Perfect Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

A perfect Manhattan cocktail made with rye whiskey, both sweet and dry vermouth, bitters, orange, and sometimes a cherry.

Perfect Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

The perfect Manhattan cocktail, possibly my favorite cocktail and the greatest concoction 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 1800’s. An amazing time for cocktails.

What is the Difference Between a Manhattan and a Perfect Manhattan?

Traditionally, a 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.

Wow, that sounded very sciency.

Perfect Manhattan

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

Classic Manhattan

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

The perfect Manhattan is lighter in color and a little less bitter. It’s smoother and more diluted than your typical Manhattan. The dry vermouth almost acts mimics adding 3/4 ounces of water to the cocktail since it’s so light in flavor.

Tips for a Perfect Manhattan

  1. ALWAYS stir with ice, never shake. Whiskey cocktails should always be stirred (with a few exceptions), 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. Use 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.

You can serve a perfect Manhattan straight up or on the rocks if you prefer, but I suggest straight up in a coupe glass with a luxardo cherry and orange peel garnish. It’s how the drink was meant to be enjoyed!

One more quick pro tip before I go, chill your glass in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before serving. This will keep you extra chilled, of course.

Perfect Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

The Perfect Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Yield: 1 1x





  • 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 4 ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir vigorously for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe 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.