The Manhattan is one of those drinks that can show people that you have good taste. In a bar full of people that are ordering Jaegerbombs and Vodka Redbulls, having someone come up and order a Manhattan will turn a bit of the focus towards them. The most important thing to remember when creating a good Manhattan is to never forget the bitters. Sure you could leave them out but it would be like making a soup without salt.
Not helping the Manhattan’s modern day popularity is the scarcity of good bitters these days compared to the 1870’s when the Manhattan was first invented in New York’s Manhattan Club. The Manhattan was made to be simple like the martini, but only in preparation, as the taste is much more complex than that of a Martini.
Manhattan cocktail ingredients
Here’s a classic Manhattan cocktail recipe.
- 2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey
- 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1 dash of Angostura bitters
Simply stir all of the ingredients together and strain them into a cocktail glass.
These days a Manhattan is almost exclusively made with bourbon. In the early days of the Manhattan however you were almost guaranteed to get one that was made with rye whiskey. Back then a whole lot more rye whiskey was on the market compared to bourbon making it the popular choice. If you can get some rye whiskey then it would definitely be preferable for a Manhattan but there is nothing wrong with making it with bourbon either.
Balance is the name of the game when it comes to mixing a Manhattan. If made correctly, all of the ingredients in their correct amounts will do a great job of complementing each other. Most bartenders will use too little sweet vermouth and leave out the bitters entirely. That could really turn a person off of the Manhattan forever. A good amount of sweet vermouth will mean that you will be likely mix up a great Manhattan every time.
The Manhattan is often topped with a Maraschino Cherry but that was a tradition that started sometime in the 1900s. Before then a regular cherry that had been soaking in some sort of brandy or whiskey would be used. If you want to create an authentic Manhattan then you should use a soaked cherry.
Here’s a video showcasing an interesting, not so classic Manhattan cocktail recipe. This Manhattan is made by adding orange liquor: