Made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, a Manhattan is a classic cocktail with a long history and an almost unchanging recipe. And it’s a strong drink, too!

A Manhattan cocktail in a coup glass.
Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Manhattan Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for a Manhattan.

Ingredient notes

  • Whiskey: Rye whiskey, the traditional choice for a Manhattan, has a spicy, aggressive flavor and its mash must be made from at least 51% rye. Bourbon is sweeter in flavor and its mash must be made from at least 51% corn. It also must be made in the United States to be called “bourbon.”
  • Sweet vermouth: A fortified wine (made from grapes) that tastes sweet and bitter with notes of botanicals (herbs, roots, and barks) and caramel.
  • Cherry: I prefer Luxardo brand cherries or brandied cherries in a Manhattan.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, add whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. Fill glass ¾ full with ice. Using a bar spoon, stir until well chilled, about 30-45 seconds.
Making a manhattan cocktail in a mixing glass.
  1. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
A Manhattan cocktail in a coup glass.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 1 cocktail.
  • Glassware: The Manhattan is traditionally served in a cocktail glass (similar to a martini glass) or a coupe glass.
  • Big batch: To make a batch of 8 cocktails, combine 16 ounces (2 cups) whiskey, 8 ounces (1 cup) sweet vermouth, and 20 dashes bitters in a pitcher. Have ice, glassware, and garnishes on hand so guests can help themselves.
  • Garnish: Instead of the maraschino cherry, an orange peel is another classic garnish. Some creative mixologists will substitute a lemon peel.
  • Cherry juice: For extra sweetness, add a splash of maraschino cherry juice.
  • Shaken, not stirred: For a frothy surface, shake the cocktail with ice in a shaker before straining into a chilled glass.
  • Brooklyn cocktail: Substitute ½ ounce (1 tbsp.) EACH dry vermouth and maraschino liqueur for the sweet vermouth. Substitute Picon bitters for the angostura bitters.
  • Brandy Manhattan: Substitute brandy for the whiskey (especially popular in Wisconsin and Minnesota).
  • Cuban Manhattan: Substitute dark rum for the whiskey.
  • Dry Manhattan: Substitute dry vermouth for the sweet vermouth and substitute a lemon twist for the maraschino cherry.
  • Perfect Manhattan: Equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.
  • Rob Roy: Substitute Scotch whisky for the rye whiskey.
A Manhattan cocktail in a coup glass.

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A Manhattan cocktail in a coup glass.

Manhattan

Made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, a Manhattan is a classic cocktail with a long history and an almost unchanging recipe. And it's a strong drink, too!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 mins
Total Time 2 mins
Servings 1 cocktail
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Calories 198

Ingredients 

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey or bourbon whiskey (¼ cup, see note 1)
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth (2 tablespoons, see note 2)
  • 2 to 3 dashes old-fashioned bitters or Angostura bitters (⅛ teaspoon)
  • 1 Maraschino cherry or orange peel, for garnish (see note 3)

Instructions 

  • In a mixing glass, add whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. Fill glass ¾ full with ice. Using a bar spoon, stir until well chilled, about 30-45 seconds.
  • Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or an orange peel.

Notes

  1. Whiskey: Rye whiskey, the traditional choice for a Manhattan, has a spicy, aggressive flavor and its mash must be made from at least 51% rye. Bourbon is sweeter in flavor and its mash must be made from at least 51% corn. It also must be made in the United States to be called “bourbon.”
  2. Sweet vermouth: A fortified wine (made from grapes) that tastes sweet and bitter with notes of botanicals (herbs, roots, and barks) and caramel.
  3. Cherry: I prefer Luxardo brand cherries or brandied cherries in a Manhattan. 
  4. Yield: This recipe makes 1 cocktail.
  5. Glassware: The Manhattan is traditionally served in a cocktail glass (similar to a martini glass) or a coupe glass.
  6. Big batch: To make a batch of 8 cocktails, combine 16 ounces (2 cups) whiskey, 8 ounces (1 cup) sweet vermouth, and 20 dashes bitters in a pitcher. Have ice, glassware, and garnishes on hand so guests can help themselves.
  7. Garnish: Instead of the maraschino cherry, an orange peel is another classic garnish. Some creative mixologists will substitute a lemon peel.
  8. Cherry juice: For extra sweetness, add a splash of maraschino cherry juice.
  9. Shaken, not stirred: For a frothy surface, shake the cocktail with ice in a shaker before straining into a chilled glass.
  10. Brooklyn cocktail: Substitute ½ ounce (1 tbsp.) EACH dry vermouth and maraschino liqueur for the sweet vermouth. Substitute Picon bitters for the angostura bitters.
  11. Brandy Manhattan: Substitute brandy for the whiskey (especially popular in Wisconsin and Minnesota).
  12. Cuban Manhattan: Substitute dark rum for the whiskey.
  13. Dry Manhattan: Substitute dry vermouth for the sweet vermouth and substitute a lemon twist for the maraschino cherry.
  14. Perfect Manhattan: Equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.
  15. Rob Roy: Substitute Scotch whisky for the rye whiskey.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cocktailCalories: 198kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 5mgPotassium: 85mgFiber: 1gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 2IUCalcium: 9mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill

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