The Dry Manhattan is cocktail number 49 on the Swank Cocktail Guide.
Manhattan cocktail history
Two origin stories are typically associated with the Manhattan cocktail, although who really knows how many cocktails with the same name as New York City’s most densely populated borough have been created through the centuries.
Manhattan Cocktail creation: The Manhattan Club
One of the most common creation theories for the Manhattan cocktail associates the libation with the Manhattan Club, a social club founded in 1865.
This version of the cocktail’s creation story dates to the early 1870s, where it was attributed to Dr. Ian Marshall for a banquet for Samuel J. Tilden hosted by Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome who married Lord Randolph Churchill and became Lady Randolph Churchill.
Perhaps, but it is believed that Lady Randolph Churchill was in France at the time.
It does appear a “new cocktail” was invented at the Manhattan Club around 1873. A newspaper article states:
The New York Club has a peculiar cocktail. It is made of the best brandy and several different kinds of bitters, and they always want it shaken in ice, not stirred. The Amaranth Club has a cocktail made with seltzer, and the Manhattan Club has invented another.
Manhattan Cocktail creation: Bartender Black
In 1923, Henry Collins Brown published a chapter entitled “The Golden Age of Booze” written by William F. Mulhall in his book,Valentine’s Manual of Old New York, No. 7, New Series.
On page 134, Mr. Mulhall tells of a different Manhattan cocktail inventor:
“The big Continental Hotel, at Broadway and Twentieth Street, made a great reputation for years by its “whiskey- sours.” The Manhattan cocktail was invented by a man named Black, who kept a place ten doors below Houston Street on Broadway in the sixties—probably the most famous mixed drink in the world in its time. The cocktail made America famous and there were many varieties of them—in fact, the variety was infinite—I remember at the Hoffmann in the old days a gentleman would come in and sit down to a table with his party and the waiter would come over and order his particular formula for the party.”
George Winter’s How to Mix Drinks, 1884, Manhattan Cocktail.
George Winter included a Manhattan Cocktail recipe in his 1884 How To Mix Drinks on page 52:
Dry Manhattan cocktail recipe
4 jiggers Whiskey, 1 jigger Dry Vermouth, 1 dash Bitters. Stir well with ice and strain in glass. Twist of Lemon peel or Cherry.
- Redemption Rye Whiskey
- Dolin Dry Vermouth
- Angustura Bitters
- Maraschino cherry
Dry Manhattan cocktail review
Our ratings (1-5 🍸)
If you like Rye Whiskey, you’ll most likely enjoy this cocktail. We don’t so…
Next up… Cocktail # 50, Manhattan (Sweet)