A classic among classics: the Manhattan

Welcome back, dear guests! After a rather long absence and some semi-holidays, Charly’s Bar is re-opening its doors. Tonight let us talk about another classic, this one American: the Manhattan. Invented in New York City in the early 1870s, this drink is one of the archetypical cocktails, mixed by bartenders all around the planet. It is, as many classics, a drink for early or late evenings, to be enjoyed and savored in the crowd of a bar.

Though many variations have been elaborated along the years, the classic recipe goes as follows:

  • 2oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 5 drops of Angostura bitters
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Add all the ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir it for 10 to 15seconds, depending on how strong you wish your drink to be (note that traditionally, the Manhattan is usually stirred, never shaken). Strain the resulting mix in a previously chilled cocktail glass – without ice. For the final touch, garnish your cocktail with the maraschino cherry. Voila!

A very common variation on the recipe consists in replacing Rye Whiskey with bourbon or Canadian whisky. The Manhattan, overall, is a cocktail open to improvisation in its elaboration – you are free to bring variations and nuances to its basic flavour. A fellow bartender in Toronto recently showed his own Canadian version, adding maple syrup and a bacon strip to the original mix for a quite pleasant sugary and salty taste. Once, again, as for many cocktails, the result all depends on your creativity and inspiration…

A Canadian Manhattan in Toronto – Photo Charles-Antoine Dubois

2 thoughts on “A classic among classics: the Manhattan

    1. The tradition dates back to the early years of cocktails – i.e. the early 1900s. Ice cubes used at the time were unfortunately not always made of the cleanest and purest water. Shaking (and therefore diluting) your cocktail would at the time put a bartender at risk of having foam appearing at the top of his drink… Something that, beyond the obvious esthetical issue, would definitely dilute down the taste of the cocktail. As for why it is still in practice nowadays, practice has showed that shaking together liquors of very different taste – such as the bitters and whiskey – has a tendency to neutralize the taste of these components. Stirring will do the trick of mixing the components, while preserving their original taste, in a true cocktail of flavours.


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