The Manhattan was the most famous cocktail in the world shortly after it was invented in New York City’s Manhattan Club, some time around 1880 (as the story goes). Over the years, the whiskey classic has dipped in and out of fashion before finding its footing as one of the cornerstones of the craft cocktail renaissance.
Amazingly, the drink that socialites tipped to their lips in the 19th century looks and tastes pretty much the same as the one served today at any decent cocktail bar. The Manhattan’s mix of American whiskey and Italian vermouth, perked up with a few dashes of aromatic bitters, is timeless and tasty—the very definition of what a cocktail should be.
Early versions call for rye, with its spicier, edgier profile. Purists claim that it’s not a Manhattan without it, but who has ever had fun drinking with a purist? We find that bourbon creates a beautiful, if mellower, drink. And while Angostura bitters are a must in any variation, a single dash of orange bitters helps brighten the cocktail’s edges, bringing the whiskey and vermouth together seamlessly.