Do you love a good Manhattan cocktail? I do. Manhattans are one of my favorite cocktails when we’re out and about. I’ve been working on my repertoire of classic cocktail recipes and decided it was time to learn how to make a great Manhattan at home.
Manhattans were served in New York as early as the 1870s, so I’m nearly one hundred and fifty years late to party. I found guides on how to make the best Manhattan in this Punch article that examines how top bartenders make their Manhattans.
Here’s the good news: Manhattans seem chic, but they really are one of the easiest cocktails to make. You only need three ingredients (plus a cherry garnish). The trick is to choose quality ingredients that work well together.
Once you have these you will be enjoying a great Manhattan cocktail in no time. Manhattans should always be stirred, not shaken, so you don’t even have to pop out the cocktail shaker for them. Bottom up!
Manhattan’s best cocktails are carefully crafted from four simple ingredients that complement each other. You can find my favorite ingredients in the recipe below. Don’t forget to stir ice!
1) rye or bourbon
Rye and bourbon are both types of whiskey with different compositions. Rye has more flavor, while bourbon is a bit milder and sweeter. Most bartenders go for rye, but choose based on your taste. Remember that wormwood will soften the fire a little.
I used Bulleit rye for these cocktails. It’s always a good choice and I’ve been very happy with the results!
2) Sweet Vermouth
Vermouth is a wine that is “fortified” (stronger than usual with the help of a brandy) and “flavored” (that is, fortified with herbs and spices). Vermouth is also sweetened.
For a classic Manhattan we would like to use “sweet” vermouth, which is actually not that sweet. Sweet wormwood is dark red or brown, not clear. My favorite options are Dolin and Carpano Antica. Dolin is the softer and smoother of the two, which doesn’t mean it’s boring. It’s cheaper too.
Tip for storing wormwood: Wormwood is WineSo it gets bad over time like all wines (but thanks to the brandy it has a longer shelf life than a normal bottle). Open bottles of vermouth stay in the refrigerator for between a month and two months.
Wondering how to use up your vermouth before it loses its flavor? Do like the Europeans and enjoy vermouth over ice as an aperitif. It’s especially nice with an orange touch.
Angostura bitters are classic and easy to find and you really can’t go wrong. Bitter substances such as wormwood are mixed with proprietary herbs and spices. However, they are highly concentrated – just a few strokes create a ton of complex flavor.
4) A cocktail cherry for garnish
If you are serious about your Manhattans, try great cherries. I love Luxardo cherries. they are far Superior to other maraschino cherries and can be kept in the refrigerator for a long time. You can find Luxardo cherries in well-stocked liquor stores and on Amazon (affiliate link).
Tip: If you want your Manhattan a little sweeter, add a small piece of the sweetened cherry liquid from the glass to your mixing glass.
How to Make the Best Manhattan Cocktail
The Manhattan is so easy to do. That’s how it’s done:
- Gather your ingredients, fill a mixing glass with ice, and place a coupe or martini glass nearby.
- Pour the whiskey and vermouth into your mixing glass. Add a few dashes of bitter.
- Stir, stir, stir.
- Strain the mixture into your drinking glass.
Looking for more classic cocktails?
Here are a few more Christmas cocktails:
- Old fashioned cocktail
- New York Sour
- Cinnamon Whiskey Sour
- Irish coffee
- Hot toddy
- French 75
Please let me know how your Manhattan is doing in the comments! I hope it’s better than ever.
Best Manhattan cocktail
- Preparation time: 5 minutes
- Total time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
- Category: cocktail
- Method: Touched
- Kitchen: American
Learn how to make a classic Manhattan cocktail with this simple recipe! High quality ingredients and the right engineering are all it takes to make the best Manhattan you’ve ever had. Recipe makes 1 cocktail; Multiply the ingredients to get more at once (just use an appropriately sized mixing jar).
- Ice to stir
- 2 ounces Rye or bourbon (I like Bulleit rye)
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth (I like Dolin or Carpano Antica)
- 2 Strokes Angostura Bitter
- 1 Luxardo cherry or other cocktail cherry for garnish
- Fill a mixing glass a few inches high with ice. Add the whiskey, vermouth, and bitters. Stir in circular motions for about 30 seconds or until the drink is very cold (if you want a drink with less bite, stir it longer).
- Strain the liquid into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a cocktail cherry. Enjoy.
Recipe adapted by Punch and Jim Meehan via Food & Wine.
Measuring tip: Two ounces are ¼ cup. I like to use this stainless steel jigger (affiliate link) to measure small amounts of liquid.
Change it: While not required, enjoy a pinch of orange or lemon (or both, what is called “rabbit ears”). If you want, you can serve your Manhattan on the rocks instead of upstairs. Ideally, use one large ice cube that melts slowly rather than several small cubes.