House Made Podcast

Episode #21 - The History Of The Manhattan

June 07, 2021 House Made Season 1 Episode 21
House Made Podcast
Episode #21 - The History Of The Manhattan
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House Made Podcast
Episode #21 - The History Of The Manhattan
Jun 07, 2021 Season 1 Episode 21
House Made

In this episode we look back in history to learn about who really invented the Manhattan and when it was created.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we look back in history to learn about who really invented the Manhattan and when it was created.

Speaker 1:

This is the housemaid podcast. We're your hosts, John Vieira and Nick bobbin. We're going to cover your questions about home bartending. So let's get into it.

Speaker 2:

What's up guys , uh, back again today with another episode of housemate podcast today, we wanted to talk about the history, if you can really call it that of the Manhattan. Um, we had talked before about the martini and it was really interesting and we kind of drew some lines to some different cocktails and some different origin stories with some of that. And today's going to be kind of like that. Uh , there's a lot of hearsay. There's a lot of people that claim to have come up with this drink and nobody really knows. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

So probably one of the biggest stories that you see everywhere that's now known to be false or widely accepted to be false, is that the Manhattan club in New York, sometime in 1874, had a party for a one lady , uh, Randolph Churchill, which is , uh, apparently , uh , Mr. Winston Churchill's mother , uh, was attending and they made this cocktail called the Manhattan. And it was so wildly popular that it just spread like wildfire from there. However, has a Dave one rich , so kindly points out. Um, the

Speaker 2:

Lady Churchill was actually

Speaker 3:

In England about to give birth to little Winston himself at this current, at that, that point in time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Probably not partying in New York. Yeah . Whatever . She may have still been enjoying Manhattans while she was pregnant, because that definitely was, yeah, that was a thing. Uh, but she wouldn't have been doing it in New York, so yeah, that was kind of debunked. Um, so what's, what's the , um, what's the more common well, so

Speaker 3:

Yeah , so the accepted truth of the matter is, is considerably boring. Um, it was a bartender who goes by black, who was from the Hoffman house, which was very close to this , uh, Manhattan club sometime in the 1880s , uh, invented this cocktail and everybody liked it. And it just kind of did what cocktail stuff does and just spread like wildfire. Well, there you go.

Speaker 2:

I think it's, it's significant to note that, especially in New York, there wasn't nearly as many clubs and as much influence and stuff like that as there probably are nowadays within city limits. So yeah,

Speaker 3:

But still for like New York in the world at that point in time was that was a huge influence. Oh,

Speaker 2:

For sure. I just mean that there was probably a lot of crosstalk between anyone that was running bars or working together. Right. So say you have a couple of drinks one day and you're telling your buddy, you're like, Aw , man, I came up with this really great drink. I think people are going to love it. I'm calling it this. Guess what? That guy probably took that same injury, which is funny because you start to see these names pop up. Um, you know, the, the Manhattan came out , uh, in the 1880s, but there was also other names that people were calling it. So there was like the turf club cocktail and the jockey cocktail, things like that, which were all very, very similar as , you know, versions of the same thing,

Speaker 3:

Which yeah, cause , uh, what was the, one of the first publications of the actual recipe was in it? Wasn't Jerry Thomas' book. It was somebody else in like eight, it was 1882, 1882, but it had like a dash of absent than it. Right.

Speaker 2:

Uh, yeah. So what I wrote down was , uh, 1882, this article comes out by the Sunday morning Herald. Oh , um,

Speaker 3:

Maybe this isn't what I was thinking about. And ,

Speaker 2:

Uh , the ingredients were mentioned in the article, but it was pretty vague. It wasn't necessarily like , uh , like a recipe that was kind of just mentioned of the drink. Okay. Um, so the ingredients were mentioned and the name Manhattan cocktail. Um, but like we were just saying, there was also mention of like the jockey club cocktail turf club cocktail,

Speaker 3:

Which were literally the same cocktail as far as we know. Yeah. Um, okay. So for anybody that doesn't know, I , Manhattan cocktail is , um, whiskey sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters. So it's like, it's like the brown spirited version of a martini. Yeah. Almost like kind of yin and yang almost. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Uh, w which, which is interesting to note because there was two years later, so in 1884 , uh, it was the first detailed recipe of the cocktail that was actually like printed. And it was an O H Byron's the modern bartender's guide.

Speaker 3:

Oh, that's the one I was thinking about. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So it was really interesting cause there was actually two different versions printed , uh , variations of it . And one of them actually used the French or the driver Muth instead of the sweet vermouth. So this recipe here, it says one pony of French vermouth, which they , they measured things oddly back then. Yeah .

Speaker 3:

Yeah. They measured them in , uh , I think a pony is a ounce.

Speaker 2:

Uh , half wine glass was probably like two ounces and then a wine glass was like four ounces or something. Uh , it's kinda old school, like Jerry Thomas stuff, if you've ever looked at that, but it says one pony, a French vermouth, one pony of whiskey. And it doesn't say if it's rye or bourbon or anything else like that just as whiskey , uh , three to four dashes of Angostura bitters and then three dashes of gum syrup. Oh, that's what it was. He had gum , uh, which is , which was really common back then. So it's not a , it's just weird to see the French vermouth in there. And so the sweet , uh , but then the other , uh, published recipe was one wine glass of whiskey, one wine glass of Italian vermouth,

Speaker 3:

Which would have been the sweet vermouth. Right.

Speaker 2:

And quite a bit larger ratios too . Um, two dashes of Angostura and then two dashes of Curacao, a weird. And then later, a few years later there was another recipe. Um, that man, I can't remember what that one came out in. Uh, but it mentions the addition of some dashes of absence and orange bitters. Actually it omitted the angle for orange and said like anything. Yeah. And it's in its infancy, it's it went through some changes. There was, you know, people kind of drinking them in different ways.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Which I guess lens wins the , the history back to this gentleman named black , um, being the one to actually invent it for no reason other than just to invent the cocktail and then it just morphed as other people ripped them off more or less. Yeah. Essentially. Um, I will say though that , uh, everywhere that I can find is saying that rye whiskey was the primary use in it. Yeah . Until prohibition hit and then Canadian was the primary just because it was , you never get yep . And then it never really recovered from there, then it was whatever you want.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Um, that recipe, I was just referencing, I just found it is , um, it's Harry Johnson's 1900 bartenders manual. Um, that specific recipe was a half wine glass of whiskey. Okay . Half glass of vermouth, literally doesn't say which one , one dash of Curacao or absinthe one to two dashes of orange bitters and then one to two dashes of gum syrup. Hmm . Um, so it goes through plenty of changes. It's not unusual to see this things aren't documented very well. And these recipes are not Uber specific because back in the day, if it said whiskey, you just used whatever it was, you , you didn't necessarily have the ability to get different stuff. So , um, I thought that was kind of interesting. And I did also see that , um, thing about the widespread use of Canadian whiskey.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And during prohibition, I will say this , um, I, when I got married, I had an abundance of Jack Daniels leftover and vermouth actually sweet vermouth. And I thought I would make a Manhattan. Those two don't go together. It literally tastes like , like weird rancid, peanut butter. It was so nasty.

Speaker 2:

Jack Daniels has such a very specific taste and it's not what I would call like a good flavor for mixing in a cocktail. It's I think it's that charcoal filtering it. It just gives it like a , there's a weird Tang to it. Yeah. It's great. When you

Speaker 3:

Put it with like Coke or you put it in eliminate or something like that, but putting it with other spirits definitely

Speaker 2:

Has that flavor because even as a lower proofs, I'm not going to call it low proof, but it's not an over proof spirit. So it's just, I'm pretty sure it's just 40% percent. Right. Um, it's still really comes through, like if you mix it with Coke, you can taste like, yeah, I got some Jack Daniels in there. Like it's a taste thing. Oh yeah. Um, will you hand me that bottle of pineapple roam ? I definitely want to drink that. Yup . Uh, so one thing that I thought was kind of , uh, similar to when we were talking about the martini was the variation of the ratios. If you start to look at some of these early recipes that come out, a lot of them are like that 50 50, or that one to one kind of thing, which makes sense a little bit lower ABV um, you could sit down and have three of them at lunch and not have to crawl to your car. Exactly. But you do start to see those ratios change over time and, you know, the addition of, of different types of whiskey and things like that. Um, so that definitely happens. And I think very similarly to the martini, I think nowadays in modern times , uh, I think you're seeing that , that ratio go back more toward a wetter ratio. So using more of your

Speaker 3:

Mood . Yeah. I will. I will say for me, I, I super love 50 50 Martinez . I've really liked the driver move and, but for a Manhattan, I still super like the whisky. I very much am like four to one for whiskey to one roommate .

Speaker 2:

Yeah . And I think it depends on the whiskey you're using in the vermouth you're using. This is true. Yeah . Yeah. Uh , I think I told you this when I very first started working at craft , a Manhattan was one of my favorite cocktails and was still one of mine. Yeah. Yeah. It still is. But , uh, it was kind of , it was eye opening to start looking over the drinks that we were making a craft , because up until that point, I'm not convinced that I'd ever had a really good one. I had gone to like, you know, like Chris, his dad's house and that I do have a drink is like, you fill the glass with booze and then you sprinkle something on

Speaker 3:

Top of it and the sprinkles, usually ice or something. Right.

Speaker 2:

Um, or Coke or things like that. And , and, and don't get me wrong. I love that, but it's not what I would call a cocktail. And then other places, you know, where like the vermouth is nasty. And so it was kind of revolutionary to go in and , and take a cocktail that I already really liked. Yeah . And then to have a version of it, that was a lot more consistent that I was like, oh yeah, I really like this. And that ratio being two and a half ounces of rye whiskey to three quarter rounds of the sweet vermouth. But on that note, I went home after, I don't know, probably the first month of working there and I was like, man, make some Manhattans. Uh, so I bought, I bought some really nice sweet vermouth. I bought the Carpano Antica, which is fantastic.

Speaker 3:

Good . It's so Jamey and pungent. It just comes dude. Oh, it's so sweet. I love it. It kicked the out of the whiskey . I didn't , I didn't expect it. No , it does. It does. But that's like sometimes you're in the mood for that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. W which is fine. I just, I didn't, I didn't expect it. I'd never used sweet vermouth that had that big of balls on it. You never in a million years think that your sweet vermouth is going to walk on your whisky . Um, so it was just, it was really strange, but , uh, it kind of taught me two things. It taught me that the sweet vermouth really, really matters in your mix. And that I really like sweet vermouth on its own because I drank the rest of that bottle, literally just on the baths , which is great. It was fantastic. Um, but no, I just thought that was really cool. And then of course , uh , alongside with the concept of ratios changing over time, you also have these variations of the Manhattan that are pretty well known, right? Like , so things like the robbery yup .

Speaker 3:

Which is switching out like a blended scotch for your whiskey.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So instead of doing like a rye whiskey or something, a lot of people really like bourbon. You stick that scotch

Speaker 3:

In there, and that becomes a Rob Roy. And

Speaker 2:

It's delicious because blended scotch is really smooth, but you can also put a little bit of that, like a peated scotch in there, if you like that kind of that PV smokiness to it. Oh , that's fantastic.

Speaker 3:

Um, or a black Manhattan. Those are super popular for us.

Speaker 2:

My favorite. So if you guys have not ever had , um, a Verna before, it's a V E R N a, it's an Italian , um, Amaro . Yaro . Yeah .

Speaker 3:

Hola like almost, but like sweet. Yeah . Yeah.

Speaker 2:

It has a , it has almost like a, like a subtle coffee bean or like a Cola it's it's got this really like rich thing to it . And it's about the same sweetness as removed. So it's not crazy over the top, like sweetness, but it does have a sweetness.

Speaker 3:

Yep . Uh, they call it a black Manhattan. Cause you're changing out this black spirit. Right . Verna the vermouth.

Speaker 2:

Right. And it makes it quite a bit darker. And it's amazing if you haven't tried one

Speaker 3:

Of those yeah. Pairs perfectly with right. Whiskey .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. It's super good. But you also have , um, gosh, what is the name of that? Uh, so it's essentially, it's a cognac Manhattan. The Harvard cocktail. No , I have it . I bet you it's delicious. It's pretty good. I mean, it's way smoother than other versions of it, but I mean, it's , it's delicious. Um, and then just, I mean, there's a , there's a couple of diversions , right? There's people that like , um, perfect Manhattans. So that would be equal parts , uh , driver Muth and sweet vermouth in your

Speaker 3:

Shoe, which those are really good. They're pretty good. She never had one. I would venture you to try it.

Speaker 2:

You've also got a dry Manhattans , which is essentially just like that. Yeah . Risk driver

Speaker 3:

Instead of spearmint , which is kind of funny because in the Manhattan realm, if you asked for a dry Manhattan, you're not going to get one, that's just whiskey . Right. You just asked for whiskey on the rocks, I guess at that point, when you asked her a dry Manhattan, you're going to get one with driver Muth instead.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . That's kind of counterintuitive because when you ask for a dry

Speaker 3:

Martini, you're asking for less ordinary removes . Yeah . Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I'm still, I'm still very curious. And we haven't, I don't know if anyone technically knows the answer to this, but I'm still really curious, which cocktail came first, the Manhattan, the Martinez or the martini. I think this is a Martinez. That's what I've always thought. The research that we did for the martini episode kind of reached a little bit more toward like the Manhattan being like the Manhattan was what? 18, 1880s. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And one was the Martinez. Martinez was like a Dutch Geneva one. Wasn't it like 16 something 17, maybe. I don't think it was that far back. Okay. Well it's still 18 something

Speaker 2:

It's possible that people were drinking. That the biggest question is when, which I think was around the same time around the , uh , late 18 hundreds , uh , when did that vermouth become available? Okay. Right . That's fair. Yeah . Because whether you're talking about sweet or dry vermouth and the reason why people were thinking it was either the Martinez or the Manhattan. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

Italian sweet vermouth was easier to get at the time than French driver mode .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. At one point in American history, it was the only vermouth we had access to. We didn't even have the dry. And so that's the reason why, well,

Speaker 3:

It kind of makes sense when you're talking about the , uh, what was that Kodiak bug. Yeah . Oh , uh , phylloxera, F yeah. F phylloxera walks around or something. Yeah . All the wine crop in France. And that was the 1860s, 1870s, I think. Uh , I have the date. Let me look here , look it up. It was

Speaker 2:

A so 1875 sometime between that 1888 .

Speaker 3:

So then I guess it would have to be the Martinez or the Manhattan then right over before the martini. And

Speaker 2:

It could have been , uh , the thing that we were learning, if you, if you didn't listen to that episode, the thing that we kind of learned on that episode was that it was very unclear because a lot of , uh, a lot of menus, I guess, if you went into a club somewhere or a restaurant and they were serving that drink is they would offer whatever they were calling it. They would offer two versions of it, one with whiskey or one with gin. Cause that was really what people were drinking at the time in America is they were like, yeah, we got whiskey. Or we got gin. So which version of this drink do you want? So it seemed like they were almost

Speaker 3:

The same kind of the same. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So, I mean, we'll probably never know. And we were citing , uh, some , uh, Dave [inaudible] , uh, research, which if anyone knows this , guy's got to know. And so , uh , I mean, just based on what we read, it's really hard to say, but the moral of the story is that these are really great classics. And so we wanted to dip into kind of the history of it and just see where it's coming from and why.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. It's , it's kind of interesting. The whole like cocktail, actual like culture and all that stuff literally starts in like, I don't know, 1850s and was like, pretty much, most of it's set in stone by like 1910. Yeah. And then there's a handful that evolve through there and up to current day. But like most of these drinks, that's the time timeframe they're coming out of, which is crazy.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And I think it was really when the documentation was starting to take place. So a lot of these like bartender manuals and things like that were actually like being printed now, whether or not the information that was in there is true. No one .

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I mean, that's also when like the United States started a boom from continent to continent and it wasn't just a handful of colony is on the, you know, on the east coast. Yeah. Cause what was the gold rush was like 1849. Yeah. I think it was when everybody took off to San Francisco and stuff. And I don't know how long of a timeframe with

Speaker 2:

That like gold rush scene. I don't know like how long that was taking place, but definitely 49 was. Yeah .

Speaker 3:

Well I was just thinking, cause like this is, it's all just, sorry. It's all around the same time from that people are expanding out to , and more people are flooding into the United States at that point, especially places like New York. Right. Right . And so you're getting a lot more,

Speaker 2:

It's basically a big drunk game of telephone. That's that's what

Speaker 3:

Cocktail history is. So it's,

Speaker 2:

It's funny and it's interesting, but like you're definitely not going to , you're not going to get the answer like this drink could have been invented simultaneously by three different people in three different parts of the world at the same time for all we know. And just, and just no , none of them got credit cause nobody was, you know, going to this guy's house and

Speaker 3:

Drinking this drink. Yeah, absolutely. So

Speaker 2:

There's no way to really know, but it is still interesting to look into , um, if there's any cocktail history or anything like that that you guys would like to hear about. Um, just send us a message. Um, we'll, we'll definitely go through and look into it. We're kind of just going off the cuff these days with information , take a stab at it. I think that people might want to learn, you know,

Speaker 3:

One of her episodes we should do the history of Angostura.

Speaker 2:

That would be cool. Yeah. Yeah. How long have those guys been around

Speaker 3:

Long time? I don't know. I can do a quick Google search here to tell ya . It's definitely been a while there in the 18 somethings to , uh, or maybe even longer

Speaker 2:

You guys at home that are making these drinks. Maybe have never tried some of these drinks. Like if you've never had a Manhattan , um, really easy to make, you don't need a whole bunch of ingredients and we have all these recipes posted on house-made syrup.com. So if you guys want to go there and check out the blog section, there's a bunch of recipes. Um , maybe just try some stuff out and you know, just as you listen along these episodes, just kind of see if there's anything that really resonates with you.

Speaker 3:

It says , uh, 1824 and it was invented by the surgeon general for Venezuela 1824.

Speaker 4:

Wow. That's pretty good .

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So if anybody doesn't know what Angostura bitters are, they're the weird , um, little bitters bottles they're sold in almost every grocery store. There are a black bottle, bright yellow cap and an oversized label. So the label actually goes up over the neck of the bottle. And so if it's been handled or fondled, it looks like literal crap, but

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a really weird label design. It definitely, it looks like maybe the first label they ever printed was an accident.

Speaker 3:

That's the common, that's the common belief. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Somebody was just like too prideful to be like, oh, we should definitely make this smaller. And they were like, Nope , I meant it to be this way.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Or they're like, they did their first label around in there and the 20,000 labels were not tempered by the time it ran out, they're like, well, this is us now. What if

Speaker 2:

It was cheaper just to get that many labels in that size. And they were going to have to cut them by hand and they were like,

Speaker 3:

Yeah , just put it on there. This is very possible. I don't know.

Speaker 2:

Anyway, Angostura bitters are amazing. And they're a huge, huge staple in some of these classic cocktails.

Speaker 3:

Well, think about this in 1824, if that's, when it came out, by the time it hit the United States, probably in the next 10 to 20 years, ish, after that them and like pay shots, there was like one of the only bitters probably around which is why those two bitters are in everything or I guess orange, but I think it's probably cause Anglo made it or

Speaker 2:

Angle makes an orange. I don't know when those ones came out, orange bitters are, they're way more common. A lot of different brands make orange , orange bitters, because they're not, when you look at bitters , there's two different kinds of essentially there's, there's a binding and lifting. And so things like orange bitters that are really light they're , they're really nice in drinks, but they , they aren't acting as the glue for that cocktail. So they're just like an additive on top. They're just there to just make it like extra nice. You know, the , the Angostura bitters, if you've ever tried to drink a Manhattan or an old fashioned without the anger , you're like lost, something's wrong here. It's one of the three ingredients. So you can't be without it. Um, but anyway, maybe, gosh, maybe we should talk about bitters .

Speaker 3:

That would be a good one. Yeah. Talk about bitters as a whole. Yeah . And how,

Speaker 2:

How you guys at home can make your own.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah. It's super easy because I will say this, there are, [inaudible] expensive to produce, so they're crazy expensive to buy and like buy crazy expensive. I mean it's time consuming and the ingredients are kind of expensive. Like you to make it on your own at home is fun. And you probably won't think about that, but that's why you go in like a four ounce bottle of bitters is like 15 , uh , $20. You're like, oh my goodness. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, thankfully you don't have to use that much of it. So it sure it stretches. Well,

Speaker 3:

It's just like our bitters because we started making betters now. And I was like, I'm not going to charge $14 for a bottle of bitters. I'm going to be the dude that charges like eight bucks jokes on me cost more than $8 to me . Like a bottle of bitters. Yes. It's definitely. Well , I guess I do not. It's the only , not cheap,

Speaker 2:

But it is cheaper for you to make them at home and it is super easy. It was kind of fun. Cause then he can experiment and you put these, these different , um, you know, recipes together and there's so much stuff on the internet too. So it's not like you're starting blind. Like you can look up some recipes to start know there's

Speaker 3:

Literally a book called bitters and it just has bitters recipes in it. Right .

Speaker 2:

Which we should probably, we do have a copy of that at the bar. We should probably just like reference that in an episode and just kind of dive into it. Cool. Well, yeah, like I said, if there's anything that you guys , uh , specifically want to learn or want to hear about just , uh, hit us up, just let us know, send us a direct message or an email. Um, all of this information is on the website. So just go to house-made syrup.com, check out the blogs and the recipes, and then just drop us a line if , uh, if you have any comments or questions, concerns about stuff. If you want to call us names,

Speaker 3:

Whatever. Yeah. Whatever we would like just anybody to say hi. Yeah, wait a couple, couple of like, I don't know, probably four or five weeks ago reach out and nothing sense .

Speaker 2:

Well, that's , I mean, it's, it's a good thing. Cause you don't necessarily want people reaching out all the time, telling you that what you're doing sucks. We don't have a lot of that, which I'm thankful for, but it is helpful to have the input because you know, we're, we're kind of just trying to line up all these concepts for what, what everybody would be interested in fully. So with that, if you have any ideas or suggestions , um, man,

Speaker 3:

Just let us know up. Alright , cheers guys. We'll catch you next week. Cheers. [inaudible] .