Popular history suggests that the drink originated at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the mid 1870s, where it was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston) 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, Lady Randolph was in France at the time and pregnant, so the story is likely a fiction.
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.
During Prohibition (1920–1933) Canadian whisky was primarily used because it was available.
Recipe for ‘Manhattan’
- 6cl of Rye Whiskey
- 3cl of Sweet Red Vermouth
- 1 dash of Angostura Bitter
- Garnish: Cherry
Stirred over ice, strained into a chilled glass, add garnish and serve.