The History of the Manhattan Cocktail: A Tale of Sweet Perfection

The Manhattan cocktail has been around for over a century and has a storied history. The origins of the classic cocktail are often debated, but it's widely accepted that it was created in the early 1880s at the Manhattan Club in New York City. The most popular explanation behind the name is that the drink was created for a party held at the Manhattan Club by Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston Churchill.

The original recipe for the Manhattan called for , sweet , Angostura bitters and a Maraschino cherry. The Perfect Manhattan is a variation of this classic cocktail which calls for two parts rye whiskey, one part sweet vermouth and one part dry vermouth. This version was said to be named after the use of “perfect” proportions of each ingredient.

The iteration of this drink can be made with any type of whiskey or , depending on personal preference. To make one, combine two ounces of whiskey with one ounce each of sweet and dry vermouth in a mixing glass filled with ice cubes. Add two dashes each of Angostura bitters and orange bitters (or your favorite bittering agent). Stir until chilled then strain into a chilled martini glass or coupe. Garnish with an orange twist or Maraschino cherry if desired.

The Manhattan is an iconic cocktail that has stood the test of time because of its timeless flavor profile and adaptability to different palates. Whether you prefer it shaken or stirred, neat or on the rocks, it's sure to be a hit at any gathering you host! Cheers!

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Who Invented the Manhattan Cocktail?

The Manhattan cocktail was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall in the early 1880's for a party hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill – the mother of Winston Churchill – at the Manhattan Club in New York City. This combination of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters became known as the Manhattan due to its association with the club. Dr. Marshall is credited with creating the recipe, though other bartenders may have adapted it over time.

The Origin of the Name ‘Perfect Manhattan'.

The Perfect Manhattan is so-named because it incorporates two types of vermouth in equal proportions, resulting in a “perfect” balance of sweet and dry flavors. This combination of sweet and dry vermouth creates complexity and depth to the drink that is not found with just one type of vermouth. Additionally, the use of two different types of vermouth allows drinkers to customize their cocktail to their own taste preferences.

Is a Manhattan an Old Fashioned Cocktail?

A Manhattan is not an Old Fashioned. While both are widely considered classics, they have distinct differences. The primary difference is that an Old Fashioned is made with whiskey (often or rye) and sweetened with a sugar cube dissolved in a splash of or simple syrup, whle a Manhattan is made with whiskey (often rye), sweet vermouth, and bitters. Other differences include the types of they are served in and their garnishes. An Old Fashioned is typically served in an old-fashioned glass with an orange peel garnish, while a Manhattan is typically served in a Martini glass with a maraschino cherry garnish.


The Manhattan cocktail is a classic and beloved drink with a storied past. It is believed to have been invented by Dr. Iain Marshall in the early 1880's for a party at the Manhattan Club, however, this origin story has not been proven. The main difference between the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan lies in the sweeteners used – the Old Fashioned calls for sugar either as a cube or in simple syrup, while the Manhattan uses sweet vermouth. Whatever its origin story, one thng is certain – this timeless cocktail will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.