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The Manhattan: A Timeless Cocktail


The Manhattan cocktail, a timeless and sophisticated classic, has been delighting cocktail enthusiasts for well over a century. Its rich history and balanced blend of flavors make it a go-to choice for those seeking a taste of old-world charm. In this post, we’ll discuss the origins of the Manhattan, the basic ingredients, and explore creative ways to customize this iconic drink.

The History of the Manhattan:

The exact origins of the cocktail remain shrouded in mystery. One popular legend suggests that it was first crafted at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the 1870s. The story goes that the cocktail was created for a banquet hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill’s mother. It quickly gained popularity and became a staple in bars across the city.

Basic Ingredients:

To craft the perfect classic Manhattan, you’ll need the following basic ingredients:

  1. Rye Whiskey: The choice of whiskey is crucial, and rye whiskey is the traditional and preferred option. It provides a spicy, slightly fruity flavor that balances the cocktail.
  2. Sweet Vermouth: Sweet vermouth adds a rich and aromatic sweetness to the drink, complementing the whiskey perfectly.
  3. Angostura Bitters: Angostura bitters contribute a subtle, complex layer of flavor with hints of herbs, spices, and citrus.
  4. Maraschino Cherry (for garnish): A maraschino cherry is the classic garnish. It adds a touch of sweetness and a pop of color.

Customizing Your Cocktail:

While the classic Manhattan is a masterpiece on its own, there are numerous ways to customize it:

  1. Bourbon Manhattan: Swap the rye whiskey for bourbon to create a slightly sweeter variation with a hint of vanilla.
  2. Perfect Manhattan: Use equal parts sweet and dry vermouth to create a “Perfect” Manhattan with a balanced sweetness.
  3. Flavored Bitters: Experiment with different bitters flavors, such as orange or cherry bitters, to add a unique twist.
  4. Smoke and Spice: Infuse your Manhattan with smoky notes by using a smoky bourbon or adding a touch of smoky Scotch whisky.
  5. Fruit Infusions: Enhance the cocktail’s fruity character by muddling fresh fruits like cherries or oranges in the glass before adding the other ingredients.

The Manhattan

Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

This recipe is for a classic Manhattan, however it can be customized to your preferences too! Just take a look above for ideas on that. Cheers!


  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

  • Maraschino Cherry (for garnish)


    1. Fill a mixing glass with ice.

    1. Add the rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters.

    1. Stir gently until well chilled and properly diluted, usually for about 30 seconds.

    1. Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass or a lowball glass filled with ice.

    1. Garnish with a maraschino cherry, and if desired, a twist of orange peel.

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The classic Manhattan cocktail is a timeless favorite that continues to capture the hearts of cocktail enthusiasts worldwide. With its rich history, balanced ingredients, and room for customization, it’s a drink both purists and creatives can enjoy.


Hi! I'm Sydney,

nice to meet you!

I left a marketing career in Hollywood to go to the Culinary Institute of America. After a few years of working in restaurants, I am now a private chef and sommelier in the 30a area.

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