The Perfect Manhattan

The Manhattan is a classic pre-prohibition cocktail that many people claim was created at The Manhattan Club in New York City in the 1870s, although the accompanying story is probably not true. In general it's believed to have been created in the late 1800s somewhere in New York [1]. It contains whiskey, vermouth, and bitters.

The Manhattan Club's Manhattan (1870s) [2]

  • Stir well with cracked ice:
  • 1.5 oz straight rye whiskey (Rittenhouse or Wild Turkey)
  • 1.5 oz Martini & Rossi red vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

There have been countless different versions over the years, but the core drink is always rye whiskey, vermouth, and some kind of bitters. Since it's a cocktail made from liquor not citrus, egg, or anything else it should be stirred not shaken. People telling you to use bourbon instead of rye should be avoided at all costs. My favorite version is a Perfect Manhattan, which uses equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. I'm lucky enough to have friends who are dedicated to the pursuit of science and have had me over for Manhattans many times to try different versions. So, here's the recipe for the Perfect Manhattan.

The Perfect Manhattan (courtesy of Steven & Christene)

  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey (equal parts Rittenhouse Bonded Rye and Bulleit Rye)
  • .5 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • .5 oz Carpano Antica
  • 2 dashes Whiskey Barrel Bitters

Mix in a large mixing glass and add cubed ice, enough to rise above the level of liquid. Stir for twenty to thirty seconds. Serve in a coupe glass garnished with a maraschino cherry.

There are also plenty of other cocktails based on the Manhattan with substitutions or other ingredients added:

All joking aside, the best drink is one you enjoy, whatever that means for you. Cheers!


  1. Behind the Drink: The Manhattan from
  2. Authentic Cocktail Recipes - David Wondrich on Old Drink Imposters from

Posted on Tue 16 December 2014. Tags: Whiskey, Rye, Vermouth,