The Manhattan Cocktail Recipe: A Quintessential Classic American Whiskey Cocktail

manhattan cocktail recipe and history
The Manhattan Cocktail Recipe: A Quintessential Classic American Whiskey Cocktail
Make sure not to leave out the bitters; they really make a huge difference in the final drink.

We’ve gone through quite a few of these “Have a Drink” articles without hitting upon one of the most obvious classics of the cocktail world. Along with the Martini, the Daiquiri, and the Margarita, the Manhattan is one of the quintessential cocktails that’s practically synonymous with its base liquor (in this case: American whiskey, either rye or bourbon).

The Manhattan’s origins are unknown. A popular story is that it was invented in the 1870s by Dr. Iain Marshall at the Manhattan Club in New York. However, references to a nearly identical book predate that era, and the reason for the drink’s invention is a likely made-up social event. The drink’s original creator is likely lost to history, but what we do know is that by the time Prohibition rolled around, it was well-established among cocktail aficionados. It’s remained basically the same ever since, and with good reason: it’s perfect.

I like to use a spicier vermouth in Manhattans, something with a little more kick to it than Noilly Prat or Dolin. Punt e Mes is great, as is Cocchi or Carpano Antica. I am equally happy with either rye or bourbon in my Manhattans, but you’ll find people on both sides of the argument who will argue to the death that one is superior to the other. My suggestion: experiment to determine what you like best. Just make sure not to leave out the bitters; they really make a huge difference in the final drink.

This article is a modified and enhanced version of a post that ran on my nightly cocktail blog, DrinkShouts. Liquors in parentheses are what I used when I made this recipe, and are included as suggestions.

manhattan cocktail recipe

The Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

A quintessential American whiskey craft cocktail
Total Time 5 mins
Course Drinks
Servings 1 Drink

Equipment

  • Pint Glass
  • Bar spoon
  • Cocktail Strainer
  • Chilled Cocktail Coupe

Ingredients
  

  • 2.5 oz. Rye whiskey Knob Creek
  • 1 oz. Sweet vermouth Punt e Mes
  • 2 dashes Aromatic bitters Angostura
  • Orange twist or Luxardo maraschino cherry Garnish

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients in a pint glass over ice and stir thoroughly. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with an orange twist or a Luxardo maraschino cherry.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Christopher Buecheler

Christopher Buecheler is a novelist, a web developer, an award-winning amateur mixologist, a brewer, a guitarist, a drummer, and an NBA enthusiast. He lives a semi-nomadic life with his wife and two cats, currently residing in Providence, RI. You can learn more at his website, cwbuecheler.com.