The Manhattan Cocktail: Recipe & Variations

The Manhattan Cocktail is a timeless classic from the 1880s that has inspired many variations.

Manhattan Cocktail – Photo © Cocktails & Bars

History of the Manhattan Cocktail

Like many classic cocktails, the history of the Manhattan has unclear origins. According to Gary Regan (source), it dates back to the 1880, and was one of the very first cocktails that called for vermouth as a modifier. It may have been invented at the Manhattan Club in New York, and created for a party thrown by Jennie Jerome in 1874 for Winston Churchill’s mother. However, Lady Churchill was known to be in England at this time and give birth to Winston.

The other origin story is believed to be from a story written by bartender William F. Mulhall of New York’s famed Hoffman House. “The Manhattan cocktail was invented by a man named Black, who kept a place ten doors below Houston Street on Broadway in the [eighteen-] sixties—probably the most famous drink in the world in its time,” Mulhall wrote.

Regardless of its origins, much like the Martini, the Manhattan remains today as one of the best classic cocktails of all times.

Manhattan Cocktail Recipe


  • 60 ml rye whiskey
  • 30 ml sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Glassware: coupette or Martini glass
Garnish: Maraschino cherry or brandied cherry


Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupette or Martini glass. Garnish with a Maraschino or brandied cherry.

How To Pre-Batch Manhattan Cocktail

The Manhattan cocktail lends itself to easy pre-batching. The cocktail can be pre-batched with or without dilution and be ready to serve. Here are two methods of how to batch a Manhattan for a crowd.

Manhattan Cocktail Variations

The Manhattan cocktail with its combination of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters has inspired many variations.  The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) by Henry Craddock lists four versions of the Manhattan including a sweet (with Italian vermouth) and dry (half dry and half sweet vermouth). Here are some of the Manhattan cocktail recipes and variations:

1. Dry Manhattan

– whiskey, dry vermouth, lemon twist

2. Perfect Manhattan

– whiskey, equal parts of sweet and dry vermouth

3. Black Manhattan

– Averna in place of sweet vermouth

4. Allpsice Manhattan

– with Allspice Dram and vermouth

5. Reverse Manhattan

– swaps the ratio of whiskey to vermouth

6. Moonshine Manhattan

– a white Manhattan with moonshine, dry vermouth and Lillet Blanc

7. Tequila Manhattan

– swaps whiskey for Añejo Tequila

8. Brooklyn

– whiskey, dry vermouth, Amer Picon, Maraschino Liqueur

9. Fanciulli

– a Manhattan with Fernet Branca in place of bitters

10. Rob Roy

– Scotch instead of bourbon or Aamerican whiskey

11. Smoky Rob Roy

– peated whisky instead of bourbon or American whiskey

12. Greenpoint

– 60ml rye whiskey, 15ml yellow chartreuse and 15ml sweet vermouth, Angostura and Orange Bitters

13. Remember the Maine

– rye whiskey with sweet vermouth, Cherry Heering and absinthe.

14. Rory O’More

– a Manhattan with Irish whiskey

15. Bobby Burns

– a Manhattan with Scotch whisky and Benedictine instead of bitters

16. Red Hook

– 60ml rye whisky, 15ml sweet vermouth, 15ml Maraschino liqueur

17. Bensonhurst

– 60ml rye whiskey, 30ml dry vermouth, 10ml Maraschino liqueur, 1 bar-spoon Cynar

18. Rum Manhattan

– dark rum instead of whiskey

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