Man O' War

Difford's Guide
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Serve in a

Coupe glass

Photographed in a

Libbey Speakeasy Coupe 8.5oz

Garnish:

Lemon zest & Luxardo maraschino cherry

How to make:

SHAKE all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.

1 1/2 fl oz Bourbon whiskey
1/2 fl oz Triple sec liqueur (40%)
1/2 fl oz Martini Rosso sweet vermouth
1/2 fl oz Lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
1/12 fl oz Sugar syrup (65.0°brix, 2 sugar to 1 water rich syrup) (optional)
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Review:

Zingy, sweet and sour, fruity and bourbon-laced. The sugar syrup is my own addition and depending on your lemons and tastes you may want to either omit or increase to 5ml (1/6oz).

History:

This cocktail is named after an American thoroughbred who was one of the greatest racehorses in history winning 20 of 21 races in 1919-20.

Consensus has it that this cocktail "Originated in the mid-20th century," which follows given the thoroughbred's period of notoriety. However, you'd think that such a "classic cocktail" would also appear in one or more of the numerous cocktail tomes published in the mid-1930s and subsequent decades. Well not that I can find. I may have missed the bleeding obvious but until somebody (please) points me in the right direction, I regard the Man O' War as a modern-day cocktail.

American newspapers from 1915 do feature a "man-o'-war cocktail" but as The West Virginian reports on 24th July that year, this is a quite different cocktail "...made by putting one can of condensed milk in a gallon of hot water; pouring one quart of alcohol over six well-beaten eggs, adding two cups of sugar and some nutmeg (if you can get it). The result is a concoction that tastes not unlike a Christmas egg-nog."

Or its name may have come from the "Man-O-War cocktail lounge" at the 120-room Holiday Inn, part of a ten-acre complex built on Route 132 in Cape Cod in 1969. Or indeed a quite different "Man-o'-War cocktail lounge" at the New Edgewater Beach Hotel which opened in 1967 in Broward County, Southeast Florida.

However, the thoroughbred link is supported by the earliest reference I can find to the Man O'War cocktail is in The Indianapolis Star newspaper on 30th April 2015 as one of three "Kentucky Derby Cocktails Done Right."

2. MAN O' WAR
This citrusy cocktail; is named after one of the greatest racehorses of all time. The legendary thoroughbred won 20 of his 21 races on his way into the history books. Nicknamed "Big Red," Man o' War won the Preakness and Belmont in 1920, but not the Derby, as his owner did not want him to run.
1.5 ounces Maker's Mark
.5 ounces Cointreau
.5 ounces Sweet vermouth
.5 ounces fresh lemon juice
Add all ingredients to a shaker. Shake and strain into a coupe.

The Indianapolis Star, 30/April/2015

Nutrition:

One serving of Man O' War contains 177 calories.

Alcohol content:

  • 1.5 standard drinks
  • 22.89% alc./vol. (45.78° proof)
  • 21.2 grams of pure alcohol
Difford's Guide remains free-to-use thanks to the support of the brands in green above. Values stated for alcohol and calorie content, and number of drinks an ingredient makes should be considered approximate.

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Buy direct from
the_whisky_exchange store logo
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Makes a minimum of ... cocktails
Just £ -.-- per cocktail*

* This list may not include all required ingredients.
Price per cocktail is an estimate based on the cost of making one cocktail with the available ingredients shown above and does not include any postage charges.
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