Why is it Called a Black Manhattan?

The Black Manhattan is a variation on the classic Manhattan cocktail, with the addition of Averna amaro replacing the sweet vermouth. This gives the Black Manhattan a darker color and a more bitter flavor profile.

Origins of the Name

The origin of the name “Black Manhattan” is not entirely clear, but there are a few theories.

  • Color: The most likely explanation is that the name refers to the dark color of the cocktail, which is due to the addition of Averna amaro. Averna is a deep reddish-brown liqueur, and when it is added to the Manhattan, it gives the cocktail a much darker color than the traditional Manhattan.

  • Inspiration: Another possibility is that the name “Black Manhattan” is a reference to the traditional Manhattan cocktail. The Manhattan is a classic cocktail that is made with rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The Black Manhattan is a variation on the Manhattan, so it is possible that the name “Black Manhattan” is a way to indicate that it is a darker, more bitter version of the classic cocktail.

Popularity and Legacy

The Black Manhattan was created in 2005 by bartender Todd Smith at San Francisco’s Bourbon & Branch. It quickly became a popular cocktail, and it is now a staple on many cocktail menus. The Black Manhattan has been praised for its complex flavor profile and its versatility. It can be enjoyed as an aperitif, a digestif, or a nightcap.

The Black Manhattan is a delicious and versatile cocktail that is perfect for any occasion. Its unique flavor profile makes it a favorite among cocktail enthusiasts, and its dark color and mysterious name add to its appeal.

It’s crucial to remember that the Classic Manhattan, like the one that financial tycoon J P. Morgan uses the term “classic” a lot at the end of each trading day. “True” Manhattan drinkers usually disapprove of deviations, with the possible exception of the Black Manhattan. That’s because there are only two ingredient substitutions required: one uses bitters, and the other is more suited for people who prefer a bittersweet twist on the traditionally sweet cocktail. With everything else staying essentially unchanged, a reluctant tip of the hat is given.

Heres what that acceptable swap-out entails. A well-shaken combination of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, aromatic Angostura bitters, and a maraschino cherry garnish creates the Classic Manhattan cocktail. The much-praised Black Manhattan substitutes a bittersweet Averna amaro for the sweet vermouth. This is a split bitters recipe; typically, a dash of citric orange bitters is added to the Angostura bitters.

The Manhattan Club in New York City is where the Classic Manhattan, like most modern cocktails, first appeared. However, there are numerous variations of this origin story; the most popular ones involve the tinkerings of an inquisitive bartender, an aspirational bar patron, or, even more fanciful, by or for Sir Winston Churchill’s mother. Even though none are confirmed—the Churchill version has been thoroughly refuted—the Manhattan seems to have originated in New York City in the 1860s.

The Manhattan is well-known to lovers of mixed drinks, either from firsthand knowledge or from its appearance in movies like “Some Like It Hot” from 1959. “In the film’s train scene, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe drink what is now known as a Classic Manhattan from a throwaway paper Dixie cup. Since then, the drink has evolved significantly, and it is now most frequently served to people with supposedly sophisticated palates in elegant cocktail glasses.

Whether creating a traditional or dark version, some bartenders are now going beyond accepted boundaries by substituting bourbon for the rye whiskey. This usually lessens the spice content of rye whiskey, making it fall more smoothly on the tongue. Furthermore, a lot of classy bars serve brandied cherries instead of candy-sweet maraschino, which finishes the drink with a hint of rich complexity and alcohol.

This is no exception to my preference for the Manhattan and the majority of its numerous variations. Amaro Averna, which is actually on the sweeter and more approachable end of the amaro category, is used in place of sweet vermouth in the Black Manhattan. Todd Smith, a bartender at Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco in 2005, is credited with coming up with this twist.

The Black Manhattan – classic meets contemporary


What is the difference between a Manhattan and a Black Manhattan?

The Black Manhattan was created in 2005 at San Francisco bar Bourbon & Branch by bartender Todd Smith. It’s a simple variation on the classic Manhattan, with bittersweet Averna amaro replacing the sweet vermouth and with a second type of bitters added.

What is the history of the Black Manhattan?

Created by bartender Todd Smith when he worked at San Francisco’s Bourbon & Branch, the Black Manhattan recipe uses Averna in place of sweet vermouth—a groundbreaking move when it was created in 2005.

What’s a dirty Manhattan?

Whisky, vermouth and bitters form the base of this simple but sophisticated cocktail. Served in a martini glass and garnished with a green olive and lemon zest, it’s the ultimate elegant party drink. Serves 1. 5 mins to prepare. 183 calories / serving.

What is a substitute for Black Manhattan?

The Black Manhattan substitutes Amaro Averna in for the sweet vermouth, which despite its foreboding colour is actually on the sweeter and more accessible end of the amaro category.

Is a black Manhattan a’real’ cocktail?

Self-professed “real” Manhattan drinkers typically frown upon deviations, except for perhaps one exception: the Black Manhattan. That’s because it involves just two ingredient swaps: one involving the bitters, and the other appealing to those favoring a more bittersweet take on the classically sweet cocktail.

What is the difference between Black Manhattan and black spin?

Like the Manhattan, the Black Manhattan has a few drops of bitters to add complexity to the drink. The Black spin uses both Angostura bitters and orange bitters, to add even more intrigue than the standard cocktail. Of course if you don’t have one or the other, feel free to use just one variety. The difference is very subtle.

Why is a Manhattan cocktail named after a New York borough?

Yet, it does not seem likely that the club was involved in creating the drink. Instead, as you might have guessed, it simply was named after the most famous New York Borough, Manhattan. Nowadays, you can also find recipes and cocktails for the other four boroughs: Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and even Staten Island.

What is the difference between Black Manhattan & Amaro?

The primary difference is that the Black Manhattan replaces the Manhattan’s vermouth with Amaro . Black Manhattan also adds a double dose of bitters, compared to a single dash in the classic cocktail. This results in a drier drink- less sweet and more herby than the Manhattan.

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