Page 54 - Network Magazine Fall 2018
P. 54

           The Manhattan Project:
Making the Manhattan Great Again
LUCAS HECKENBERGER
LEHIGH VALLEY’S COCKTAIL CONNOISSEUR
So, in our first foray into the world of spirits and cock- tails, we visited the haciendas of Mexico to talk about the origins of one of our favorite happy hour drinks; the margarita. In our next installment in the history of spirits and cocktails, we now visit the oldest vermouth driven cocktail: The Manhattan.
There is no doubt the Manhattan originated in one of the five boroughs of New York City, and I'll let your imagination run wild in guessing which one. But once again, we have a contentious origin story for the great American classic that has seen a boom in popularity in recent decades.
Some historians point to Jennie Jerome, the famous Lady Churchill (mother of Sir Winston Churchill) as someone who helped create the iconic drink. Some will say in 1874 during a party thrown for then-presidential hopeful Samuel J Tibbet at the Manhattan club, that this masterful pairing of Rye whiskey, vermouth, and aromatic bitters was created. Heck, many history books will attest to this as be- ing fact. However; David Wondrich per Imbibe! Magazine and notable author in cocktail history disputes this as fact.
According to Wondrich, during that time period, Lady Churchill was in England about to give birth to the great Sir Winston Churchill instead of galavanting at cocktail dinners trying to raise money for a presidential candidate. Instead, Wondrich points to William F. Mulhall; a bartend- er at the famed Hoffman House who applied his trade as a bartender for over thirty years as being someone who has the secret to the origins of this particular cocktail. According to Mulhall, a man who went by the name of “Black” (yes, that’s it) “who kept a place ten doors below Houston Street on Broadway in the 1860’s.”
Regardless of the origin of this American classic, it
predates any vermouth driven cocktails such as the Martini (YES, A PROPER MARTINI GETS VERMOUTH PEOPLE!), Martinez or Rob Roy. Alas, I digress. Another point of contention amongst bar aficionados is the pro- portions for a Manhattan in and of itself. Some will go the 2 1⁄2 ounces to 3⁄4 ounce vermouth ratio. Some prefer a Ca- nadian blended whiskey with little to no vermouth and no bitters. My standard recipe for a Manhattan is as follows:
2 ounces of Bourbon or Rye Whiskey (I prefer Rittenhouse 100 proof Rye made in Maryland)
1 ounce of Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica is without a doubt my favorite.)
3 dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters.
Add all three ingredients to a glass filled with ice and stir – never shake a drink with no citrus as it bruises the booze – and garnish with an orange twist (unless you have proper brandied cherries, no maraschinos in my bar please.)
Before I go onto some variations in the cocktail, let’s again take a look back through history to understand how cer- tain variations and taste profiles have come to be.
During prohibition, we as Americans obviously could not make (unless for medicinal purposes) any alcohol to be sold or consumed in the United States. That lead to backyard stills and sub-par alcohol. So, people looked to Canada as one of the leading exporters of actual distilled alcohol that helped add the authentic flavor that people were used to. So as that generation and the next came of drinking age, more and more Canadian whiskey was drank. Due to its charcoal filtered finish, it doesn't have the same "bite" in the finish as traditional American bourbon
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