The Manhattan cocktail is one of the classics of drink mixing, as well as one of the five cocktails named after the five boroughs of New York City. Generally, the history of a drink or cocktail is uncertain, because it is difficult to pinpoint the exact time and location a drink was first made. Several stories mention its origin would be sometime in the late 1800s, so it is at least safe to say that this cocktail was invented in the 19th century. One account, which mentions the drink was first served in 1970, states that the location was the Manhattan Club in New York City; this would explain the drink’s name, but the story is not very likely because it relies on the presence of Lady Randolph Churchill – Winston Churchill’s mother –, who in fact was in Europe at the time.
The most common recipe for the Manhattan cocktail contains ingredients like whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitter. When it comes to choosing the whiskey, the bartender can use rye whiskey, bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, blended whiskey and Canadian whiskey, which was an important part of the recipe especially during Prohibition. The cocktail usually has a red or pink color, depending on the type of ingredients used, and it is served in a classic cocktail glass, or martini glass.
The Manhattan cocktail is usually served straight, but one can also have it on the rocks, in an Old Fashioned glass. The International Bartenders Association specifies the following recipe as the official one: 50 milliliters of whiskey, 20 milliliters of sweet red vermouth, Dash Angostura bitters and one Maraschino cherry with a stem as garnish. The drinks are mixed together and stirred over ice, then strained into a cocktail glass that has been previously chilled.
An interesting story about the Manhattan cocktail is that it also became a standard and almost traditional drink for the people on the North Frisian island Föhr. This is part of the North Frisian Islands of Germany, and it saw a number of emigrations in America, during which the people started liking the drink. Thus, today this cocktail is served in most restaurants and cafes in Föhr, although the recipe is slightly modified. In fact, there have been many reinventions of the drink, such as the Royal Manhattan, the Ruby Manhattan, the Brandy Manhattan or the Cuban Manhattan. All in all, perhaps it is its versatility that made the cocktail so famous and appreciated worldwide.