The Best Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

Written by Christopher Menning | July 18, 2021

Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

Recipe for Manhattan Cocktail

Ah, the Manhattan. A heavyweight cocktail that has stood the test of time. Named after the New York City borough, the Manhattan cocktail is a spirit-forward recipe calling for Whiskey, vermouth and bitters. 

One of the earliest records of the drink traces it back to 1884 in a cocktail book written by O.H. Byron’s titled ‘The Modern Bartender’s Guide’. Yet some variations of been documented as far back as 1860. Alongside the Martini cocktail, it has paved the way for numerous other classic and contemporary cocktail recipes. 

One particular recipe at the time described it as “three or four drops of angostura bitters, ditto of plain syrup; add half a liqueur glass of vermouth, a half wineglassful of Scotch whiskey”.

Some popular history would suggest it was created for Lady Randolph Churchill, Mother of Winston, at the Manhattan Club in New York however this story has been debunked due to the fact Lady Randolph was in France and pregnant at the time. 

Similar to the Manhattan Cocktail is the Old Fashioned cocktail recipe and both have been the blueprint for countless new drinks and creations.

Manhattan Cocktail Ingredients

For the Manhattan cocktail ingredients, traditionally Rye is the whiskey of choice but Canadian whisky, bourbon and Tennessee whiskey are also commonly used. 

Your vermouth choice can drastically change the DNA of the drink, however. Whilst a perfect Manhattan should have equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, most bartenders, including myself, will only make a sweet version (sweet vermouth only).

Personally, Antica Formula is my go-to choice with Rittenhouse Rye and Boker bitters. I feel the bitters add wonderful coffee notes to the drink.

For a Manhattan cocktail you will need the following ingredients: 

  • American Whiskey: As mentioned, Rye is traditionally the best choice so go for Rittenhouse. Or if you want to go for bourbon (my choice) then Woodford Reserve is suitable.
  • Sweet Vermouth: For a bold and quality vermouth, Antica Formula is the best choice.  
  • Bitters: Angostura are the most popular choice but I like to use Boker bitters. 
Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe


This sweet version of the Manhattan cocktail is much prefered by us and many others. We chose bourbon but you could always up to for a Rye to make this perfect after dinner drink.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 6 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Cocktail
Keyword: classic cocktails, Manhattan
Servings: 1 Cocktail
Calories: 191kcal


  • Mixing glass
  • Bar Spoon
  • Julep Strainer
  • Coup Glass


  • 60 ml Bourbon Whiskey
  • 30 ml Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 Dash Boker Bitters


  • Fill your mixing glass with ice to the top and stir to bring the mixing vessel to a good temperature.
  • Discard any water that has been created in the mixing vessel and then add your whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters.
  • Stir for up to 45 seconds to reach optimum dilution
  • Using your julep strainer to hold the ice in place. strain into a chilled glass
  • garnish with a maraschino cherry and serve!


Calories: 191kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Manhattan Cocktail Variations

Some of the most popular variations are the black Manhattan cocktail recipe which swaps the vermouth for the amaro Averna and adds a dash of orange bitters. We also like the brandy version for something different.

Actually, one of our favourite options which you should try is the batch the cocktail up and barrel-age it! We use a small personal barrel and age the cocktail for around a month. We feel this is enough time to add some woody notes to drink without too much oxidisation. 

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