Classic cocktail: How to make a Manhattan

In its roughly 150-year lifespan, the Manhattan cocktail has certainly proven its mettle.

Photography: Alicia Taylor

Alicia Taylor

Said to have appeared in print for the first time in 1882, the Manhattan, a rye whiskey-based bracer, became enshrined in cocktail history in 1948, when David A. Embury listed it as one of six basic drinks in his hugely influential volume, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.

Much like the Martini, the Daiquiri and other similar benchmarks, it makes the most of minimal ingredients and a foolproof method – the key, no doubt, to an appeal that cuts across cultures and generations. It has also become something of a cocktail category in its own right, open to all manner of interpretation and reinvention.

Dominique Lentz, the co-owner of La Buvette in Adelaide, puts an effortless Gallic twist on the timeless tipple by swapping rye whisky for Cognac, keeping the sweet vermouth and mixing in orange liqueur. “Cognac makes it a smoother, rather more sophisticated cocktail,” he says, “with the liqueur adding depth and a citrusy element.”

The end result lands somewhere between the original Manhattan, a Sidecar and its precursor, the Brandy Crusta: complex, bright and very bewitching.

The French Manhattan

In a mixing glass, combine 35ml of Cognac, 35ml of sweet vermouth and 15ml of high-quality orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau. Add a dash of orange bitters, fill with ice and stir until well-chilled. Double strain into a Nick & Nora glass and garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

We suggest:

Raymond Ragnaud Sélection Cognac

Freshness is the watchword in Ragnaud’s Sélection, a younger blend of Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie. Peachy, lemony and vibrant.

$95 for 700ml

François Voyer Terres de Grande Champagne Cognac

This medium-bodied Cognac, aged between five and 15 years, brims with floral character and offers hints of vanilla and stone fruit.

$100.99 for 700ml

Dudognon VSOP Cognac

Scents of honey, woody spice and dried orchard fruits dominate here, and the sense of elegance speaks to a centuries-old distillation technique.

$118 for 700ml

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