How To

How To Make A Manhattan


How To Make A Manhattan

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How To Make A Manhattan

How To Make A Manhattan

The Manhattan: A Timeless Classic

In the realm of classic cocktails, the Manhattan stands as a revered icon, a testament to the enduring power of simplicity and balance. Originating in the heart of New York City, this sophisticated libation has captivated generations with its undeniable charm.

Historical Origins

The exact origins of the Manhattan are shrouded in a haze of legend and lore. One popular story traces its genesis to the Manhattan Club in 1874. Lady Randolph Churchill, the mother of Winston Churchill, is said to have requested a special drink for a political gathering. The club’s bartender, Sam Ross, obliged with a concoction of whiskey, vermouth, and bitters, which became an instant hit.

Another theory suggests that the Manhattan originated in the 1880s at the Hoffman House bar. Jerry Thomas, a renowned bartender of the era, is credited with developing a similar cocktail called the "Manhattan Cocktail." However, it remains unclear whether Ross or Thomas was the true inventor of this iconic drink.

The Perfect Balance

The Manhattan’s enduring popularity stems from its exquisite balance of flavors. It is a testament to the principle that less can indeed be more. The cocktail is composed of just three ingredients:

  • Whiskey: Traditionally, rye whiskey is used, lending a spicy and assertive character to the drink. Bourbon whiskey can also be employed for a sweeter and more approachable profile.
  • Sweet Vermouth: Adds sweetness, depth, and complexity to the cocktail. Brands like Carpano Antica, Punt e Mes, and Dolin Rouge are all excellent choices.
  • Bitters: A dash of bitters, typically Angostura or Peychaud’s, provides a hint of bitterness and helps bind the flavors together.

Method of Preparation

Creating a Manhattan is a simple affair, but mastering the craft requires precision and attention to detail.

  1. Chill your glass: An ice-cold mixing glass ensures that your cocktail stays chilled and refreshing.
  2. Measure and pour the ingredients: Use a jigger to accurately measure out the whiskey (2 ounces), sweet vermouth (1 ounce), and bitters (1 dash). Pour them into the mixing glass.
  3. Add ice: Fill the mixing glass with large ice cubes.
  4. Stir: Using a bar spoon, gently stir the ingredients for about 30 seconds, or until the drink is chilled and slightly diluted.
  5. Strain into a chilled glass: Strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe or martini glass filled with fresh ice.
  6. Garnish: Traditionally, a Manhattan is garnished with a maraschino cherry. However, feel free to add a twist of orange peel or a dash of ground nutmeg for a touch of elegance.

Variations and Twists

While the classic Manhattan remains a timeless favorite, there are numerous variations and twists to explore:

  • Perfect Manhattan: Uses equal parts sweet and dry vermouth for a more complex and drier flavor profile.
  • Rob Roy: Replaces rye or bourbon with Scotch whisky, resulting in a distinctively smoky twist.
  • Black Manhattan: Adds a dash of black walnut bitters for a subtle earthy flavor.
  • Brooklyn: Adds a dash of Campari for a hint of bitterness and sweetness.
  • Sweet Manhattan: Uses more sweet vermouth for a sweeter and less assertive cocktail.

Accompanying the Manhattan

The Manhattan is a versatile cocktail that pairs well with a wide range of foods. Consider these classic pairings:

  • Appetizers: Smoked salmon canapés, oysters, or grilled shrimp
  • Main Courses: Roasted lamb, grilled steak, or pan-seared scallops
  • Desserts: Chocolate cake, apple tart, or crème brûlée

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What makes a good rye whiskey for a Manhattan? Look for a rye with a spicy and assertive character, such as Wild Turkey 101, Knob Creek Rye, or Rittenhouse Rye.
  • Can I use dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth? Yes, but the cocktail will be drier and less complex.
  • How can I make a large batch of Manhattans? Use a pitcher and multiply the ingredients by the desired number of cocktails. Stir until chilled and serve.
  • How long does a Manhattan last in the refrigerator? A Manhattan can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Be sure to stir it before serving.
  • What is the ideal ratio of whiskey to vermouth? The classic ratio is 2:1, but you can adjust it to your taste.


The Manhattan is a timeless classic that embodies the essence of sophistication and simplicity. Whether enjoyed as a pre-dinner aperitif or a post-meal digestif, this iconic cocktail continues to captivate and inspire generations of cocktail enthusiasts. By following the steps outlined above and embracing the variations and twists, you can craft the perfect Manhattan that will delight your palate and elevate any occasion.