Manhattan cocktail on wooden table

Manhattan Cocktail

By Timo Torner / Last updated on November 30, 2022

The Manhattan cocktail is one of the most influential classic cocktails. It is an easy-to-make drink that requires only three ingredients.

The Manhattan is a sophisticated Whiskey drink balanced by sweet Vermouth and enhanced with aromatic bitters. A timeless concoction has everything a fantastic cocktail needs.

During the late 19th century, there hardly was another mixed drink as popular as the Manhattan. The history of the Rye cocktail is a bit murky, but it seems as if it dates back to the 1860s. -invented by one mysterious Mr. Black.

Jump to Recipe | Ingredients | How to make it | Variations | FAQs

Manhattan Cocktail Ingredients

The Whiskey-based recipe calls for the following three ingredients.

  • Whiskey - The Manhattan can be made with either Rye or Bourbon. Although Rye Whiskey is preferable due to its spicier taste. When you order a Sweet Manhattan you will always get one with Bourbon.
  • Sweet Vermouth - Vermouth is a flavored and fortified wine. The harmonious interplay of Rye and Sweet Vermouth is also one main reason most bartenders opt for the spicy Whiskey.
  • Angostura aromatic bitters - Aromatic cocktail bitters are alcoholic infusions of various herbs and spices. A dash is enough to alter the taste of a drink and marry the flavors of the other ingredients.

Optionally, you can garnish your Manhattan with a brandied or Maraschino cherry

How to make it

As with other drinks only containing alcoholic ingredients, the Manhattan needs to be stirred - never shaken.

Step 1: Chill a Nick & Nora glass in the freezer or fill it with ice.

Step 2: Add all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until the drink is chilled. Typically, that takes between 18 - 25 seconds, depending on the temperature of the ingredients and the quality of the ice.

Step 3: Strain the drink into the chilled (and empty) Nick & Nora glass and garnish the drink with a Maraschino cherry speared on a cocktail pick (optional).

Manhattan with strainer and Whiskey decanter on the side

Variations

Over the years, the drink led to a considerable number of riffs:

  • Black Manhattan - By replacing Sweet Vermouth with Averna Amaro, an even more complex liqueur, you get a complex and very aromatic riff on the traditional recipe.
  • Dry Manhattan - This dryer version of a Manhattan replaces Sweet with Dry Vermouth. The resulting drink is far less sweet with more pronounced herbal and bitter notes.
  • Rob Roy aka. Scotch Manhattan - Instead of Bourbon or Rye, this twist employs Scotch Whisky. Don't use an overly peated bottle. Go for blended Scotch instead.
  • Perfect Manhattan - This twist is one for Manhattan aficionados. The Perfect Manhattan splits the Vermouth part into 50% Dry and 50% Sweet Vermouth. The difference to the standard recipe is very nuanced.

Manhattan Rye Whiskey Cocktail

Manhattan

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: whiskey
Servings: 1
Calories: 198kcal
Cost: $3.30

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash Orange bitters
  • 1 pcs Maraschino cherry

Instructions

  • Put all ingredients into a mixing glass and add ice.
    2 oz Rye Whiskey, 1 oz Sweet Vermouth, 2 dashes Angostura bitters, 1 dash Orange bitters
  • Stir well until the cocktail is chilled.
  • Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  • Garnish your Manhattan with a Maraschino cherry.
    1 pcs Maraschino cherry

Nutrition

Serving: 3.25oz | Calories: 198kcal | Carbohydrates: 6.6g | Potassium: 1mg | Sugar: 6.6g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned cocktail?

The key difference is the sweetener. While Sweet Vermouth is used to sweeten a Manhattan cocktail, an Old Fashioned uses a sugar cube (or simple syrup).

What type of cocktail is a Manhattan?

The Manhattan is a classic Whiskey cocktail made of three ingredients: Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, and bitters.

Do you shake a Manhattan?

No, a Manhattan is supposed to be stirred. As a rule of thumb, all cocktail recipes only made of alcoholic ingredients are stirred.

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