manhattan: Equal parts dry and sweet vermouth
  • Dry Manhattan: Dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth with a twist
  • Soul Manhattan: Uses absinthe instead of vermouth
  • The 4th Regiment: Equal parts whiskey and vermouth with orange, celery and Peychaud’s bitters.

Every time I make this drink, I have it slightly different than the last. Sometimes I will order it like: “I’ll have a Woodford Reserve Manhattan, up with orange bitters.” I love the burnt oak, chocolate notes from the Woodford and the orange bitters combination. And although this drink is meant to be served up (and stirred), I do enjoy it on the rocks occasionally.  Sometimes I don’t mind the dilution. I just won’t use my Whistle Pig Rye for those instances.

Traditional Manhattan Recipe:

  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Maraschino Cherry

Glass: Cocktail glass or coupe.

Method: Chill your glass. Build your drink in a pint glass. Add your ice and stir (do not shake this drink). Strain into your glass, add your garnish.


For this post, I stumbled across a great local bartender’s recipe…

Special Manhattan:

  • 1.5 oz Rye Whiskey
  • .5 oz Cognac
  • 1 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Brandy cherry

Glass: Coupe/Martini glass

Method. Chill your glass. Build your cocktail in a pint glass. Add your ice and stir. Serve your cherry garnish on the side or in the glass.

 - David Delaney, Jr. of Citizen Wine Bar and Still & Stir in Worcester and Citizen Public House in Fenway.

Watch David Delaney, Jr make his “Special” Manhattan:

Also, be sure to check out Citizen Wine Bar and Still & Stir in Worcester for other great cocktails.

For great Manhattan’s around Boston, check out Citizen Public House’s Ideal Manhattan and Deep Ellum’s Manhattan drink menu.

How do you take your Manhattan cocktail?

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