Traditional recipes

Manhattan Recipe

Manhattan Recipe

Maryse Chevriere

Manhattan cocktail

You can't go wrong with a classic. This cocktail was said to have been created around 1874 at The Manhattan Club in New York for Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston's mother.


  • 2 ounces American or Canadian whiskey
  • Splash of sweet or dry vermouth
  • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry, for garnish


Stir the ingredients together, then pour into a martini glass and garnish with a cherry.

The Classic Whiskey Manhattan Recipe With Variations

One of, and possibly the all time favourite Manhattan variation, this is a slightly dryer, fruitier more aperitif version of that wonderful family of cocktails. If you like the Manhattan but think it’s a little too sweet, this could be the drink for you..
50ml (1 2/3 oz) whiskey (Bulleit Rye).
20ml (2/3 oz) dry vermouth (Noilly Prat).
7.5ml (1/4 oz) Amer Picon.
5-6 ml (1/5 oz or a barspoon) Luxardo maraschino liqueur.
Orange twist garnish (although lemon is also accepted).
Stir on good ice (with an unnecessarily long barspoon), strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Fold your twist over the drink to expel the oils and as an added citrus pop, rub the twist over the stem and top of the glass. This will keep the flavours alive longer..
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Step 1

Fill a short glass 2/3 full with ice. Add bitters, vermouth, and bourbon. Add cherry (and crush it against the side of the glass with a spoon). Stir.

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In Search of the Ultimate Manhattan

We all know there’s a Perfect Manhattan—that is, the kind that’s splits the vermouth quotient between sweet and dry varieties. But is there a perfect Manhattan?

The PUNCH staff decided to find out, culling recipes for the classic cocktail from 17 leading bartenders across America and sampling them in a blind tasting. Joining PUNCH in the tasting were bartenders Meaghan Dorman (Raines Law Room, Dear Irving, The Bennett), Joaquín Simó (Pouring Ribbons), Sother Teague (Amor y Amargo) and this reporter.

If ever a cocktail was worth the bother of such an evaluation, it’s the Manhattan. The whiskey drink’s place in the cocktail pantheon has never been questioned since it emerged from its namesake borough in the 1870s to become a national and international favorite. The Manhattan was the first of the great modern cocktails of the late-19th-century golden age of mixology to make use of vermouth as an ingredient. It predated even the mighty Martini.

Some early recipes called for equal-parts whiskey and sweet vermouth, while others asked for dry vermouth. The variety of bitters used, too, ranged wildly. But by the 1930s, the cocktail had settled down to the now familiar two-parts whiskey, one-part sweet vermouth, dash of bitters formula we recognize today as a Manhattan.

Unlike other classic cocktails, the Manhattan was never completely forgotten by the drinking public during the dark ages at the end of the last century. But it did frequently suffer from the indignities of bottom-shelf liquor, spoiled vermouth, absent bitters and maraschino cherries that had never seen a tree branch. Perhaps because of this, modern bartenders have made it a point of pride to serve a superior version of the drink.

In a blind tasting, the team sampled 17 Manhattans from bartenders across America.

The first decision when crafting a Manhattan is, of course, whether to use rye or bourbon. The bias of young bartenders toward rye was evident 12 or the 17 submitted recipes were made with the spicier spirit. The majority of panelists, too, admitted to preferring a rye Manhattan. “This is the problem with bourbon Manhattans: not enough spice notes,” declared Teague.

Still, Simó, waxing philosophical, allowed that, “It’s less about the rye. All of the ingredients in the cocktail are great on their own. But a great Manhattan is two plus two equals five. For me, a Manhattan is an idea. And there are so many roads to go there.”

The roads taken by the bartenders who were summoned, however, were relatively narrow. There was one recipe that used dry vermouth instead of sweet. Another threw in a couple dashes of Herbsaint. A third spec asked for a Tennessee whiskey. But, by and large, we were dealing with drinks made of whiskey (rye or bourbon sometimes a mix of two bourbons, or two ryes, or a bourbon and a rye), sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters, though a few entries did opt for other varieties, such as Peychaud’s or orange bitters.

“I use free license to use whatever bitters I want based on the whiskey and vermouth,” said Teague. Asked about bartender mistakes they had encountered when ordering Manhattans, the panelists all cited shaken Manhattans as the most common sin, but a few also pointed to the omission of bitters (“Bitters is that central spoke” to the drink, Simó said) and the tendency of some bars mix them with too little vermouth, thinking they’re doing the customer a favor with a heavier pour of whiskey.

After the first round of tastings, only seven of the 17 Manhattans made the cut. The other ten were thought imbalanced in one way or another. Some were considered too thin, lacking body. Others were deemed flat and flabby, the victim of too much or too heavy a vermouth, or a whiskey with insufficient authority. Overall, the rye Manhattans were preferred over the bourbon entries, though two bourbon Manhattans did make the finals.

In the final estimation, the panelists—who registered only their first, second and third favorites—veered toward the Manhattans that clung most closely to the drink’s classic profile.

The top vote-getter, by New York bartender Jeremy Oertel (Death & Co.), couldn’t have been more classic: two-and-a-half ounces of Rittenhouse rye, one ounce of Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth and two dashes of Angostura bitters. The panel found the cocktail rich and full-bodied, with notes of cocoa nibs on the finish.

Close behind in the vote tally was a rendition by one of the judges himself, Joaquín Simó. Simó split the spirit base with one ounce each of Rittenhouse rye and Russell’s Reserve 10-year-old bourbon. The sweet vermouth, too, was divided: one half-ounce of Cinzano and one half-ounce of Martelletti Classico. Even the bitters were a double act, with one dash of Angostura and one dash of Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters.

A bourbon Manhattan by Caitlin Laman (formerly of Trick Dog) came in third. Her two-parts whiskey to one-part vermouth, plus Angostura, formula was classic, but her liquor choices unusual. The bourbon was the oft-overlooked Johnny Drum 101, and the vermouth was the California-made Tempus Fugit Alessio Vermouth di Torino.

What can be learned from the fate of the other 14 drinks? Older whiskeys fared better with the panel then younger ones did. And rye was vastly more popular than bourbon. (Among the general public, the opposite is true.) Perhaps the biggest lesson was that a little cleverness goes only a short way. It’s fun to play around with classic cocktail specs. But the Manhattan model has probably stood the test of time for so long because it works.

It also became clear that that model, or what we expect it to be, is strikingly consistent amongst drinkers: Given the many choices, there was remarkable consensus among the panelists. Oertel’s and Simó’s Manhattans were chosen by every single judge. If the Manhattan is an idea, as Simó said, we all seemed to share the same one.

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.

Virgin Manhattan

Steering clear of alcoholic beverages doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the highlights of classic cocktails like the Manhattan. Melding bitters with non-alcoholic wine, vanilla extract, and apple juice closely mimics the popular beverage. The bitters add complexity to this mocktail while the vanilla extract takes place of the whiskey. As for the zero-proof wine and apple juice combo, it is used in place of sweet vermouth. The end result is a multidimensional mocktail that is potent and slightly bitter with herb and spice fueled undertones. Simply mix, stir, strain and you’re done! Along with being delicious, this alcohol-free version is a bit sweeter making it much more approachable for those whose palates aren’t as keenly honed. Try pairing this virgin Manhattan with a steak simply seasoned with coarse salt and black pepper on a cozy evening in or make virgin manhattans for a crowd accompanied by fig and arugula flatbreads if you’re playing host

Virgin Manhattan Ingredients

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 ½ ounces sweet non-alcoholic red wine

1 ounce non-alcoholic vanilla extract

1 ounce unsweetened apple juice

Directions for your Non-Alcoholic Manhattan

Add ice to a mixing glass with the bitters, non-alcoholic wine, vanilla extract, and apple juice. Stir.

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Add the cherry and use a spoon to crush it against the side of the glass. Stir again.

Note: Although alcohol-based, two dashes of bitters contain trace amounts of alcohol meaning this mocktail is still considered non-alcoholic.

History of the Manhattan cocktail (before the Virgin)

History of the classy cocktail goes back to mid-1870s and early 1880s. It is said to be invented at a banquet hosted in honour of Samuel J. Tilden – who was the presidential candidate, by Jennie Jerome at the Manhattan Club in New York City. The banquet was a huge success and as a result the drink got its share of limelight too. In future get togethers, people requested for the same drink they had at the Manhattan Club and that’s how it got the name. Dr. Iain Marshall is said to be the one who concocted this drink. The cocktail is also mentioned in some prominent books of the century on various cocktail with details of their recipes.

Traditionally, the standard Manhattan cocktail is a mix of two parts of rye whiskey, one part of sweet vermouth, two dashes of bitters served with a cherry on top. However, people have changed the type of whiskey to suit their taste buds. Now, a variety of whiskey ranging from Bourbon to blended to Canadian to Tennessee are used for making this sultry iconic cocktail.

The cocktail is subjected to considerable number of variations. For instance, virgin Manhattan or a Manhattan mocktail is a non-alcoholic concoction for tea-totaler. The drink is not spiked by addition of any kind of whiskey or any other alcohol and is suitable for serving people of all ages. This mocktail is a mix of 2 parts of cranberry juice, 2 parts of orange juice, ½ teaspoon of cherry juice and ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice along with 2 dashes off orange bitters and served with a garnish of Maraschino cherry for that classic look.

In addition to these, there are other variations to these cocktails too that are made by altering the proportions or changing the alcohol type in it.


This is a standard Manhattan ratio. Rye is the traditional whiskey to use, there are quite a few top shelf ryes that we like to use, our current favorite is Rittenhouse. For vermouth we use Carpano Antica and Fee Bros bitters. Cherries are Luxardo. Most people remember the ratio of a Manhattan as the area code for Manhattan, 212. 2 oz Rye, 1 oz good, FRESH vermouth and 2 dashes bitters.

Ditto on the proportion. I use as much bourbon as my mood dictates, but almost always use just about a capful of vermouth. I also prefer my drink a tad sweet so I will sometimes add a teaspoon of cherry juice. I tried Jim Beam, Knob Creek, and other more expensive brands, but Maker's is still my preferred, too. I think a very cold drink tastes best, too.

I agree with the previous reviewer that the ratio is too high, but I totally disagree about using Jack Daniels. I did that once when JD was all we had, and it was awful. Maker's Mark is my 'house' bourbon for mixing. I will make a manhattan again, but not using these proportions.

I think the 2:1 ratio of whiskey to vermouth is a bit high - I much prefer a 4:1 ratio. And I always use Jack Daniels No. 7. I recently made a manhattan with Old Potrero Rye Whiskey (as opposed to the OP Spirit - much higher proof, but still wonderful), and I was totally amazed. This was by far the best Manhattan I've had, using rye. At $60 a bottle, using the OP Rye is a bit extravagant for me, but for very special occasions, it was a wonderful treat. Try it sometime if you can.

Manhattan Recipe - Recipes

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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.

Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

I was sent a couple of gorgeous glasses from my cousin who had split up items from my Aunt Eddie and Aunt Patsy’s estate. Sadly one of them was broken in transit so of course I wanted it more than ever. I had the urge to make a Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe and knew I needed a champagne coupe to represent how it was classically made.

The perfect opportunity was at hand to feature this storied cocktail during a ‘Mad Men’ party a group of bloggers decided to throw to commemorate the final season of the television show that so many are hooked on. I wanted to make a traditional cocktail of the era and I wanted it in the right glass, doggone it! Nothing else would do for serving this Classic Manhattan!

I searched high and low I went online and found some by Kate Spade, she of the overpriced designer category, and others by Waterford, still overpriced but a name that I would more proudly attribute to my stemware. I finally found the perfect reasonably priced glasses by Libbey (remember, I just wanted them for a couple of photos) but I was not interested in an entire case. Drat!!

I was definitely a woman on a mission so I called YaYa’s in the Denver Tech Center, my favorite restaurant, hoping they had some on their shelves that I could borrow. Turns out the manager did one better! When I talked to Scott, he said they didn’t have any in the restaurant but he thought he had some at home packed away.

Scott offered to check and let me know. The following morning his email was like a gift, he had found his cache and would drop off a package at YaYa’s for me to pickup. Tell me, how many restaurant managers will do that for you? YaYa’s will always fix mussels the way I like them no matter what the current menu offering is and I love them for that but this was over and beyond.

Many thanks Scott. What? I can keep the glasses too? All FOUR of them? I already thought you the best and now my readers know why…I LOVE these glasses!

This Classic Manhattan Cocktail is an elegant cocktail with a rich history some of it fabricated to lend more glory to its name but all leading to it originating in Manhattan, one of the five Burroughs of New York City. By all accounts it originated in the later part of the 19th century and has seen a resurgence often attributed to the popularity of ‘Mad Men‘ – the television show chronicles the lives and social mores of the 1960′s in America.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t expect to be a fan. Let’s just say that my parents both enjoyed a Manhattan. They were a part of that 60′s generation that drank too much and partied too hard there were affairs and a divorce and in a real soap opera twist a re-marriage. By them. To each other.

Watching that play out on the small screen hit a bit too close to home so I kept my distance from the show for the first couple of years until a friend insisted I do a marathon with her and doggone it I was hooked. Truth is I had also kept my distance from a Manhattan all these many years for many of the same reasons and that was another error in judgement on my part.

This is no lightweight drink. Recognizing that my taste in wine has segued from Boone’s Farm to a nice Cabernet over the years, I’m quite certain that if someone had introduced me to this cocktail those many years ago it would have been received less than favorably. This is booze, pure and simple.

Despite some controversy over where it began, one area without controversy is the continued popularity of the drink. It is still considered one of the finest cocktails ever conceived and on every bar’s list of best cocktails.

Purists (who are these people anyhow. ) presume that the only way to create a Manhattan is with Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth and Bitters but there are those who cry sacrilege if not using Dry Vermouth. Most concede that Rye Whiskey is the liquor of choice and I love Templeton Rye but bartender choices run the gamut from Bourbon to Rye to Canadian Whiskey.

For me it has to be Rye but I’m more forgiving with the Vermouth depending on tastes, personally preferring Sweet Vermouth. Bitters are seeing a huge boon in popularity right now and the choices are endless but this is a Manhattan and Angostura bitters are a must. Sometimes something is so good that you simply don’t mess with that success!

When I originally posted about this Classic Manhattan Cocktail it was in conjunction with a bunch of blogging friends who were verklempt over the ending of the Mad Men television series. I had originally created a post with both a cocktail and an appetizer never again. Hard to find one if the focus is on the other so here’s the delicious Mushroom and Walnut Pate recipe!

While this reboot had me clean up some of the focus on that event from a couple of years ago I would be remiss to remove these recipes…a great collection of food and drink from that era.