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Feb 23, 2010 01:51 PM

Vintage Heublein Manhattan Cocktail

Hello all,

I recently came upon a sealed vintage bottle of Heublein Manhattan Cocktail. It is basically a very old pre-mixed Manhattan. I have no idea how old it is, and am having a lot of trouble dating it. I haven't had much luck finding any information about it. The label reads: "Heublein Manhattan Cocktail - The distilled spirits in this cocktail is blended whiskey" The bottle itself actually says (molded into the glass itself) "FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS SALE OR RE-USE OF THIS BOTTLE" It is also adorned with a couple of stamps that read "US Internal Revenue - Distilled Spirits - Tax paid" followed by some type of serial number. These stamps are over the top of the bottle, which I imagine are to form a type of legal seal, and have not been tampered with. I have just given you the most vague description of an item and am asking for much more information than can be assessed from the provided, however, is anybody aware of a source that may know more about it? I would like to assess the value of such a bottle, but am not really looking to sell (for legal and sentimental reasons). Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!


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  1. Heublein is an old and large company. While Heublein is no longer a household name, perhaps you may have heard of a vodka called Smirnoff.

    Heublein started in 1875, made pre-mixed cocktails for restaurants, and sold bottled premixed cocktails to the public. They diversified by buying A-1 steak sauce, which allowed them to survive prohibition. The company bought Smirnoff from a Russian immigrant in 1939, and then immediately began marketing vodka as "America's new drink." Smirnoff profits led more diversification and they became a huge food and spirits conglomerate. Purchased Grey Poupon, Ortega foods, United Vintner's, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
    Sold to RJ Reynolds corporation in the 1980's, and then sold off again. Still in business as food and beverage distributors.

    During the 1960's, they began aggressively advertising their pre-mixed cocktails in print ads in magazines, featuring well known celebrities of the time, like Jack Palance, Woody Allen, etc. It was a popular promotion. They even sold mixed cocktails in cans.

    I can tell you that Federal Tax seals were used on liquor bottles until 1984.
    The words "Tax Paid" were used on those labels until 1982, and then were replaced by the word "Distilled." Your bottle pre-dated 1982.

    The best way to date your bottle would be to google "Heublein Manhattan Cocktail advertisement for sale" and then compare your bottle to the styles of bottles that appear in the ads or posters from 1905 until the 1982. The bottles shape and labels changed over the years, and that would be a way of dating your bottle to a time period.

    Good luck.

    1. My first reaction was, "what -- it's too hard to pour out of two bottles and shake in some bitters?", but I bet a smart company could market well-made bottled cocktails. I have friends that I can easily imagine having a few bottles of popular cocktails in the fridge, along with the beer and white wine. Maybe an assortment pack, like those packs of single-serving cereal boxes I used to love (and never get) as a kid. Not everyone has (or wants) a bar or liquor cabinet.

      2 Replies
      1. re: EvergreenDan

        I just whipped up a batch of pre-mixed "manhattans": 750ml bourbon + 750ml sweet vermouth + 4oz maple syrup - let sit for 2 months before serving. Never had it, I'm making it upon a recommendation from a friend for an upcoming fishing trip. No idea how it will turn out.

        1. re: BatMan

          This sounds like a very, very sweet cocktail even a 1:1 bourbon to sweet vermouth will make an extremely wet Manhattan. Add in some more maple syrup and you have a sugar bomb. I'm curious what the additional time will have on the final product. I hope you follow up with the results.