When MM can’t find his lychee martini at a bar, which is often, he goes for a Manhattan. It has become apparent that only experienced bartenders really know what a Manhattan is, so I’m going to educate all of us right now:
A Manhattan is a cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, ice and bitters. Commonly used whiskeys include rye (the traditional choice), Canadian, bourbon and Tennessee. Proportions of whiskey to vermouth vary, from a very sweet 1:1 ratio to a much less sweet 4:1 ratio. The cocktail is often stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass, where it is garnished with a Maraschino cherry with a stem. A Manhattan is also frequently served on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass (lowball glass).
It has been called a drinking man’s cocktail—strong, urbane, and simple. It has also been called the “king of cocktails.”
A popular history suggests that the drink originated at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870s, where it was invented for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston’s mother) in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. The success of the banquet made the drink fashionable, later prompting several people to request the drink by referring to the name of the club where it originated — “the Manhattan cocktail.”
However, there are prior references to various similar cocktail recipes called “Manhattan” and served in the Manhattan area. By one account it was invented in the 1860s by a bartender named Black at a bar on Broadway near Houston Street.