At home, Cocktail

The Manhattan Cocktail

Few cocktails are as simply great as the Manhattan. Strong, Simple, beautifully refined at the first, somewhat less at the third. A drinking man’s drink. A simple mix of vermouth, whiskey and a dash of bitters.

Drinks this good always have a number of different histories. One of the best attributes the beverage to Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston. Lady Randolph was throwing a dinner party for Samuel Tilden, 25th Govenor of New York, Bourbon Democrat and erstwhile Presidential candidate in the 1876 Elections. Tilden out polled his opponent Haye’s in the election, but lost as 20 electoral college votes were awarded by the courts. His misfortune didn’t end there either. A short examination of the history books show that Lady Randolph was in France at the time of the dinner, pregnant.

The drink was probably invented at the Manhattan Club, where the aforementioned banquet allegedly took place, so Tilden’s relationship with the drink is not completely extinguished and the window of time is about right too, so he probably tried one, if not had it made in his honor.

Most agree that it is best made with rye, but prohibition introduced Canadian along the American Whiskey, and all are generally acceptable  these days, your own preference really being key here. A lot of people add maraschino, which I find just covers the taste of the spirit but again, to each his own. I’ve chosen Basil Hayden’s primarily as it has a high percentage of rye in the mash.

The Manhattan Cocktail

Add 60mls of Basil Hayden’s, 15mls sweet vermouth and a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters to a well iced shaking tin, stir well and strain up. garnish with a twist and luxuriate.


Dry Manhattan – substitute dry vermouth for the sweet.

Perfect Manhattan – half dry, half sweet vermouth.

Rob Roy – substitute the whiskey for Whisky

Paddy – Irish whiskey, to be sure.

Fanciulli – substitute the vermouth for Fernet Branca

Ruby Manhattan – substitute port for vermouth

Metropolitan – substitute cognac for whiskey

Cuban Manhattan – substitute dark rum for whiskey

Latin Manhattan – Perfect with light rum.