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Photo of Manhattan cocktails.
Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Michelle Gatton. Glassware by Riedel.

There’s a reason the Manhattan cocktail appears on most bar menus: It’s a simple, balanced whiskey drink that always hits the spot. Requiring just a few home-bar staples, it’s also truly easy to make on your own. You can’t go wrong with the original Manhattan drink recipe, which features peppery rye whiskey mixed with sweet red vermouth and is finished with a few dashes of Angostura bitters. (Early versions sometimes called for a different vermouth, gum syrup for sweetness and richness, and orange bitters or orange liqueur.) Today, variations for every palate abound.

Swap out the rye for bourbon to achieve a richer, rounder flavor, or combine equal parts sweet and dry vermouths for what’s known as a “Perfect” Manhattan. Punch up the vermouth with bitter amaro to make a Little Italy, or switch the spirit to smokier scotch to make a Rob Roy. And though we like to finish with a maraschino cherry (opt for lush Luxardo cherries over the candy-sweet neon red version), we know the syrupy fruit isn’t for everyone. You can always take a cue from another cocktail legend, the old fashioned, and garnish your Manhattan with an orange peel instead.

A classic Manhattan cocktail recipe deserves the right glassware. Since this drink is usually served “up,” we recommend using a coupe or Nick & Nora glass (a traditional martini glass can feel unwieldy). If you’d like to plop some ice into your drink, a rocks glass works too.

Editor’s note: The recipe was originally published March 2007. Head over here for more classic cocktails →


Makes 1 drink

2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey
1 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura or orange bitters
Maraschino cherry for garnish
  1. In mixing glass or cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine whiskey, vermouth, and bitters. Stir well, about 20 seconds, then strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry and serve.

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  • The Manhattan is a great winter cocktail — when snow is on the ground, with a fire in the fireplace, it is a warming experience. Enjoy!

    • Tedrow Neely

    • Austin, Texas

    • 3/1/2022

  • This receipt may make a classic Manhattan, but it is a sweet version. I would cut the Vermouth in half, and use Punt e Mes instead of Sweet Vermouth.

    • Anonymous

    • San Francisco

    • 11/13/2021

  • 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.

    • bocron

    • 1/3/2015

  • 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.

    • cleongatl

    • Atlanta, GA

    • 9/17/2008

  • 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.

    • suze72

    • boston, ma

    • 4/9/2008

  • 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.

    • cgtyoder

    • Fresno, OH

    • 4/14/2007

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