One of the enduring heavyweights in the cocktail world, the Manhattan is something of a twist on the Old-Fashioned, most likely spurred by sweet vermouth’s arrival and ensuing popularity in the United States during the latter part of the 19th century. The too-good-to-be-true story surrounding this drink’s origins—that it was invented at the Manhattan Club for an event with Winston Churchill’s mother—is just that: a tall tale. There’s still some debate among cocktail historians, but current theories for the original recipe favor either the Manhattan Club (sans Churchill), or a waiter named “Black,” who worked in lower Manhattan in the 1870s. There are other cocktails named for each of New York’s boroughs, but none as popular as the Manhattan.
Photo originally published in Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons, copyright © 2011. Photo by Ed Anderson © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.