Black Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on June 30, 2023

The Black Manhattan is a simple and aromatic riff on the traditional Manhattan cocktail. It adds a bitter touch to the boozy classic.
Black Manhattan cocktail with Maraschino cherry

When bartender Todd Smith invented the Black Manhattan recipe in 2005, he adjusted the old recipe by changing one main thing: he used Amaro Averna instead of Sweet Vermouth. 

His Black Manhattan is rich in taste, slightly boozier, a bit heavier than the original recipe, but also more flavorful. The subtle notes of licorice, juniper, sage, and rosemary make the cocktail special. -A delight for every Manhattan lover.

Quick Facts Black Manhattan Cocktail

  • Method: stirred
  • Flavor profile: boozy, slightly bitter
  • How to serve it: straight up
  • Best glassware: Coupe Glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 29%, 27 grams of alcohol per serving

A simple twist on the original. But an effective one. The addition of Amaro makes the cocktail more complex, with a lot more herbal bitterness.

Black Manhattan cocktail with Maraschino cherry

Black Manhattan Recipe

A boozy riff on the original Manhattan cocktail, swapping Amaro Averna for Sweet Vermouth.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: amaro, angostura, Averna, rye
Servings: 1
Calories: 234kcal
Cost: $4.80


  • 1 Jigger
  • 1 Mixing glass
  • 1 Bar spoon
  • 1 Hawthorne Strainer


  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Amaro Averna
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash Orange cocktail bitters
  • 1-2 Maraschino cherry


  • Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with plenty of ice.
    2 oz Rye Whiskey, 1 oz Amaro Averna, 1 dash Angostura bitters, 1 dash Orange cocktail bitters
  • Stir with a bar spoon for 20 to 25 seconds until the contents are well-chilled.
  • Grab a strainer and strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a Maraschino Cherry.
    1-2 Maraschino cherry


Serving: 3.25ozCalories: 234kcalCarbohydrates: 6.88gPotassium: 1mgSugar: 6.88g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

What's in it - Ingredients & Recommendations

The black variation of the classic Manhattan not only swaps in Amaro Averna for Sweet Vermouth. Todd Smith also added extra cocktail bitters. So here's the list of ingredients for a Black Manhattan cocktail, including the classy garnish:

  • Rye Whiskey: a spicy type of whiskey that suits the complex flavor profile of this Black Manhattan perfectly. Try a Wild Turkey Rye or - if you have a little more budget - the Whislepig 10 years. Or you try Rittenhouse Rye, which secure the top spot a blind tasting by punchdrink.
  • Amaro Averna: Amaro Averna is a sweet, spicy, and herbal representative with flavors of sage, juniper, licorice, and a hint of chocolate. It is a lot more bitter than Vermouth (a fortified wine) but less than Campari, for example.
  • Angostura bitters & Orange cocktail bitters: find more in the bitters department, including our recommendations, below.
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish: a proper Black Manhattan cocktail is garnished with a cherry skewered on a cocktail pick. Don't use those bright red and cheap cocktail cherries. Use genuine Maraschino cherries instead. It's not only about looks. The real ones also have an actually pleasant taste.

By the way, if you don't have Averna at home and can't find it in a store, you can replace it with a similar Amaro. Ramazzotti and Amaro Meletti are great substitutes for Amaro Averna. But if you have neither, there are some more options. Here you can find the best substitutes for Averna.

Cocktail Bitters in the Black Manhattan

The traditional recipe uses regular Angostura Aromatic Bitters to add depth to the cocktail. In this Black Manhattan variation, Amaro Averna adds another complex layer of flavor, rounded off beautifully with the help of orange cocktail bitters.

For orange cocktail bitters, there are some superb choices available. I recommend using Angostura orange bitters or Regan's orange bitters No.6. Both are premium quality and bring a delicate fruity orange flavor to the drink.

Black Manhattan Cocktail with Maraschino cherries on pick

Tips for Mixing

The Black Manhatten consists of alcoholic ingredients only and, as such, is prepared in a mixing glass and served without ice - straight up. Two things are important here:

  • the amount of dilution
  • keeping the drink chilled for as long as possible

For the first part, make sure you fill your mixing glass with plenty of ice cubes. Then stir for 20 to 25 seconds to chill the drink and water it down just enough. That also will help with the second because, after 20 seconds, the content of your mixing glass will be nice and cool.

For further help with the second, put your glass in the freezer or cool it by filling it with ice cubes while mixing. Remove the ice and the water before pouring. Plus, use a vessel with a stem so you don't warm the Black Manhattan with your hand while sipping it.

Who invented the Black Manhattan?

As I mentioned, the Black Manhattan was invented by bartender Todd Smith back in 2005. He has created this flavorful twist on the original Manhattan while working at Bourbon & Branch, his 1920s-style cocktail bar in San Francisco.

It didn't take long for the rich and bittersweet variation to gain fans all around the globe. The distinct herbal notes and the slight spiciness of Smith's version made the cocktail an instant modern classic.

More Popular Riffs on Classic Recipes

If you like to experiment with the vintage classics, how about trying one of these recipes:

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