What Did Your Parents Drink? My Mother’s Manhattan Recipe

updated May 2, 2019
Recipe Review
My Mom's Manhattan Recipe
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Five o’clock friends aren’t as much the norm these days as they were perhaps in our parents’ or even grandparents’ time. I think most people remember what their parents or grandparents drank (or still drink), and for food and drink freaks like us, these memories are precious and held dear to our hearts. There are quite a few drinks that made their way into my bar diaries (this is the book I scribble down notes, recipes, and memories of drinks I’ve had, loved or hated and the memories swirling around them), ranging from hot coffee on the beach to my mom’s Manhattan. It started me thinking — what did/do your parents drink?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

On my dad’s side there was an Aunt Gin and Aunt Scotch, so you can kind of guess what was poured there. On my mom’s side we grew up going to the beach with cousins, aunts and uncles and of course the heads of the family, our Gram and Pop.

Daily rituals included my grandfather, a.k.a. Pop, toting his hand radio and thermos of hot coffee to the beach. No matter how hot the sun, he always said it cooled him down. After a long day at the beach Gram and Aunt Betty, her identical twin, would sip a cold beer on the porch. Though she denies this today, I remember it vividly.

Pop’s evening drink was chilled Lambrusco, a jug of Riunite always tucked in the fridge. It’s fun for me to see now in 2012 this light- bodied Italian red wine making a comeback. Some things are timeless. Cold beer after the beach is one of the token times I drink it and while I’m not a member of the Riunite on ice fan club, I’ve been building my cocktail couture in order to carry on another drink tradition bestowed upon me my by my mother.

My mom loves her Manhattan, and anyone who knows her, knows that. It’s a ritual — stirred (NEVER SHAKEN or she sends it back), rocks on the side with one cherry (cherished equally as much as a kid loves the one atop a sundae) nestled in the soft “V” of a chilled martini glass. At my house these glasses lived in the freezer. Like dessert my mom gets her Manhattan treat. It’s the classic recipe but she skips the bitters. Always has. This simple tweak makes this recipe my mom’s Manhattan.

Did your parents have a daily cocktail hour? Do you remember your dad pouring himself the same Scotch every night? We’d love to know. What did your parents drink?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

My Mom's Manhattan Recipe

Makes 1 drink

Nutritional Info


  • Ice

  • 2 ounces

    whiskey (My mom's choice is Canadian Club.)

  • 2 ounces

    sweet vermouth

  • Maraschino cherry, for garnish (the ones with the stems look nicer and are easier to enjoy)


  1. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice add whiskey and sweet vermouth.

  2. Stir until well chilled.

  3. Strain into a chilled martini glass, and garnish with one maraschino cherry.

  4. Serve the ice on the side.

Maureen C. Petrosky writes what she knows, food, booze and parties. Author of The Wine Club, she appears regularly on The TODAY show to share her vices (and advice) with the world. For more info check out www.maureenpetrosky.com or follow her on Twitter @maureenpetrosky

(Images: Maureen Petrosky)