Skip to content
Pursuits
Drinks

The Manhattan Cocktail: A Complete Guide to Its Myths and Mixology

Bartenders across America are witnessing a surge in its popularity and are mixing many different versions. Here's the heritage you may not know.
The Manhattan cocktail served at Westlight at the William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn.

The Manhattan cocktail served at Westlight at the William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn.

Photographer: Evan Ortiz/Bloomberg

One recent cocktail hour in Manhattan, I bellied up to the bar at Porchlight, the Danny Meyer bar on 11th Avenue, beneath the ascendant superblocks of Hudson Yards. Nick Bennett, the head bartender, was behind the stick mixing a Manhattan cocktail.

Put another way: Bennett was standing amid the jagged spires that will symbolize this century in the borough’s life, stirring a drink that has encapsulated its glamour since the 1880s. That’s when a newspaper in tiny Olean, N.Y., introduced this "mixture of whiskey, vermouth, and bitters" to the journalistic record.