Like most classic cocktails, the Manhattan has a storied history that proffers up multiple possibilities for its true origin. The most widely accepted version for this particular tipple? The drink was invented in the 1870s at the Manhattan Club in New York City by Dr. Iain Marshall to honor presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden (he didn’t end up winning the presidency if you hadn’t guessed by now). The banquet was thrown by Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome, who was also known as Lady Randolph Churchill.
However, this widely accepted version is a bunch of bull. We owe you a Manhattan if we’re wrong. According to records, Lady Churchill was in France at the time, not in the Big Apple. The drink, though, most likely was created at the Manhattan Club, just not for that specific occasion.
One of the earliest written recipes we have comes from a 1916 history of the club written by Henry Watterson, which calls for equal parts whiskey and vermouth and a dash of bitters. The Manhattan we know today is close to this, but the proportions are a bit bumped up, giving rye whiskey a much bigger role than earlier. For cocktail nerds out there, the Manhattan is closely related to another cocktail named for a New York City borough, the Brooklyn, which uses Amer Picon in place of the bitters, dry vermouth in place of the sweet vermouth, and adds Maraschino liqueur to the mix.
For our classic Manhattan recipe, we are using Still 630 Distillery’s RallyPoint Rye, winner of the Best Rye Whiskey category in The Manual Spirit Awards 2018. We also enlisted the help of Anna Maceda, beverage director of Grand Army Tavern in Portland, Oregon.
For those that find themselves in Portland, Grand Army Tavern (located in the Woodlawn neighborhood) is hog heaven for pork and cocktail lovers, with selections ranging from house-made charcuterie to porchetta and spiced butt roast sliders (bonus points if you can say the name without giggling). Those dishes, as well as the wide array of vegetarian options, go perfectly with the drink program, which ranges from light and Sunday morning-ready to spirit-forward.
How to Make a Manhattan
Glass: Cocktail glass (aka martini glass)
Tools: Stirring spoon, strainer, large ice cube maker
- 2 oz StilL 630 Rallypoint Rye
- .75 oz sweet red vermouth
- 1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
Method: Stir rye, vermouth, and bitters together with large cube of ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.