Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

The Manhattan drink made two slightly different ways (classic versus perfect). Either way, it’s always 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. There are few different stories behind how the Manhattan first originated, but I think it’s safe to say it is one of the five borough cocktails that came out of New York in the mid 1800s.

What’s typically in a Manhattan? Bourbon or rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Angostura 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).

Manhattan Versus Perfect Manhattan

Perfect Manhattan Cocktail

Although they are the same drink, there are some variations. Traditionally, a classic Manhattan is made with rye whiskey or bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The perfect manhattan is made with one unique difference, equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.

For example, if a classic Manhattan is made with 3 parts whiskey to 1 1/2 parts vermouth, we would split the vermouth to 3/4 sweet vermouth and 3/4 dry vermouth, retaining the initial overall vermouth ratio in the cocktail. The perfect Manhattan is a touch lighter in color and bitterness.

Manhattan Ingredients

  • 3 ounces whiskey
  • 1 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Perfect Manhattan Ingredients

  • 3 ounces whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

I’ve gone back and forth on the perfect versus classic manhattan recipe. Both delicious drinks, 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

What makes the best manhattan recipe? It all comes down to proper technique and the right ingredients.

  1. Which bourbon makes the best Manhattan? The truth is there so SO MANY solid and affordable bourbons out there around the same price point. I like:
    • Buffalo Trace
    • Larceny
    • Elijah Craig
    • Woodford Reserve
    • Eagle Rare
    • Bulliet
    • Knob Creek
  2. Pick up some good vermouth. There’s no point in wasting nice whiskey with cheap vermouth. Here are a few of the best sweet vermouths without breaking the bank.
    • Carpano Antica Formula
    • Dolin
    • Punt E Mes
    • Noilly Pratt
  3. 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. Serve up or on the rocks.
  4. 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.

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Manhattan Cocktail Recipe
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Manhattan Cocktail Recipe Two Ways

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


The Manhattan drink made two different ways—perfectly constructed with bourbon, vermouth, bitters and garnish



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 coupe glass or serve on the rock with fresh ice. 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 coupe glass or serve up on the rocks.
  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.


Traditionally a Manhattan is served straight up, but rocks is okay if you prefer. Always use fresh ice when serving over rocks to prevent dilution.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 255
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Sodium: 98mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 4.8g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: how to make a manhattan manhattan recipe, perfect Manhattan, manhattan drink