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Updated: May 6, 2022

Hi, friends of cocktails and history. Today we’re taking a look at how different a modern Manhattan is from the ones made nearly 140 years ago. I made three versions of this classic cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters by using recipes from 1884,1887, and the well-known modern version.

It was obviously pretty popular by the end of the 19th century, but it’s unclear who and when exactly created the Manhattan cocktail.

There are many possible stories floating around its creation, including the popular Manhattan Club being the birthplace of this iconic drink. All of that is highlighted by the cocktail historian David Wondrich, in his excellent book, Imbibe.

Besides the history of the cocktail, he also offers 3 different recipes and the school of thought behind them. We’ll make two of them. I highly recommend this book. Now, who’s ready for some Manhattans?

By buying through the affiliate links you’re also helping out the Cocktail Time channel with a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Cheers!

To make it easier for you to try these recipes you can grab the bottles from my collection at CURIADA

FORMULA #1 1884 (How To Mix Drinks)

(Use large bar glass)

● Two or three dashes of peruvian bitters (I used orange bitters),

● One to two dashes of gum syrup (half a teaspoon)

● One-half wine glass of whiskey (45 mL or 1.5 oz)

● One-half wine glass of Vermouth (45 mL or 1.5 oz)

Fill glass three-quarters of fine shaved ice, mix well with a spoon, strain in fancy cocktail glass and serve (no garnish).

(Use large bar glass)

● Take 2 dashes of Curacao or Maraschino,

● 1 pony glass of rye whiskey (30 ml or 1 oz)

● 1 wine-glass of vermouth (60 ml or 2 oz)

● 3 dashes of Boker’s bitters (half a barspoon)

● 2 small lumps of ice

Shake up well, and strain into a claret glass. Put a quarter of a slice of lemon in the glass and serve. If the customer prefers it very sweet use also two dashes of gum syrup.

MANHATTAN Modern version

● 60 mL (2 oz) whiskey

● 30 mL (1 oz) vermouth Cocchi di Torino

● 2 dashes of Angostura bitters (4 with a Japanese-style dasher)

Stir well and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with orange zest or a maraschino cherry.

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