A Spicy Perspective

Perfect Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

The Perfect Manhattan Cocktail Recipe – This bold herbaceous cocktail with bitter-sweet undertones, is the perfect boozy beverage for any occasion.

Perfect Manhattan Recipe

History Behind the Manhattan Cocktail

Like so many old-school beverages, the specifics of the Manhattan Cocktail origin are a little blurry…

The most popular historic tale supposedly originates from a party in New York at a Manhattan Club. The gathering was hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill (mother of Winston Churchill), but after more investigation, this was seen as a myth because Lady Randolph Churchill was pregnant at the time, and she was still in England.

There was a book published in 1923 that gave us a less glamorous explanation, stating the Manhattan Cocktail was created by a well-known bartender in Manhattan. However, this has not been documented anywhere else.

Unfortunately, the Manhattan does not have a clear history, but some would say that the mystery of this cocktail adds to its overall appeal!

Manhattan Cocktail

How To Choose Your Cocktail Glass

There are many types of glasses that you can use when it comes to making a cocktail. So which ones would work well for this Manhattan recipe?

  • Coupe Glasses – are the most traditional, served chilled without ice
  • Whiskey Glasses – if serving on the rocks
    • Also known as Short Tumbler
    • Lowball
    • Rocks Glass
bourbon vs. rye whiskey

Rye Whiskey vs. Bourbon

So which one should you use? There are a few components of rye whiskey and bourbon that make them different from each other…


  • Bourbon is made up of a mash that has at least 51% corn, and is only called bourbon if it is made in the United States
  • Rye Whiskey is made up of a similar mash, but instead, is at least 51% rye, and the rest of the mash can be made from corn or barley.


  • Bourbon has a sweeter and full-bodied flavor due to the corn mash, which also makes it easier to tolerate for most. It tends to have vanilla or caramel undertones.
  • Rye Whiskey has spicy tones and a drier taste from the rye mash, which lends to its more intense flavor that will develop on your palate as you drink.

Types Of Bourbon

  • Traditional – This is the most common bourbon.
  • High-Rye – Has a large amount of rye and packs more of a kick than the traditional bourbon.
  • High-Wheat – This is the softest bourbon because it has little to no rye.
  • Tennessee Whiskey – Made in Tennessee and it is passed through a charcoal filter before it is aged.

Types of Rye Whiskey

  • American Rye – This whiskey is heavily regulated and usually has the most consistent quality.
  • Canadian Rye – Fewer regulations and usually mostly made with corn mash rather than rye mash.
How to make a Manhattan

Ingredients for a Perfect Manhattan Recipe

This cocktail includes just a handful of ingredients, but each is ideal for making a classic Manhattan that is perfectly seasonal all year long. I tried several variations, and this combination of ingredients is absolutely top-notch.

To Make the Manhattan Cocktail:

  • Bourbon or rye whiskey – Use rye whiskey if you want the most traditional version
  • Sweet vermouth – This adds sweetness, a touch of bitterness, and a strong herbaceous note. 
  • Angostura bitters – Or “old-fashioned” bitters for an even stronger punch of bitterness that lingers as you sip.
  • Ice – To stir and chill the cocktail in the shaker. Manhattans are not traditionally served over ice, but you can serve it in a lowball glass over a block or ice for variation.
  • Cherry, lemon peel, or orange peel – To garnish the cocktail!
Best Cocktail

How to Make a Manhattan Cocktail

The process of making a cocktail is much easier than you might think, especially this sophisticated cocktail…

This recipe is for each individual cocktail, not multiple drinks.

  1. Add ice to your cocktail shaker.
  2. Pour in the bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters.
  3. Stir it all together with a bar spoon – do not shake it – then strain the beverage into a coupe cocktail glass, or into a low ball glass with a large ice cube.
  4. Lastly, you can garnish with a good-quality maraschino cherry, a lemon rind twist, or an orange rind twist.

Get the Full (Printable) Perfect Manhattan Recipe Below. Cheers and Enjoy Responsibly!

Cocktail Recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

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

An Old Fashioned is traditionally made with whiskey as the base (which could be a rye whiskey or a bourbon.) Then bitters and a simple sugar cube. A Manhattan cocktail is made with rye whiskey, traditionally, and then has bitters and sweet vermouth added, instead of the sugar. The sweet vermouth is the difference, offering a Manhattan recipe more depth and intrigue than an Old Fashioned.

Is this cocktail a strong drink?

If you are used to drinking wine or beer, this might be a pretty strong drink for you. Manhattans are meant to sip and savor the flavors over time.

Can I use flavored whiskeys?

You could use flavored whiskey to make Manhattan variations, just make sure it is a higher-quality whiskey. Smoked whiskey and Maple whiskey are good options.

What can I substitute for Vermouth?

If you happen to be out of sweet vermouth and you want to make a Manhattan, you can use port or sweet Madeira if you like. Just know that technically you no longer have a Manhattan cocktail.

What’s a good mocktail variation?

The Telegraph has a great mocktail version for you to try!

Manhattan Drink

Looking For More Cocktail Recipes?

Check the printable recipe card below for the nutrition information including calories, carbohydrates, protein and sodium percentages.

Perfect Manhattan Cocktail Recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes
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Perfect Manhattan Recipe

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
The Best Manhattan Cocktail – Bold and sweet, the perfect cocktail for any occasion.
Servings: 1 cocktail


  • 2.5 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth like Antica
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters
  • Garnishes: twist of lemon rind, orange rind, or a maraschini cherry


  • For each Manhattan Cocktail, add ice to a cocktail shaker. Add the bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters.
  • Stir with a bar spoon. Do not shake. Then strain into a coupe cocktail glass, or into a low ball glass over a large ice cube.
  • Garnish with a marischino cherry, lemon rind twist, or orange rind twist.


Serving: 1drink, Calories: 190kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 1mg, Potassium: 1mg, Sugar: 1g, Iron: 1mg
Course: Beverage, Drinks
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier

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62 comments on “Perfect Manhattan Cocktail Recipe”

  1. This is great Manhattan recipe, but the “Perfect Manhattan” has both sweet and dry vermouth. Try just under .5 ozs of each.

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  4. Loved learning the difference with whiskey and bourbon and how to make this cocktail exactly the way that I want it! So tasty! 

  5. This is like the Holiday drink of all drinks! 

  6. thanks for sharing this recipe!

  7. I made these for my husband’s birthday because they are his favorite drink. We loved them so much!

  8. Delish

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  27. the Manhattan is traditionally made with rye, not bourbon. That being said, looking forward to trying this over the holidays.

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  32. Is that 1 tsp Allspice ground or whole?

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  34. Love your P.S. Shuts up purists perfectly. :D

  35. What a great holiday cocktail and I just love that infused vermouth! Need to make this!

  36. So I AM a Manhattan purist, but if you hadn’t called it a Manhattan then I might not have clicked through, so in that regard you win. However, I’m still fighting a nasty cold so it’s just not on the menu tonight. Wondering if I can make the infused vermouth a day or two ahead?? Cannot wait to make this!

  37. Beautiful thoughtful post. And that cocktail looks so warm and inviting and festive!

  38. I’m calling it delicious and I haven’t even tried it yet, it just great. It’s fun to remember how me met people, wonderful post!

  39. Spices make it more festive….

  40. Love this! I could sure use a glass right now :)

  41. What a perfect drink for the season!

  42. I just popped by from An Edible Mosaic and am following via FB. Your cocktails look delicious. I could use one of these!

  43. This post reminded me how much I could use a cocktail – a much needed reminder ;) The recipe looks great and I’m bound to make it over and over again for a nice winter night cap :)

  44. delicious– i’ll take one of these :)

  45. It’s extremely difficult to be creative with a classic like a Manhattan; especially with the few ingredients in it. You’ve not only done that but made it seasonal; bravo! Very clever!

  46. Such pretty pictures! And very festive!

  47. not a big drinker, but this one I want to try – just can’t afford Hennessey, so hopefully a lesser cognac will work well

  48. I could give you some grief about the Manhattan business but then you might have to swing by and return the favor when it comes to martinis! If it’s in a glass called a martini glass I don’t care if it’s chocolate milk, I’ll call it a chocolate milk martini! :)

    The infused vermouth sounds fantastic and I might just have a new bottle calling out for it to be livened up a bit…thanks. Great cocktail!

  49. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! It looks awesome!

  50. Lovely stories about the people in your life, and the cocktail is just gorgeous.

  51. Perfect way to warm up, Sommer!

  52. Cinnamon and cloves and orange?! Ooh, so perfect for this time of year.

  53. I love all of these spices. This is just gorgeous!

  54. This looks perfect for a holiday party!

  55. You know how I feel about my cocktails… so, I don’t need to tell you how much I love this. :-)