Monday, 28 March 2011

The Manhattan: A New York Icon

Before the girls from "Sex and the City" made the Cosmo a modern day icon of New York City, a classic cocktail called "The Manhattan" was the traditional classic cocktail of New York. The year was 1876, a famous year in American history. It was the year of one of the most disputed and controversial presidential elections of all time. The candidates at the time were democratic candidate, Samuel Jones Tilden, and republican Rutherford B. Hayes. Why the electron was so controversial is a whole other story, basically it involved illegal votes and corruption. Samuel Tilden lived in New york city and worked closely with the New york business community. In the lead up to election day, a banquet was held at the "Manhattan Club" in honour of Samuel Tilden. Many of New york city's top business men and there associates were invited to come and support Tilden in his push for the U.S presidency. For this special night, a signature cocktail was created to be served to all the guests. Dr Iain Marshall (said to be an associate of Tilden's) invented a drink which consisted of Rye or Canadian whiskey, sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters and garnished with a maraschino cherry. At this stage, the cocktail didn't have a name. The Banquet was a huge success, and so was the cocktail. The drink became fashionable amongst the NYC elite. People who were at that party began to order this cocktail in other bars around New York, asking bartenders for the "Cocktail that's served at the Manhattan Club". From then on, the cocktail shall always be known as "The Manhattan".

To make this cocktail it's really quite simple. In a cocktail shaker add 45ml of Canadian Club, 15ml sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters and lastly, top up with ice. Stir the ingredients well, diluting the mixture a little. I have seen bartenders shake manhattans, which is fine, I personally prefer to stir the drink, as you have more control over the dilution. It's a good idea to taste the drink through a straw every so often while you stir.  You don't want to dilute the spirits to much.  Once your happy with the taste, strain mixture into a chilled martini class and drop a maraschino cherry in the glass.  I like to serve this drink in a martini glass, but it's sometimes often served on the rocks in a short glass.

One great thing about this drink is if you don't like rye style whiskey, you can still make a great Manhattan variation.  You could have a "Cuban Manhattan" made with dark rum, a "Brandy Manhattan", made with obviously brandy, a "Tijuana Manhattan", made with anejo tequila and the list goes on.   Hope you have some fun and enjoy your Manhattan!

In a Shaker:
45ml Rye Whiskey
15ml sweet vermouth
Dash of Bitters
Add ice and stir
Serve in to a chilled martini glass (or on the rocks)

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