By far the best seminar we attended at the Boston Cocktail Summit was I’ll Take Manhattan. The event was presented by Brother Cleve, a local bartender and cocktail consultant (and musician, composer, DJ, producer, and writer). He recently helped launch First Printer in Harvard Square and is currently working with the Colonial Tavern in Concord, MA to replicate the experience of going to a bar in colonial New England. We’re confident he’ll be pretty accurate, since he basically gave us a brief but complete history of alcohol.
We expected to learn about the Manhattan (which we did), but his cocktail history was much more thorough than that. Before we get into the evolution of the Manhattan, here are some highlights from his seminar:
- Distillation was first discovered by an Islamic person while trying to make eye
makeup. It was called alkool.
- Applejack, made by the pilgrims, was the first major spirit in the U.S.
- Vermouth was introduced to the United States around 1867/1868.
- The first dry Manhattan was introduced in 1906 in Lewis’s Mixed Drinks in Boston.
The vermouth part is obviously important here, since you need it to make a proper Manhattan. Throughout the presentation, he shared with us the original recipes of the Manhattan as it changed over time. The original version was supposedly created for a Manhattan Club party in 1874, when Lady Jennie Jerome threw a party for then New York governor Samuel Tilden. No one knows how true this story is, since Jennie Jerome was in England getting ready to give birth to Winston Churchill at the time. Other possibilities, according to Brother Cleve, is that William Mulhall of the Hoffman House or William Black, who ran a bar on the Bowery may have created it. Following are the recipes for the different Manhattans over time.
1884: How to Mix Drinks (the Bon Vivant’s Companion) by Jerry Thomas
1 oz. whiskey
1 oz. vermouth
1-2 dashes gum syrup
2-3 dashes Peruvian bitters
1891: Modern Bartender’s Guide by O. H. Byron
½ oz. whiskey
1 pony (1 oz.) French vermouth
1 dash gum syrup
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
1905: Hoffman House Bartender’s Guide
equal parts whiskey and vermouth
1-2 dashes orange bitters
1-2 dashes curacao
1 dash gum syrup
absinthe if desired
garnish with lemon peel
1914: Drinks by Jacques Straub
2 oz. whiskey
1 oz. Italian vermouth
From there, a number of circumstances prevented people from drinking a good Manhattan, such as Prohibition, James Bond making the martini popular, and people drinking crappy cocktails in the 1970s and ’80s, until the craft cocktail movement took off again in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Brother Cleve made us a few of these variations to sample, and the final Manhattan he made for us was the Black Manhattan.
2 oz. bourbon
1 ½ oz. Punt y Mes vermouth
½ oz. Amaro Averna
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
There Will Be Bourbon is headed to the Boston Cocktail Summit.
Here are some outtakes from our numerous blog photoshoots.
Here’s a friendly reminder that today is the final day to vote for There Will Be Bourbon for Best Cocktail Blog at Saveur.
Also, this is a good opportunity to say hello and thank you to all of the new readers and Tumblr followers who’ve joined us since we were nominated. We appreciate your support.
We don’t often like tooting our own horns, but we can’t help it this time. Yesterday, Saveur revealed the nominees for the 3rd Annual Best Food Blog Awards. We feel incredibly honored to be one of the six nominees for Best Cocktail Blog. Saveur’s Twitter account says they chose the 96 nominees (over 16 categories) from almost 40,000 submissions, so we are elated to be have been selected. Click on the picture or this link to vote for us. You have to register first to keep people from voting a billion times. Check out the other blogs too—they are all great—but vote for us obviously because bourbon is the most delicious thing ever.
And finally, happy weekending!
For last night’s season premier of Mad Men we felt some pressure to find just the right cocktail recipe that was both appropriate for the occasion and that would be new to us. Voilà, the union club cocktail.
2 oz. bourbon
½ oz. maraschino liqueur
½ oz. Campari
1-1½ oz. orange juice
Mix all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry and/or orange twist.
Remember season 3, episode 8 when Don and Betty go to Rome? This cocktail fits right in with that trip as two of its three spirits are made in Italy, though the star—bourbon—is American. We also loved how this cocktail’s densely cloudy orange character looks straight out of a 1960s color palette.
Needless to say, this drink is delicious, if a bit different from what one may expect from a bourbon cocktail. The cherry and orange fruit flavors mix well with bourbon’s vanilla spice notes. (It helped that we used Old Weller Antique, which has a strong enough dose of spice to stand up to the fruit.) The bitterness is more subtle but becomes evident through the finish.
This cocktail is apparently named after the Union Club, a gambling establishment founded in Seattle by Wyatt Earp in 1899. Though this recipe seems a little fussy for that kind of club, we do think the mini history tie-in is interesting.
Last week we posted this Oregon Chai Bourbon Cocktail that Rachel made for us. We’ve compiled some of the best name suggestions we received, and now you can decide what we should call it. Relevant info: BC = Bourbon Chai and 503 is a Portland, OR area code. Voting will remain open until Sunday night.