Wisconsin’s Favorite – the Brandy Manhattan

Jul 7, 2017

The Brandy Vermouth Cocktail speaks for itself. Consisting of the obvious key ingredients mixed with a dash of Bitters, this Mr. Boston’s recipe marks the final Brandy themed cocktail in what has been 22 days of the spirit in a row. It also strongly resembles my beloved Rob Roy which made me very excited to try it out.

It’s a dead simple drink which aside from sounding delicious, isn’t giving me any tidbits to write about. I did find it intriguing that my 1935 had 22 Brandy titled recipes while many of the older books did not. Was Brandy more popular post Prohibition or did Leo Cotton simply need more “B” titled creations? A quick Google for Brandy, Sweet Vermouth and Bitters highlighted the Brandy Manhattan and wouldn’t you know it, the two appear to be one in the same.

The Manhattan Cocktail is said to have been born in New York in the early 1870’s. My copy of Mr. Boston’s includes not one but two Manhattan recipes. Both contain Mr. Boston’s Whiskey, aka Bourbon.

Wikipedia seemed to be the only source on the Brandy Manhattan. A recipe they say is very popular with imbibers in Wisconsin and Minnesota. To test that theory I did a little digging on the subject. Turns out Wisconsinite’s really do enjoy their booze. Brandy in particular. In fact California Brandy producer, Korbel, reported that 1/3rd of their total production goes to Wisconsin in 2004. That number represented 139,000 cases!

No one seems to know why the good people of Wisconsin love their Brandy so much. It is a colder climate and Brandy is awfully delicious warmed. Surprisingly, with the state taking the lead on total dollars spent on this particular spirit, they are beat out in volume by Washington D.C. and Minnesota. Very interesting in deed!

It sounds to me like the Brandy Manhattan was likely around during the time my post Prohibition cocktail book was put together. For the life of me I can’t figure out why Cotton decided to go with a boring name like Brandy Vermouth Cocktail when he clearly had more interesting titles to choose from. Perhaps he feared confusing the subject?

All I know is that Wisconsin sounds like a place Ryan and I need to check out. It’s one of the few states we have yet to visit, I think a trip may be in order 🙂

Back to the subject at hand… Ryan was busy at the shop putting machinery together so I made my way up to the house for solo cocktail trial. Since tonight’s refreshments contains a few of my favorite things, I was glad I didn’t have share. (Sorry babe!)

OH MY! I have a new cocktail to love. I never really cared for Manhattans to be honest, but this Brandy version is to die for.

Before trying this one on for size, I was concerned that this sweeter Brandy paired with the Antica Formula sweet Vermouth would be too sweet. But it’s not, it is perfect pair! Smooth, sweet and satisfying. I see why they love it up North!

For other mixologist’s out there, here’s what I mixed up:

  • 1 ounce Symbole National XO
  • 1/3 ounce Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • Bada Bing black cherry

What an amazing way to wrap up whatsometimes felt like a never ending Brandy nightmare. Some were good, some were bad but I’d say out of 22 Brandy recipes, tonight’s cocktail takes the gold metal. CHEERS!