A classic Manhattan cocktail is one of the best and oldest cocktails. It’s a classic for a reason with only a few fine ingredients and a few minutes required to make it. This simple combination of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters in a smooth and aromatic blend of flavors with a touch of sweetness.
Manhattan is a true classic cocktail that has not changed since it was invented in the late 1800s, in New York City. The original recipe called for a mixture of American rye whiskey, sweet Italian vermouth, and a dash of bitters. This cocktail will still be the same classic combination of flavors when you order it in most bars and restaurants. Why mess with what’s already perfect, right?!
Purists believe that a Manhattan should never be made with anything other than rye whiskey, much like the firm belief that a martini should always have gin. But, I like to rebel from time to time and use bourbon when I feel like it. If you like bourbon, feel free to try this classic cocktail with your favorite bourbon, it will give you a less spicy and somewhat sweeter flavor profile.
One thing I absolutely agree on with the purists is that a Manhattan should be stirred and not shaken. (Sorry, Mr. Bond.) So set aside that cocktail shaker and grab a bar spoon. Stir this beautiful blend of liquors for about 20 seconds and then enjoy it for any occasion, even a quiet dinner at home on a Friday night.
INGREDIENTS IN A MANHATTAN
Traditional choice for this cocktail is an American rye whiskey. It has a spicier, edgier flavor pallet that compliments the sweet vermouth wine nicely. If bourbon is your choice of drink, feel free to use your favorite bourbon. Manhattan with bourbon will have a milder, and sweeter flavor. With less of a spice, it will be smoother too.
Whichever one you choose, rye or bourbon, be mindful of the quality. If you would not drink it straight, don’t use it in a cocktail because the flavor will come through clearly.
Vermouth is an aromatic, fortified wine flavored with herbs, spices, seeds, and flowers. Fortifying wine means adding another spirit, usually brandy, to the wine to make it stronger and more flavorful. Sweet vermouth is also sweeter than typical wines because they add more sugars at the end of the distillation process.
It balances the spicy and strong whiskey perfectly and even calms it. Just make sure to use sweet vermouth! Don’t think that you can just use dry and it will be an acceptable substitution.
Bitters is a flavoring agent you will find in a great amount of cocktail recipes. It’s highly concentrated and infused with several aromatics, including spices, tree bark, roots, seeds, fruits, etc. Just a dash is all you need to carry its pleasant aroma and bittersweet taste into your cocktail.
Sweet cocktail cherries is a perfect garnish for this edgy, smooth cocktail. My favorite cocktail cherries are Filthy Cherries and they taste so good soaked in whiskey. You can also use bourbon cherries or use your favorite brand.
LET’S MAKE IT
Now that you have the ingredients, you will also need a mixing glass, long bar spoon, serving glasses, and ice.
Chill the glass – add some ice into the serving glass, pour water over ice, and set it aside while making the cocktail.
Combine ingredients – add some crushed ice into the mixing glass and pour in whiskey and sweet vermouth. Add 2-3 dashes of bitters.
Stir – use a long bar spoon to stir the mixture for 20-25 seconds.
Pour – dispose of the iced water from the serving glass and pour the cocktail mixture into the chilled glass through a strainer. Cocktail should be ice cold but not served with ice. (Ice will melt and dilute the cocktail and the flavors.)
Don’t forget the cherries – skewer a few cherries onto the cocktail pick and garnish your beautiful Manhattan.
SOME MORE CLASSIC COCKTAILS TO TRY
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- 2 oz rye whiskey
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
- 2-3 dashes Angostura bitter
- 2-3 cocktail cherries garnish
Chill the glass:
- Add some ice into the serving glass, pour water over ice, and set it aside while making the cocktail.
Make the cocktail:
- Add some crushed ice into the mixing glass and pour in whiskey and sweet vermouth.
- Add 2-3 dashes of bitters and use a long bar spoon to stir the mixture for 20-25 seconds.
- Dispose of the iced water from the serving glass and pour the cocktail mixture into the chilled glass through a strainer. Cocktail should be ice cold but not served with ice. (Ice will melt and dilute the cocktail and the flavors.)
- Skewer a few cherries onto the cocktail pick and add to the drink.