Manhattan Cocktail & Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipes, History - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures Manhattan Cocktail & Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipes, History
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COCKTAILS: Classic Bourbon Recipes For Mad Men

On Sunday, March 25th at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central Time), millions of Americans will tune in to the 1960s, with the new season of “Mad Men.”

The show has inspired (and licensed) a Mad Men clothing line from Banana Republic and a Mad Men cosmetics line from Estée Lauder.

But what about Mad Men spirits? Those ad agency folk seemed to spend more time drinking than shopping for clothes and makeup.

Our recommendation: Settle down with a good bottle of Bourbon, like Maker’s Mark, and enjoy a couple of cocktails that surely would have been enjoyed by the staff of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

Both the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned use maraschino cherries. Back in the day, before the advent of high fructose corn syrup, they probably tasted a lot better.

But there’s one premium brand of maraschino cherries to please picky palates, made by specialty food producer Tillen Farms. You can buy it online. The maraschinos are delicious, and a perfect gift for your favorite cocktail hound.

The drink is made with whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters, and served straight up. The whiskey choice varies across the board: blended whiskey, Bourbon, Canadian whisky (spelled without the “e”), rye (the traditional choice) and Tennessee whiskey have all been used.

  • 1-1/2 parts Bourbon
  • 1/2 part sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters
  • 1 teaspoon maraschino cherry juice
  • Garnish: maraschino cherry

    1. SHAKE the first four ingredients together with ice for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled Manhattan glass (Martini glass).

    2. GARNISH with a maraschino cherry.

    [1] A Manhattan cocktail (photo © Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse).

    [2] A premium Bourbon, Maker’s Mark is hand-dipped in red wax to signify its artisan origins. Photo courtesy Maker’s Mark.

    Manhattan Cocktail History

    The origin of the Manhattan isn’t known for certain, but it is widely believed to have originated in the late 19th century.

    One reference claims that the Manhattan was invented in the 1860s by the bartender of an establishment on Broadway near Houston Street in Manhattan. A number of printed references date to that time.

    Another theory attributes the creation of the cocktail to a bartender named Jerry Thomas at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the 1870s. The drink was allegedly created for a banquet hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill (mother of Winston Churchill) in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden.

    In its early days, the Manhattan used different types of spirits, including rye and Bourbon.

    Over time, the recipe evolved to include sweet vermouth along with the whiskey and bitters. This addition helped balance the drink and added depth to its flavor profile.

    The cocktail gained popularity during the Prohibition era (1920-1933) when the quality of available spirits was not always the best. The sweet vermouth and bitters helped to cover up less than pristine whiskey.

    The Manhattan is traditionally served in a cocktail glass and is often garnished with a cherry. The choice of cherry can vary, with some preferring maraschino cherries and others opting for more traditional bourbon-soaked cherries.


    [3] The Old Fashioned is one of six classic cocktails, along with the Gin and Tonic, Manhattan, Martini, Mint Julep and Whiskey Sour (photo © Cotton Bro | Pexels).

    One of the original classic cocktails (see photo #3), the Old Fashioned is both strong and sweet.

    The original recipe had neither club soda nor a maraschino cherry, but both ingredients became popular over the years.

    As fashion is always changing, the original garnish, a maraschino cherry is no longer popular and some bartenders no longer serve them.

    (They became unpopular with the trending consumer awareness of, and avoidance of, artificial ingredients and food coloring—although they’re still used in other cocktails, including the Manhattan.)

    Thus, an orange peel is now a common garnish (and it’s tasty to nibble on, too).

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • 2 orange slices
  • 2 maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 parts Bourbon
  • Optional: 1/2 part club soda

    1. Muddle 1 orange slice, 1 maraschino cherry, bitters and the sugar in an Old Fashioned (rocks) glass. Fill glass 3/4 full of ice.

    2. Add Bourbon and splash of club soda. Garnish with additional orange slice and maraschino cherry. For a more impressive garnish, you can fix the cherry to the top of the orange slice with a toothpick.

    If bitters and maraschino cherries are not your thing, you can find many Bourbon cocktail recipes at
    Manhattan Cocktail History

    The Old Fashioned is one of the oldest known cocktails, with roots tracing back to the early 19th century, with its first mention dating to the early 1800s.

    One popular story attributes the creation of the Old Fashioned to the The Pendennis Club, a gentlemen’s club in Louisville, Kentucky, claims to be the birthplace of the Old Fashioned.

    As the story goes, a bartender at the club, James E. Pepper, created the drink in the late 19th century. It is said that he made the cocktail for a customer who wanted a drink made the “old-fashioned way,” leading to the name.

    However, there are no clear records as to when the cocktail was invented.

    Re “the old-fashioned way”: In the early 19th century, the term “cocktail” was not as specific as it is today. It generally referred to a combination of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters. The Old Fashioned is essentially a refined version of this original cocktail concept (the history of the cocktail).

    Purportedly, a club member who was a Bourbon distiller brought the recipe to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.

    While the specifics of the creation story may be elusive, what is clear is that the Old Fashioned has a long and storied history, and is one of the classic cocktails enjoyed today around the world.
    > Find more of our favorite cocktail recipes by pulling down the food categories menu on the upper right.


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