Big-City Sippin'

Making a Manhattan. 

As colder temperatures become the seasonal norm, there is a noticeable shift in the consumption of spirits, from clear liquors such as vodka, gin, and tequila to darker ones such a rye, bourbon, and scotch. With that shift come some classic cocktails, like the Manhattan.

The Manhattan is a great recipe not only because of its taste, but also because it’s simple. Many people assume that the name of the cocktail is derived based from its ingredients, which require two parts whiskey, one part sweet vermouth, and two parts bitters. That number sequence—2-1-2—was the original telephone area code for the borough of Manhattan in New York City.

While it makes for a good story and an easy way to remember the recipe, the 2-1-2 nomenclature is not the origin for the name of this classic drink. The most commonly accepted history is that the drink was invented at the Manhattan Club in New York City during the 1870s. A man named Dr. Iain Marshall created the drink for a banquet hosted by then-presidential candidate Samuel Tilden. At least one other version on the history of the drink indicates that it was created at a bar near Broadway and Houston in the 1860s by a bartender called “Black.” Regardless of who created the drink, it truly is great, and very easy to make. It also pairs well with brilliant autumn sunsets, viewed from the tailgate after a bike ride or day of fishing.

A new Montana whiskey that was just released will be a great base for this drink. Running Iron Whiskey, bottled by Dry Hills Distillery, is a 100% straight wheat Montana whiskey. This whiskey was originally created in Montana’s oldest post-prohibition whiskey distillery. At 90 proof, it’s a bottle to consider adding to your “tasting list.”

2 oz Running Iron whiskey, or similar
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes bitters, such as Angostura

Place all ingredients in a shaker with ice and mix vigorously. Strain into glass and add cherries. It’s that easy.

Mark Lewis co-owns Montana Spirits in Bozeman with his wife Dawn.