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50 Drinks in 50 States: A Manhattan in New York

Got your Moscow Mules, Mint Juleps and Washington Apples perfected? Let’s head over to New York State, birthplace of the Manhattan (of course).

Home to Niagara Falls, the Catskills and Adirondacks, and of course, the city that never sleeps, the Empire State is famous for a lot of things. If you can’t make your way to the Big Apple, get a taste of big-city excitement from anywhere with a Manhattan cocktail. Made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, this classic drink is garnished with a Maraschino cherry for a sweet finish (recipe below!).

A True Classic

drinks states new york manhattan statue liberty

At over 100 years old, the Manhattan is one of the oldest modern cocktails still being served up in bars. It’s made with whiskey because of all the Rye whiskey distilleries in upstate New York before Prohibition.

While no one truly knows the origin of this drink, the most likely story is that it was invented by a bartender named Black in the 1860s. Another popular story claims that the drink was invented for an 1874 party thrown by Winston Churchill’s mother—but she was in England that year, so we’re gonna go out on a limb and say that’s not what happened.

The Recipe

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash bitters
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • Maraschino cherry

Place the ice in a mixing glass, followed by whiskey and vermouth. Stir until chilled, strain that mixture into a cocktail glass and add the bitters. Garnish with a cherry and you’re ready for a classy evening! (Or a relaxing afternoon.)

A Twist

drinks states new york manhattan cocktail

For a new take on this classic cocktail, try whipping up a Sidney Poitier:

  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Aztec chocolate bitters
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 amarena cherry

Just put the first four ingredients in a shaker, strain into a martini glass, and top with the cherry!

Photos: Brent Hofacker /, Andrey Bayda /, Bochkarev Photography /