Manhattan Ė a Drinking Manís Cocktail
According to a popular version, the Manhattan cocktail was invented in the early 1870's for a banquet held in the Manhattan Club (New York) in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden by Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of British prime minister Winston Churchill). The banquet was very successful and the drink became popular and fashionable. It was often requested by the name of the club where it was originated - "The Manhattan cocktail".
However, some researchers state that similar drinks were known in the Manhattan area decades before that banquet; above that some of them were actually called "Manhattan", too. Nevertheless, experts agree that Jerome/Tilden event summarized all of them and actually made Manhattan cocktail what it is now.
Even though the original recipe called for bitters, they are often omitted by bartenders nowadays. Purists, however, claim that bitters are needed to offset the sweetness of the vermouth and whiskey. Some variations need orange bitters to be substituted for the Angostura bitters; others call for additional cherry juice or Maraschino liquor for more sweetness and color. Another thing is to use more vermouth and less whiskey to create a milder Manhattan. However, this can actually make the drink taste stronger to some drinkers because of the intense flavor of sweet red vermouth.
So basically, to make a Manhattan you just need to mix some whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters to taste. Proportions of whiskey to vermouth can be anywhere from 1:1 (considered "sweet") to 4:1 (considered "dry"). Classic mixture is 2:1 though. The cocktail is often served with ice in a cocktail glass garnished with a Maraschino cherry with a stem. You can also serve a Manhattan on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass.
The Manhattan is often called a drinking man's cocktail since it is "strong, urbane and simple". However, it has not achieved the popularity of the more widely known martini.