Easy & Eloquent Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

Important Note: When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Content, pricing, offers and availability are subject to change at any time - more info.

Ah, the Manhattan, a cocktail as timeless as its namesake city. The classic combination of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters has been tantalizing taste buds since the 19th century. And with our recipe, you’ll be able to craft this elegant elixir in its many whiskey and bourbon variations, making it the perfect drink to impress your friends and enhance any gathering. So whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or an amateur bartender, let’s dive into the delectable history and science behind this sophisticated concoction.

One might think that with a drink as legendary as the Manhattan, its recipe would be set in stone. But the beauty of this tipple lies in its endless adaptability. By experimenting with different types of whiskey (such as rye, bourbon, or even Irish whiskey), sweet vermouths, and bitters, you’ll uncover a world of flavors worthy of any palate. In fact, the secret to a truly exceptional Manhattan often lies in striking the perfect balance between these ingredients, a feat of culinary alchemy that can be both an art and a science. So why not let your inner mixologist shine and embark on a journey through the rich tapestry of global whiskey traditions? Trust us, your taste buds will thank you. Now, if you’re ready to discover the magic of the Manhattan, join us in the next section where we’ll reveal our fail-proof recipe that’ll make you the toast of the town!

Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 182kcal


  • Cocktail shaker or mixing glass
  • Bar spoon
  • Strainer
  • Chilled coupe or martini glass


  • 2 oz whiskey or bourbon choose your favorite, but rye whiskey is a classic choice
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry or orange twist for garnish
  • Ice


  • Begin by chilling your coupe or martini glass in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. This will help keep your Manhattan nice and cold as you sip. But this is optional if you are in a hurry.
  • In a cocktail shaker or mixing glass, combine the whiskey or bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters. The bitters add a unique depth of flavor to the cocktail.
  • Fill the shaker or mixing glass with ice, then stir the ingredients together using a bar spoon. Stirring, rather than shaking, helps to maintain the silky texture of the whiskey and vermouth while still chilling and diluting the cocktail just enough.
  • Once the cocktail is well mixed and chilled, usually after about 20-30 seconds of stirring, place a strainer over the shaker or mixing glass and pour the Manhattan into your chilled coupe or martini glass.
  • Garnish your Manhattan with a Maraschino cherry or an orange twist, depending on your preference. The cherry adds a touch of sweetness, while the orange twist brings a hint of citrus aroma to the drink.
  • Enjoy your Manhattan cocktail responsibly, and feel free to experiment with different whiskey or bourbon variations to find your perfect match. Cheers!


Prep time is about 5 minutes. Just make sure to chill your glass for at least 15 minutes before serving for the best experience.


Calories: 182kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 0.03g | Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 0.2mg | Potassium: 2mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.03mg

Notes & Tips

  • Choosing your whiskey: While rye whiskey is the classic choice for a Manhattan, don’t be afraid to experiment with other types of whiskey or bourbon. Each variety brings its own unique flavor profile to the cocktail, so have fun finding your favorite! And remember, quality matters – a higher quality whiskey will elevate your cocktail to new heights.
  • Vermouth matters too: Sweet vermouth is an essential component of the Manhattan, and using a good quality vermouth can make a world of difference. Keep your vermouth refrigerated after opening to maintain its freshness, and consider trying out different brands to find one that complements your whiskey of choice.
  • A twist on the garnish: While Maraschino cherries and orange twists are the most common garnishes, you can also try using cocktail onions or even a sprig of fresh rosemary to add an unexpected twist to your Manhattan. Just make sure not to overcrowd the glass – after all, the whole point is to enjoy the cocktail itself!
    • Innovative sweetness: Continuing on the topic of garnishes, for those who prefer a sweeter touch, experiment by incorporating a spoonful of cherry juice from the Maraschino cherry container. This addition will enhance the cocktail with a velvety, sweet undertone, further elevating the overall experience. Go for two if you like it extra sweet but one is a perfect addition.
  • Stir, don’t shake: As James Bond’s martini preferences might have misled you, not all cocktails should be shaken. The Manhattan is best stirred rather than shaken to avoid over-diluting the drink and to maintain its smooth texture. Plus, stirring allows you to control the dilution more easily, so you can tailor your cocktail to your desired taste.
  • Know your ratios: If you prefer a slightly sweeter or drier Manhattan, feel free to adjust the ratio of whiskey to vermouth. A perfect Manhattan calls for equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, while a reverse Manhattan switches the ratio for a lighter, more vermouth-forward take on the classic.
  • A global celebration: While the Manhattan is undoubtedly an American classic, its ingredients come from all around the world. Whiskey has its roots in Scotland and Ireland, vermouth hails from Italy, and Angostura bitters are a product of Trinidad and Tobago. So while you’re sipping your classy Manhattan, you’re also taking a little trip around the globe – no passport required!
  • Make-ahead magic: If you’re hosting a gathering and want to save time, consider making a large batch of Manhattans in advance. Combine your whiskey, vermouth, and bitters in a large container, and store it in the fridge until guests arrive. Pour individual servings over ice, stir, strain, and garnish for quick and easy Manhattans that’ll impress even the most discerning cocktail connoisseur.
  • Experiment: Not experimenting is a common mistake. The beauty of a cocktail like the Manhattan is its versatility. Don’t be afraid to try different combinations of whiskey, vermouth, or even bitters to find your perfect match. Embrace your inner mixologist and let your creativity flow!

Substitutions & Alternatives

Fear not, fellow cocktail enthusiasts! If you find yourself short on ingredients or simply in the mood to mix things up, we’ve got you covered with these creative substitutions and alternatives for your next Manhattan adventure.

Whiskey or Bourbon: Rye whiskey is the traditional choice, but feel free to use your favorite whiskey or bourbon. Looking to expand your global palate? Try swapping in a smoky Scotch or an Irish whiskey for an international twist. Just remember that the quality of your whiskey will greatly impact the overall taste of the cocktail, so choose wisely!

Sweet Vermouth: If you don’t have sweet vermouth on hand, try using a dry vermouth or even a red wine as a substitute. Keep in mind that using a different type of vermouth or wine will change the flavor profile of your Manhattan, so be prepared to embrace the taste adventure. If you’re feeling extra daring, give an Italian amaro a whirl for a herbal, bittersweet flair.

Angostura Bitters: While Angostura bitters are a classic ingredient in a Manhattan, there’s a world of bitters waiting to be explored! Try orange bitters for a citrusy twist or chocolate bitters for a sweet surprise. Love some heat? Spice things up with a dash of chili bitters. Experimenting with different bitters can impart a whole new dimension to your Manhattan experience.

Garnish: The classic Maraschino cherry or the zesty orange twist are both excellent choices, but why not get a little creative with your garnish game? Swap the cherry for a brandied cherry or try a homemade cocktail cherry for a treat that’s all your own. Feeling a little nutty? Add a toasted pecan or walnut for a tasty crunch. And if you’re a fan of combining sweet and savory flavors, give a bacon-wrapped cherry or blue cheese-stuffed olive a try. The garnish possibilities are endless!

Glassware: While a chilled coupe or martini glass makes for a classy presentation, don’t be afraid to serve your Manhattan in your favorite glass. After all, it’s what’s inside that counts, right? Just make sure to chill your glass of choice for the best sipping experience.

With these substitutions and alternatives in hand, you’re now equipped to customize your Manhattan cocktail to your heart’s content. So raise a glass to your newfound mixology prowess and toast to your creativity. Cheers!

Serving Ideas

The Manhattan cocktail is the epitome of sophistication and class, perfect for a swanky soiree or a solo nightcap. Let’s explore some creative serving ideas to elevate your cocktail hour and impress your friends (even if it’s just over a video call!).

Movie Night Magic: Pair your Manhattan with a black-and-white classic film marathon. Channel your inner Audrey Hepburn or Humphrey Bogart as you sip on this timeless cocktail while enjoying some silver screen masterpieces.

Tapas Time: Manhattan cocktails and small bites go hand in hand. Create a spread of tapas-style dishes, such as olives, cured meats, and cheese, to accompany your elegant libation. The bold flavors of the cocktail will complement the savory treats, creating a delightful dining experience.

International Affair: Celebrate the Manhattan’s global culinary heritage by trying different whiskey or bourbon variations from around the world. Sample Irish, Canadian, or Japanese whiskies to put a unique spin on this classic American cocktail. Talk about a whiskey world tour!

Mad Men Party: Host a 1960s-themed party inspired by the popular TV series Mad Men. Don your finest vintage attire and sip on Manhattans while listening to some smooth jazz tunes. It’s a surefire way to feel like an advertising mogul (without any of the drama)!

DIY Garnish Bar: Set up a garnish station with a variety of options, such as Maraschino cherries, orange twists, lemon peels, and even a dash of gourmet chocolate shavings. Encourage your guests (or yourself!) to experiment with flavors and create their own signature Manhattan.

Ice, Ice Baby: For a unique presentation, make Manhattan ice spheres by freezing the cocktail in spherical ice molds. When ready to serve, place the frozen Manhattan sphere in a glass and pour a small amount of whiskey over it. As the ice melts, your cocktail will slowly reveal itself, providing an interactive and exciting experience.

Now you’re equipped with serving ideas that will make your Manhattan cocktail the talk of the town (or at least your living room). Remember, the key to a great cocktail is to have fun experimenting and personalizing it to your taste. So raise a glass to the art of mixology, and cheers to your newfound Manhattan expertise!

Storage & Saving For Later

Now that you’ve become a master mixologist and crafted the perfect Manhattan cocktail, let’s talk about storage and reheating…or rather, re-chilling! While it’s true that this classy concoction is best enjoyed freshly mixed, we understand that life can be unpredictable and sometimes require a break from sipping your elegant elixir.

Fear not, dear cocktail connoisseur! The Manhattan is a resilient drink that can handle a brief pause in the festivities. If you find yourself needing to step away from your delightful beverage, simply cover your glass with a small plate or plastic wrap to keep any pesky dust or fruit flies at bay. Your marvelous Manhattan will patiently await your return.

Now, let’s say you’ve returned to your awaiting libation, only to find that it’s lost some of its signature chill. Of course, we can’t have that! The correct temperature is crucial to fully appreciate the harmonious blend of whiskey, vermouth, and bitters. To restore your Manhattan to its optimal temperature, grab a handful of ice and your trusty bar spoon. Gently stir the ice into the cocktail for about 15-20 seconds, taking care not to bruise the delicate balance of flavors. Once you’ve achieved the desired chill, strain the ice out using your strainer and return the now-revitalized drink to your glass.

With your Manhattan back in prime sipping condition, you can continue to enjoy its refined flavors and rich history rooted in the bustling streets of New York City. Remember to savor each sip responsibly and relish in your newfound expertise as a Manhattan mixologist. Cheers to you and your impeccable taste!

Variations For Dietary Needs

The beauty of the Manhattan cocktail lies in its simplicity, making it a great candidate for variations and customization to suit different tastes and dietary preferences. Here are some ideas to make this classic cocktail work for you:

Vegan: Good news, plant-based pals! The Manhattan cocktail is naturally vegan. Just make sure to choose a vegan-friendly whiskey or bourbon (most are, but some use animal-derived products during filtration), and a vegan Maraschino cherry brand (some use a red dye derived from insects). Cheers to compassionate sipping!

Gluten-free: For gluten-sensitive imbibers, swap the whiskey or bourbon with a gluten-free alternative like sorghum-based whiskey, or try using a gluten-free corn-based bourbon. Just be sure to double-check the vermouth and bitters for hidden gluten too.

GAPS/AIP: The Manhattan cocktail isn’t suitable for GAPS or AIP diets, as alcohol is a no-go on both. But, fear not! If you’re craving a cocktail-like experience during your healing journey, try mixing some alcohol-free bitters with sparkling water and fresh citrus for a zesty mocktail.

Keto: Remember the old saying, Where there’s a will, there’s a way? Well, keto warriors, your willpower has paid off. To make a keto-friendly Manhattan, simply swap the sweet vermouth with a sugar-free, dry vermouth, and use a sugar-free cherry for garnish. Adjust the ratios to taste, and enjoy your low-carb libation.

Other popular variations: Feeling adventurous? Here are a few spins on the classic Manhattan to keep your taste buds on their toes:

  • Perfect Manhattan: Use equal parts sweet and dry vermouth for a perfectly balanced cocktail.
  • Rob Roy: Swap the whiskey or bourbon for Scotch to create this Scottish cousin of the Manhattan.
  • Black Manhattan: Replace the sweet vermouth with an Italian amaro, like Averna, for a darker and more bitter twist.

Whatever your dietary needs or preferences, the Manhattan cocktail is a versatile and delicious drink that can be tailored to suit your tastes. So, channel your inner mixologist, get creative, and raise a glass to endless possibilities!

Health Risks & Benefits

What about the health risks and benefits of this sophisticated tipple? Let’s delve into the world of whiskey and vermouth to set the record straight.

First things first, let’s address the elephant in the room – alcohol. It’s no secret that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to numerous health issues, so always remember to enjoy your Manhattan in moderation. After all, it’s a classy cocktail that deserves to be savored and not gulped!

Now, let’s talk about the good stuff! Whiskey, the star ingredient, is made from grains, which means it contains antioxidants – those fantastic little compounds that help your body fend off those pesky free radicals. While we’re not claiming that a Manhattan is the elixir of youth, it’s nice to know that you’re getting a little boost from your tipple of choice.

Sweet vermouth, the supporting actor in our Manhattan, is a fortified wine infused with various botanicals, herbs, and spices. While the exact recipe varies between brands, one constant is the inclusion of wormwood, which has been used for centuries to aid digestion. So, you could say that your Manhattan gives your tummy a gentle helping hand – something to keep in mind next time you’re whipping one up after a big meal.

Lastly, our unsung hero – Angostura bitters. Originally concocted as a medicinal tonic back in 1824, bitters are made with a blend of herbs, spices, and bark, offering some potential digestive benefits. Who said medicine had to taste bad?

In summary, while enjoying a Manhattan cocktail won’t magically transform you into the epitome of health, you can take some solace in knowing that it’s more than just a pretty face – if enjoyed responsibly. So, go ahead, pour yourself a Manhattan, raise your glass, and toast to the many layers of this iconic drink. Cheers!

History & Context

The Manhattan cocktail, a sophisticated blend of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, has a rich and storied history that dates back to the 19th century. As one of the oldest American cocktails still enjoyed today, the Manhattan has not only stood the test of time, but has become a symbol of elegance and refinement in the world of mixology.

Legend has it that the Manhattan was created in the 1870s at the prestigious Manhattan Club in New York City, a social hub for the city’s elite. It’s said that Dr. Iain Marshall, a member of the club, concocted this iconic drink for a political banquet hosted in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. It was such a hit that partygoers started requesting the Manhattan by the name of the club where it was first served. And just like that, a classic was born!

Of course, like many storied cocktails, the exact origins of the Manhattan are shrouded in mystery and competing claims. Some sources suggest that it may have been created by a bartender named Black in a different Manhattan bar altogether. Regardless of its precise beginnings, there’s no denying the cocktail’s lasting impact on the world of mixology.

The choice of whiskey for a Manhattan has evolved over time. Initially, rye whiskey was the go-to spirit, but eventually, other whiskies and bourbons found their way into the mix. Today, personal preference plays a big role in determining the whiskey of choice for a Manhattan, with many connoisseurs enjoying the experimentation process that comes with discovering their perfect match.

The Manhattan cocktail has also inspired a number of variations over the years, such as the Rob Roy (made with Scotch) and the Dry Manhattan (made with dry vermouth instead of sweet). Yet, the classic combination of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters remains a testament to its timeless appeal.

So, as you raise your chilled coupe or martini glass to your lips and savor the silky textures and complex flavors of a well-crafted Manhattan, take a moment to toast its rich history and enduring legacy. Cheers to a cocktail that’s as iconic as the city it was named after!

Common Questions

Can I shake my Manhattan instead of stirring it?

While you might be tempted to give it a good shake like James Bond, stirring is the preferred method for making a Manhattan. Shaking can cause the drink to become clouded with tiny ice particles and over-diluted, which can affect the taste and texture. Stirring maintains the drink’s silky smoothness while still chilling and diluting it just enough. So channel your inner Don Draper and stir away!

What’s the difference between whiskey and bourbon, and which should I use?

Whiskey is a broad category of distilled spirits made from fermented grain mash, which can include corn, rye, barley, and wheat. Bourbon is a specific type of American whiskey that’s primarily made from corn (at least 51%) and aged in new charred oak barrels. This gives bourbon its signature sweetness and rich, caramel-like flavor. Rye whiskey, on the other hand, is made predominately from rye and typically has a spicier, more robust flavor.

The choice of whiskey or bourbon in your Manhattan is really up to you and your taste preferences. Rye whiskey is the classic choice, but many people enjoy using bourbon for its sweeter notes. Feel free to experiment with different varieties to find your perfect match!

Can I use a different type of bitters in my Manhattan?

Absolutely! While Angostura bitters are the traditional choice for a Manhattan, there’s a world of bitters out there to explore. Orange bitters would be a fitting choice, as they add a nice citrusy twist to the drink. Or, for a touch of global culinary heritage, try using Italian Amaro bitters for a slightly more bitter and herbal flavor. The beauty of making cocktails at home is that you can experiment and find your own favorite combinations!

I’ve heard of a Perfect Manhattan. What is that, and how do I make one?

A Perfect Manhattan is a variation of the classic Manhattan cocktail that uses equal parts sweet and dry vermouth instead of just sweet vermouth. To make a Perfect Manhattan, simply substitute 0.5 oz of sweet vermouth and 0.5 oz of dry vermouth for the 1 oz of sweet vermouth in the recipe. This creates a slightly less sweet and more balanced cocktail that’s sure to impress your guests (or your own taste buds)!

How can I make my Manhattan even more special for a special occasion?

To take your Manhattan cocktail to the next level, consider using a high-quality, small-batch whiskey or bourbon, or even an aged vermouth for added depth of flavor. You can also experiment with different garnishes, like using a brandied cherry or a flamed orange twist for an extra touch of flair. And don’t forget, presentation is key! Serving your Manhattan in a beautiful coupe or martini glass will add a dash of elegance to any occasion. Cheers!

Recent Recipes