Manhattan is a hugely popular cocktail made out of concocting whiskey, bitters, and sweet vermouth. Presently, one can use whiskey of his choice but traditionally, rye was used. Manhattan is listed as one of the 6 basic drinks in “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks”, a hugely popular classic by David Embury.
Most of the historians believed for the longest time that Manhattan originated from the famous Manhattan Club in New York in the late 19th Century. As per the accounts, Dr. Iain Marshall is credited with being the inventor of this drink. It was served for the first time in a banquet hosted in honor Samuel Tilden, the then presidential candidate. It is the popularity of the banquet which made Manhattan rise to its prominence. And since it is said to have originated from Manhattan club, hence the name. But this story is considered pure fiction because the host of the bouquet is said to be Lady Randolph Churchill, who at that time was pregnant and was in England rather than partying in Manhattan.
The original Manhattan cocktail used rye whiskey as the main ingredient, along with Italian vermouth and bitters. But in the early 20th century, during the prohibition era (1920 – 1933), Canadian whiskey started being used since it was now readily available compared to American rye whiskey.
Another story that goes around its invention also credits Manhattan area with the invention of this drink. But as per this prevalent story, the drink had been invented and quite popular much before it was served in the Manhattan club for the mentioned bouquet. The drink is said to have been invented by a bartender who worked in a Broadway bar near the Houston area.
The earliest mention of Manhattan can be found in “The Flowing Bowl” by William Schmidt which was published in 1891. The drink also appeared by the name of “Tennesse Cocktail” in “Shake ‘em Up” published in 1930.
Traditionally, it was believed that shaking the Manhattan cocktail mixture results in persistent foaming, hence it was always stirred. But now it is known that persistent foaming is due to either dirty equipment used in mixing ingredients or the dirty glass in which it is being served.
At present, there are multiple variations of Manhattan but the classic one is still loved all around the world.