Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

The Manhattan drink—perfectly constructed with bourbon, vermouth, and bitters.

Dating back to the 19th century, the Manhattan cocktail is one of the most well-known, classic cocktails of all time. What’s in a Manhattan? Bourbon or rye, sweet vermouth, and bitters. Simple enough you can just about order one at any bar or restaurant and get it made correctly (of course there are always exceptions).

Not to be confused with the perfect Manhattan cocktail—the same drink, but made with both sweet and dry vermouth. It’s a touch lighter in color and bitterness. Traditionally, the Manhattan drink is made with rye whiskey, however over the years, bourbon has become just as popular.

I’ve gone back and fourth on the perfect versus classic manhattan recipe. Both delicious, just a tad different in overall flavor. If your typical Manhattan feels a little too strong for your taste, the perfect Manhattan may be the lighter, smoother choice for you.

How to Make A Manhattan Cocktail

  1. ALWAYS stir with ice, never shake. Whiskey cocktails should always be stirred, otherwise you’ll introduce unwanted oxygen into the drink. The ice will add just enough water to take the burn off the whiskey without diluting your cocktail.
  2. Pick up some good vermouth. There’s no point in wasting nice whiskey with cheap vermouth. I like Dolin or Punt E Mes.
  3. Experiment with different types of bitters and garnishes. Angostura bitters and a Luxardo cherry garnish is the most traditional approach, but I like to switch it up with cherry bitters, orange bitters, Peychaud’s bitters and an orange peel garnish. I like the subtle twists that add different aromas and flavors.

P.S. Shoutout to my wonderful Nana for giving me her vintage cocktail glasses. They must be twice as old as I am but I swear they will never go out of style. Putting them to some serious good use.

Manhattan Cocktail Recipe
Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

Manhattan Cocktail Recipe Two Ways

  • Author: Shawn Williams
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Yield: 1 1x
  • Category: Cocktail
  • Cuisine: American



Classic Manhattan

  • 3 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters
  • Garnish with a Luxardo cherry

Perfect Manhattan

  • 3 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Luxardo cherry for garnish
  • Orange peel (optional)



  1. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cherry and serve immediately.


  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir vigorously for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled martini glass.
  3. Twist and squeeze the orange peel over the cocktail to release the oils. Rub the rim of the glass with the peel and drop it into the cocktail. Garnish with 1 cherry and serve immediately.

Keywords: how to make a manhattan