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Manhattan cocktail

Seeking out the ultimate example of the eponymous drink of the world’s most glamorous island


Ever since the irst Dutch settlers disembarked and toasted the end of their gruelling journey with whatever alcohol was left in the hold, the city’s inhabitants have been taking the edge off a long commute – or a tough day at the trading post – with a stiff drink. Throughout the three-martini steakhouse lunches of the Mad Men era or while planted on a duct-taped stool in one of the city’s legendary scuzzy (and increasingly rare) dives, generations of hard-working, hard-drinking residents have found a haven in happy hour, making bona ide second homes of their favourite watering holes.

No cocktail stands for NYC’s particular character better than the one that shares its name with the city’s most populous borough.

It’s a potent blend of rye whiskey, vermouth and bitters, a simple formula that belies its capacity for complexity and lends itself to endless iterations. While cocktail history abounds with apocryphal origin stories, the record suggests that some of the earliest versions of the Manhattan were poured in the 1870s at a social club of the same name. Since then, the three-ingredient recipe has spawned many variations and cemented its place in the pantheon of classic cocktails. To get a taste for this iconic tipple, I set off in search of the best version the city can offer.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - January 2019
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