Traditional recipes

Manhattan Cocktail recipe

Manhattan Cocktail recipe

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A classic American cocktail, it's best with rye whiskey or bourbon, though bourbon makes it sweeter. Shake or stir.

1 person made this

IngredientsServes: 1

  • ice
  • 2 measures rye whiskey
  • 1 measure sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • cocktail cherry or lemon twist for garnish

MethodPrep:3min ›Ready in:3min

  1. Chill a martini glass in the freezer. Place ice in a cocktail pitcher or shaker. Pour whiskey and sweet vermouth into the shaker or pitcher. Add two dashes of bitters. Shake or stir to mix. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon or a cherry.

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  • 2.5 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • dash Angostura bitters
  • cocktail cherry, for garnish
  • ice


Combine the rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters in a shaker with ice. Shake or stir.

Fill your smoke infuser with the wood of your choice. Turn the fan on and light the wood with a lighter. Place the hose end of the smoke infuser in a martini glass with a cocktail cherry. While the smoke is filling the glass, strain the cocktail into the glass.

Cover the glass with plastic wrap and fill the top of the glass with smoke. Remove the hose and seal the plastic wrap to trap the smoke. Let sit one minute and remove the plastic wrap.

Our take on the Manhattan features Knob Creek&rsquos straight rye whiskey. This is a 100 proof whiskey that stands up well to the sweetness of the sweet vermouth. And we found that the spiciness of the rye really compliments the drink.

The smoke infuser is a simple concept, really. Fine particles of wood are placed in the chamber on top of a mesh screen. A fan pulls air from above the wood and sends it through the end of the gun. The wood is ignited with a lighter, and the steady flow of air allows the wood to burn and create smoke using only the power of the fan, while putting off almost no heat. This allows you to place smoke on top of the liquid, trap that smoke (plastic wrap), and allow the smoke to infuse into the drink.

Rye Whiskey vs. Bourbon

So which one should you use? There are a few components of rye whiskey and bourbon that make them different from each other…


  • Bourbon is made up of a mash that has at least 51% corn, and is only called bourbon if it is made in the United States
  • Rye Whiskey is made up of a similar mash, but instead, is at least 51% rye, and the rest of the mash can be made from corn or barley.


  • Bourbon has a sweeter and full-bodied flavor due to the corn mash, which also makes it easier to tolerate for most. It tends to have vanilla or caramel undertones.
  • Rye Whiskey has spicy tones and a drier taste from the rye mash, which lends to its more intense flavor that will develop on your palate as you drink.

Types Of Bourbon

  • Traditional – This is the most common bourbon
  • High-Rye – Has a large amount of rye and packs more of a kick than the traditional bourbon
  • High-Wheat – This is the softest bourbon because it has little to no rye
  • Tennessee Whiskey – Made in Tennessee and it is passed through a charcoal filter before it is aged.

Types of Rye Whiskey

  • American Rye – This whiskey is heavily regulated and usually has the most consistent quality.
  • Canadian Rye – Less regulations and usually mostly made with corn mash rather than rye mash.

The Only Manhattan Cocktail Recipes You'll Ever Need

When it comes to venerable, vermouth-aided cocktails, most experts believe that the Manhattan predates them all &mdash even its cousin, the martini &mdash to sometime in the 1800s.

When it comes to venerable, vermouth-aided cocktails, most experts believe that the Manhattan predates them all — even its cousin, the martini — to sometime in the 1800s.

Although one story claims that the drink was invented at the Manhattan Club, a 1923 book called the Valentine’s Manual of New York (check out the original text

The cocktail, which is a potent mix of whiskey, vermouth and bitters, has dozens of variations. Some prefer bourbon while others swear by rye whiskey, and of course there’s much debate about whether to shake or stir, and whether or not a maraschino cherry is acceptable when pitted cherries aren’t on hand.

Our verdict: Stop squabbling and be an equal-opportunity Manhattan drinker, because they’re all delicious. Start by mixing a classic Manhattan, demoed in the video below, and then move on to an easy riff from The Intoxicologist.

Italian Manhattan

¼ oz. maraschino cherry Juice

Cherry and orange slice, for garnish

Place liquids in cocktail shaker with ice. Stir or shake according to preference until completely chilled. Strain into chilled martini glass or serve over fresh ice in rocks glass. Garnish with skewered cherry and orange slice.

RELATED: 6 Cocktails for Day Drinking — That Won’t Make You Sleepy Later

Reverse Manhattan

Popular legend pegs the Manhattan’s invention to New York City’s Manhattan Club around 1880. Shortly after its debut, it became one of America’s most popular drinks, and it’s easy to see why: The timeless mix of American whiskey and Italian vermouth, accented with a couple dashes of bitters, is well-balanced and tasty. All these decades later, it’s still in high demand.

Like any classic cocktail, the Manhattan has spurred many riffs, including other drinks named for NYC boroughs and neighborhoods, like the Brooklyn, Bronx and Red Hook, which call on other spirits and liqueurs. But one riff, the Reverse Manhattan, simply reverses the typical 2:1 whiskey-to-vermouth ratio and makes vermouth the star.

Though vermouth is mainly used today as a modifier, Justin Lavenue, the co-owner and operator of The Roosevelt Room in Austin, points out that it was poured more liberally in the mid-to-late 1800s. That includes in Manhattans, as 19th-century drinkers were likely to have enjoyed a recipe that featured equal parts whiskey and vermouth, or possibly more vermouth than whiskey.

“In a lot of ways, the Reverse Manhattan is an homage to how people used to drink vermouth and an homage to the genesis of cocktails as a whole,” he says. “If balanced correctly, [it] can be a wildly delicious drink.”

Of course, the quality of the vermouth counts here. Rather than relying on one bottle to do all the work, Lavenue enlists three high-quality Italians—Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Punt e Mes and Carpano Antica Formula—in precise ratios. You don’t have to combine your vermouths, but Lavenue’s recipe yields a blend that is rich and herbal with a hint of bitterness, and it stands tall next to the rye whiskey.

The next time you want a Manhattan, try this about-face version. The Reverse Manhattan is a recognizable take on the classic that brings all the flavor with less of the alcohol, so it’s a great option for starting or ending your evening with a lighter-than-usual whiskey drink.

Merry Manhattan, a Christmas Cocktail

I have a delicious cocktail for you, because it’s December and, this month, cocktails on Monday is the right thing to do.

Plus, you might need to take the edge off after your crazy weekend of black friday shopping.

This one definitely takes all edges off. Yes, things will be lovely and round…

It is, after all, a boozy Manhattan –

The cast: bourbon, dry vermouth and a few drops of bitters.

Made Merry with a yummy ginger-cinnamon-cardamom infused syrup. Mmmm hmmm.

The syrup is easy to make – just dissolve sugar in water on the stove, then throw in some goodies and let them bathe for an hour or so to let their flavours bloom and make things delicious.

The recipe makes more syrup than you’ll need today. Unless it was indeed a very strenuous shopping weekend.

(You weren’t at WalMart, were you. )

Leftover syrup can be stored in a jar for another Merry Manhattan Monday, can be used to make this Dark & Stormy or use it to sweeten your tea or coffee for a festive wake-up.

OR brush it over a cake before frosting it to keep it moist and add some spice!

Or to sweeten a winter fruit salad (pears! apples! pomegranate!).

Christmas drinks should, first and foremost, be pretty! Sugared cranberry swizzle sticks make that happen – I’ll teach you how to make them in a very-soon-upcoming blog post.

How to Make a Manhattan

This is a classic cocktail that any whiskey drinker ought to know by heart.

  1. Stir the whiskey, vermouth, and bitters well with cracked ice in a mixing glass until chilled.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  3. Garnish with a twist and/or a cocktail cherry.

The Manhattan demands respect. It is brazen: a heavy pour of rye or bourbon, sweet vermouth, and aromatic bitters. It is rich, with strong flavors both spicier and sweeter. It is strong. You make it carefully, and then you sip it slowly, because it is a drink that you earn from a hard day's work. Since the very act of emerging from underneath a duvet and facing another day in your life more than qualifies as hard labor after the year we've had, that's quite a few well-earned Manhattans coming your way.

In the annals of cocktail-making, the Manhattan is an all-around heavyweight champion. There's some debate over rye versus bourbon (rye jabs sharply, so we tend to prefer it), cocktail cherry versus lemon twist or both. It's a drink that lends itself to riffing should you be in the mood. You can tinker with your whiskey and vermouth and even the ratio between to two (within reason) until the recipe you'll always place your bets on emerges. While 2 ounces of whiskey to 1 ounce of sweet vermouth is the standard, going with 2.5 ounces of rye can make for a transcendent drink. Feel free to swap out bitters for variety, but you'll find yourself coming home to Angostura 97% of the time. And an expressed lemon twist will take the drink to a higher plain. Consider knowing how to make your Manhattan is like knowing how to properly shake hands. No weak wrists for the handshake. No ice in the cocktail. Have at it.

A Little Background

You want to know why the Manhattan is called the Manhattan? Because it is one of the best damn cocktails on record, so they named it for the best damn city in the world. Well, perhaps its origin story is not quite so jingoistic, but it's close. The Manhattan cocktail's origins are commonly traced back to the Manhattan Club, in Manhattan, in the latter half of the 19th Century, where it was crafted for a party thrown by Winston Churchill's mother. As drinks historian David Wondrich points out, that's a load of bull Lady Randolph Churchill was pregnant in England at the time of this rumored party.

But the Manhattan Club did hoard very old rye, and it did serve a Manhattan cocktail, though its recipe was different at the time. Things evolved from there. During Prohibition, Manhattans had to be served with Canadian whisky&mdashthe only whisky people could get their hand on. And, despite the years, the Manhattan is still being enjoyed in New York and all the other great metropolises. It's that good.

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If You Like This, Try These

The other very good, very classic whiskey cocktail that is made with rye or bourbon is the Old Fashioned. You know that one. Try a Whiskey Sour with rye, too. The Sazerac is another rye whiskey cocktail rich with history that you'll like. If your flavor preferences veer across the Atlantic, try a Rob Roy, which is a Manhattan made with scotch. And this is cool: the Manhattan has a New York borough neighbor, the Brooklyn cocktail, that's made with rye, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and Amer Picon.

On a parting note, we give you a formula to batch your Manhattan so you can keep a premade jug of it in the freezer. Because while one Manhattan is nice, a weeklong supply of Manhattans is pure efficiency.

History of the Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail

There’s a reason why the classic “2-1-2” rule is used for a Bourbon Manhattan. The origin of many cocktails is lost in time. However, the classic Manhattan cocktail has evidence of some truth in its name.

The area code for Manhattan residence is 212 coincidentally, the ratio used to make the famous cocktail. According to TASTE Cocktails, one of the many theories of the Manhattan’s origin is that it was created in the early 1880s when “Dr. Iain Marshall came up with the recipe for a party that was held at the Manhattan Club in New York City.” It is said that Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, held the party that popularized the cocktail.

Today, many believe the Manhattan’s origin to be a tale. History suggests that Lady Randolph Churchill would have been pregnant with Winston at the time, debunking the idea of his mother partying in New York. Others suggest the Manhattan was invented by a man going by the name of “Black,” who lived a few homes away from a bar on Broadway near Houston Street.

However history spins its origin, the classic Manhattan recipe remains the same. 2 ounces of whiskey, 1 ounce of sweet Vermouth, and 2 dashes of bitters. However, the Manhattan can also take alternate forms by using various whiskey types, including bourbon and Canadian whisky.

Now, we take on a new riff on nearly 150 years of tradition with the Bourbon Manhattan and its many variants.


Some would call the Manhattan the most classic cocktail, or the King of Cocktails.

  1. Add the whiskey and the vermouth into a mixing glass filled with ice.
  2. Add a dash of Angostura
  3. Stir using a mixing spoon (shaking it makes the drink blurry)
  4. Strain into a chilled glass (no ice)
  5. Add a cherry in the glass

Volume: 3.0 oz
Alcohol units: 2.9 standard drinks
Alcohol by volume (ABV): 32%


Times viewed: 170571
Average Score: 8.2 (44 votes)


One of the most classic cocktail. Created in 1874 at Manhattan Club in New York.

At that time, most cocktails would include bitters in them, to offset the sweetness of the other ingredients. Many will skip that step nowadays, making the Manhattan simply a Canadian whiskey / Italian vermouth mixed drink.

Related Cocktails

The Gaelic cousin of the popular Manhattan.

A popular rival to the Martini and the Manhattan.

This version of the classic Manhattan incorporates a few additional ingredients that add some sweetness to the classic Manhattan. I think that these additions make this drink more palatable than the traditional Manhattan and accentuate the positive qualities of the Whiskey.

A Manhattan with Apple Brandy

Your run of the mill Manhattan, with the exception that it uses both types of Vermouth, removing the need for bitters by balancing the mixture.

A strong cocktail with the flavor of a past era

User Lists


Post a comment about this drink:

"My" cocktail - when everyone else is drinking jack/coke or gin & tonic or martinis , this is what you'll find me drinking .

Comment by RobbnCO on 2009-01-31 22:12:01

Added by David on 2008-11-15 11:39:55
Last updated on 2009-10-10 11:55:43
Status: Approved

Manhattan Versus Perfect Manhattan

Although they are the same drink, there are some variations. Traditionally, a classic Manhattan is made with rye whiskey or bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The perfect manhattan is made with one unique difference, equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.

For example, if a classic Manhattan is made with 3 parts whiskey to 1 1/2 parts vermouth, we would split the vermouth to 3/4 sweet vermouth and 3/4 dry vermouth, retaining the initial overall vermouth ratio in the cocktail. The perfect Manhattan is a touch lighter in color and bitterness.

Variations on the Manhattan

The deceptively simple Manhattan has everything you need in a cocktail—richness and warmth from the whiskey, the sweetness and complexity of vermouth, and bitters to balance everything out. This trio of classic ingredients makes a perfect starting point for endless Manhattan variations here’s eight to start you off.

The Patriot

This version of the Manhattan stays true to the classic with Jim Beam rye whiskey and Angostura bitters. Get the recipe for The Patriot »

The Clint Eastwood

With slightly spicy Bulleit Bourbon and sweet Italian Amarena cherries, this take on the Manhattan is named for everyone’s favorite Spaghetti Western hero.

The Sidney Poitier

The Bahamian film star would be proud to have inspired this combination of Maker’s Mark bourbon, sweet vermouth and Aztec chocolate bitters. Get the recipe for The Sidney Poitier »

The Whiskey Rebellion

Bulleit rye, two kinds of vermouth, and West Indies orange bitters make up this riff on a Manhattan.

The Civil War

This riff on the Manhattan, composed of Portland-distilled Burnside bourbon, artichoke-flavored Cynar, and old fashioned bitters, uses unusual flavors as a complement to classic ones. See the recipe for The Civil War »

The Bittersweet Symphony

Barrel-aged for one month, this unique Manhattan recipe–with Portland’s Temperance Trader bourbon, two kinds of vermouth, and Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters–is worth the wait. See the recipe for The Bittersweet Symphony »

The Massamanhattan

Julia Travis, the beverage director at New York city restaurant Kin Shop, serves this variation on a Manhattan as a foil for the restaurant’s fiery Thai dishes. Inspired by the rich melange of spices of found in a massaman curry, it’s also perfect for sipping on a chilly evening.



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