Year Manhattan and Martinez Cocktails are First Cited

1878 and all that

Cocktails history is an occasional interest of mine. Stimulated by a discussion today with drinks historian David Wondrich on Twitter, I’ve looked into the year the Manhattan and Martinez cocktails first appear in print. Many consider the Martinez the ancestor of the Martini, or in effect the same thing, but it has a connection to the Manhattan too.

In terms of when a proper written recipe first appeared, sources on these cocktails seem to accord on 1884 via the book The Modern Bartenders’ Guide, or Fancy Drinks and how to mix Them by O.H. Byron, published that year by Excelsior Publishing House in New York. See e.g. this original edition, and page 21 where Byron states in lapidary fashion that the Martinez recipe is the same as his (two) detailed recipes for the Manhattan, but with gin used for the whiskey.

However, was Byron’s book published earlier? Consider (via HathiTrust) page 400 of Jennie June’s American Cookery Book, published in 1878. Jennie June was the nom de plume of Jane Cunningham Croly.

According to my searches, see e.g., the Catalogue Record in HathiTrust for this title, Croly/Jennie June’s American Cookery Book was first published in 1866. It appeared in numerous later editions or reprintings, including in 1878 (new edition, see preface). She published a number books dealing with female and “domestic” issues, and founded an influential womens’ club. She is remembered enough to merit the Wikipedia biography entry linked above.

Excelsior was her publisher, hence its ad in the closing pages for the (uncredited) The Modern Bartenders Guide. This Guide seems essentially the 1884 one as the drinks list in the Contents page is almost the same. “Manhattan Cocktail” duly appears in versions No. 1 and No. 2 and their actual recipes must have been the same as for the 1884 edition, ditto for the way to make the “Martinez Cocktail”.

For the Manhattan, the modern Difford’s Guide states that the first written recipe appears in O. H. Byron’s book published in 1884 and that a reference to the drink appears earlier in print, in September, 1882 in the Daily Morning Herald of Olean, NY. The latter mentions the key ingredients of a Manhattan but is not a recipe as such.

(There is other evidence suggesting an earlier origin for the drink but nothing in print to confirm it before 1882 as far as I know).

Yet, the Manhattan, in two versions, and Martinez, sans recipes but surely the same as in the 1884 book, appear ostensibly in 1878 in an ad in Jennie June’s cookery book published that year. No ad for The Modern Bartenders Guide appears in the original, 1866 edition of Jennie June’s book, or what appear to be reprintings in 1870 and 1874.

I’m wondering now if Jennie Jerome Churchill, Winston Churchill’s mother and associated in lore with the creation of the Manhattan at the Manhattan Club around 1880, has been confounded with the Jennie of the cookbook mentioned. Or is that just a coincidence?

If I’ve gone wrong, happy to be put straight, but so far I don’t see where.

9 thoughts on “Year Manhattan and Martinez Cocktails are First Cited”

  1. It’s always difficult to prove a negative and I can’t say it’s impossible that there was some sort of 1878 edition, but I go with Occam’s razor in these things. Why do all the newspapers cite the Manhattan/Martini as new drinks in the early 1880s if they were known in 1878? Any searches for “Modern bartender’s Guide,” the work’s title leave one at 1884, when the book is treated as new. The Library of Congress only has the 1884 edition.

    It’s not about when Jennie June’s book was published but when it was reprinted. If Excelsior reprinted it in 1884 or after, they included ads for their latest books, as was common practice. My copy of the 1858 Bordeaux Wine and Liquor Guide has an ad for Jerry Thomas’s Bar-Tender’s Guide in it (copyright 1862); that doesn’t mean that Thomas’s book was actually first published in 1858.

    • On the face of it a book from 1878 lists the two drinks, and the Contents list differs from the hitherto-accepted first edition.

      1878 is not far away from the early 1880s and there is always a lag between publicity and fashion. I’d say the burden is the other way, e.g. if the cookbook was published in 1884 not 1878, presumably there is a way to prove that. But again even if so, why are the drinks list different? Why is Byron’s name absent in the cookbook’s ad?

      More research is welcome, but for now I think there is a real question.


    • David of course it is possible, in addition, that a book published in 1878 later had an insert put in – six years later – to promote the additional titles then available. If that was done, the book might have been digitized in a way that you cannot tell from the upload this was done. But the original (from a library) should show if that happened.

      Yet again I ask myself, assuming that occurred, why different Contents lists, why no author reference in the insert?


    • Finally, dealing with the last possibility – reprinting in bound form a book actually published in 1878 with ads for newer books – there should be some evidence of the reprinting. Why is it not referred to in the book that it was reprinted, as done today? Assuming it wasn’t the practice at the time to do that (I don’t know), there must be some evidence still of reprinting. It’s not something one should simply assume, certainly.

      And there is remaining still the fact of differing Content lists and no author reference…


      • As far as I can tell it was not general practice to indicate printings then. The way to solve this is of course to assemble multiple copies of the 1878 edition of the book and see if they have different ads in the back. If you look at a book such as Jerry Thomas’s Bar Tenders Guide, which sold widely, the available copies show a great diversity in the ads included, while not otherwise indicating different printings unless it was by the rise in the cover price.

        The no author reference can perhaps be explained by the apparent nonexistence of O.H. Byron, who appears in no city directory at the time or anywhere else I was able to find the last time I checked. It was frequent practice with how-to books, generally assembled as work for hire, to publish them anonymously or pseudonymously.

        As for the contents, there are several possible explanations–space, last-minute additions to the book, etc. etc.

        Again, these arguments are not proof, which would require building a “stemma,” as they call it, of editions of the 1878 Jennie June, determining publication dates of the included books, etc.

        In the meanwhile, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

        • David, I forgot just one thing, my searches, using the HathiTrust Catalogue Record and other sources (just Google searches of the book and Jenny June name), pulled up 1870 and 1874 versions of her book. These years are stated below the inside title page or next to it. These are clearly the 1866 first edition, reprinted. The 1878 version was a new edition though, this is evident from her preface. If the 1878 book was reprinted with the new ads in 1884, why would 1884 not have been shown as the reprinting year, as for these other cases? Nowhere can I find that year in the book. Maybe they took remainders and did an insert, yet the pages are numbered … I suppose an insert could be done that way too though.

          You may be right, but I could be right too with the present state of knowledge. At bottom, we have a book that looks from 1878 with the words for these cocktails in it. Maybe Byron’s book was written, and planned for publication, in 1878 but publication and deposit in Washington were delayed until 1884, that is possible too.

          I don’t have the resources here to get to the bottom of it at the present time, but put it out simply because I think it’s more than worthwhile to do that. I was looking for something else yesterday, saw this, and decided to publicize it in the interest of scholarship.

          I’d hope scholars writing on this issue going forward would mention my find, while being free of course to state any opinion they have. I’d think it appropriate anyway.

          Thanks again for your thoughts on this matter and I always enjoy our occasional salons so to speak, online-style. Maybe one day we can actually share something bibulous. I get to NYC occasionally and will make a point to look you up when next there (with advance notice be assured).


  2. I think this is alas a false alarm. It was common practice in the late 1800s to advertise new books in the pages of books that were being reprinted. I have spent an awful lot of time futilely chasing down phantom earlier editions due to this until I eventually learned to suspect everything. I think that is the case here: there is no copyright evidence of an earlier edition (I certainly found none when I searched copyright records at the Library of Congress when I was researching Imbibe), no copy of an 1878 edition is known to exist, and there is independent evidence that Byron’s book was indeed 1884. Here is an excerpt from the “New Publications” column of the Sacramento Daily Union from October 18, 1884:
    “From the Excelsior Publishing House, new York, we have a pamphlet by O.H. Byron entitled “The Modern bartender’s Guide” etc. There are a couple other mentions of the book as new at the time.

    • Thanks, but at this time I’m not convinced. For one thing, the list of drinks in the Contents is not exactly the same. In the putative 1878 one, Brandy and Ginger Ale and Brandy and Gum are not mentioned, for example, nor are White Lion and Wine Lemonade at the end. This suggests changes were made in a later edition. Also, why is Byron’s name not mentioned in the apparent 1878 ad? Maybe it was published first as a house-only “pamphlet” and later edited for publication under Byron’s name. Maybe it was released to the trade for review once billed as author’s production (1884) vs. an anonymous trade press publication. (How do you review an uncredited book?).

      As well, when was the apparent 1878 edition of Jennie June’s book actually published? On the face of it, 1878 per the copyright notice at the front.


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