January 9: Lady Randolph Churchill

Today we celebrate the birth of Lady-Randolph-ChurchillLady Randolph Churchill, born Jeanette Jerome on January 9, 1854.

As you can guess from the surname, Lady Churchill was the mother of future Prime Minister Winston Churchill. However, she was a pretty awesome woman in her own right. Jeannette Jerome grew up in Brooklyn and was a talented amateur pianist. Before her marriage to Lord Randolph Churchill, she was a magazine editor. Oh, and did I mention she had a tattoo? Yes, Lady Churchill had a snake tattoo on her wrist. Surprisingly, in the 1870s it was fashionable for upper class women to get inked, although the snake tattoo was considered a bit ostentatious for its time.

According to popular legend, Lady Churchill was responsible for the creation of the Manhattan. The story goes that Dr. Iain Marshall invented the Manhattan in 1874 for a banquet at the Manhattan Club hosted by Lady Churchill to celebrate Samuel J. Tilden’s election as Governor of New York. There’s just one small problem with this story; Lady Churchill was pregnant at the time (with little Winston) and in France. It’s possible that elements of this story are true, but Lady Churchill was definitely not involved in Manhattan’s creation. Regardless, the Manhattan is a classic and if you’ve never made one, now is the perfect excuse to.

Manhattan

  • 2 ounces American Whiskey or Rye
  • 3/4 ounce Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Tomorrow: Going underground.

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