What is a manhattan drink?

What is a Manhattan drink? is a question that often piques the curiosity of those exploring the world of mixology. When it comes to classic cocktails that exude sophistication and timeless appeal, the Manhattan stands as a true icon.

This beloved beverage, known simply as a “Manhattan,” has a rich history dating back to the late 19th century, and it continues to captivate the palates of cocktail enthusiasts and connoisseurs today.

Its combination of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and aromatic bitters creates a symphony of flavors that has made it a staple in the canon of classic cocktails. Join us on a journey through the origins, variations, and the art of crafting this quintessential drink that epitomizes the elegance of the cocktail culture.

What is a Manhattan drink?

What is a manhattan drink

A Manhattan is a classic cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. It is typically garnished with a cherry. Here’s how to make a traditional Manhattan:


  • 2 oz rye whiskey or bourbon
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish
  • Orange or lemon twist for garnish (optional)


  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Pour in the rye whiskey (or bourbon), sweet vermouth, and bitters.
  3. Stir the mixture well until it’s chilled and properly mixed.
  4. Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass or a rocks glass filled with ice.
  5. Garnish with a maraschino cherry (you can skewer it with a cocktail pick) and, if desired, an orange or lemon twist.

The Manhattan is a classic cocktail that has been enjoyed for many decades and is known for its rich, smooth, and slightly sweet flavor profile with a hint of bitterness from the bitters. It’s a great choice for whiskey enthusiasts and cocktail aficionados.

What are the main ingredients in a Manhattan cocktail?

The main ingredients in a Manhattan cocktail are:

  1. Rye whiskey or bourbon: This is the primary spirit used in a Manhattan. You can choose either rye whiskey or bourbon, depending on your preference. Rye whiskey tends to provide a spicier and drier flavor profile, while bourbon offers a slightly sweeter and fuller-bodied taste.
  2. Sweet vermouth: Sweet vermouth is a fortified wine that adds sweetness and complexity to the cocktail. It balances the strong flavor of the whiskey and contributes to the Manhattan’s characteristic sweetness.
  3. Angostura bitters: Angostura bitters are aromatic bitters that are used to add depth and complexity to the cocktail. Just a few dashes of bitters can provide a subtle hint of bitterness and a complex flavor profile.

Optional garnishes for a Manhattan include a maraschino cherry and an orange or lemon twist, which add a touch of sweetness and aroma to the drink.

These three core ingredients—rye whiskey or bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters—combine to create the classic Manhattan cocktail.

Is the Manhattan a classic cocktail?

Yes, the Manhattan is indeed considered a classic cocktail. It has a long and storied history, dating back to the late 19th century. The exact origins of the Manhattan are the subject of some debate, but it is widely recognized as one of the quintessential cocktails in the world of mixology.

The Manhattan’s classic recipe, which includes rye whiskey or bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters, has remained largely unchanged for many decades. It has a timeless appeal and is known for its sophisticated and balanced flavor profile.

The Manhattan is often associated with elegance and refinement, and it has earned its place as a staple in the world of classic cocktails. It continues to be enjoyed by cocktail enthusiasts around the globe and is a popular choice in bars and restaurants.

What type of glass is typically used for serving a Manhattan?

A Manhattan cocktail is typically served in a stemmed glass known as a “Martini glass” or “Martini coupe.” This glass has a wide, shallow bowl with a long stem, which allows you to hold it without warming the contents with your hand. The wide bowl also provides ample space for the cocktail’s aromas to be enjoyed as you sip it.

However, it’s worth noting that the choice of glassware can vary depending on personal preference and the establishment. Some bars and restaurants may serve Manhattans in other glass types, such as rocks glasses (also known as old-fashioned glasses) when customers prefer their drinks on the rocks or in a different style of glassware.

How is a Manhattan cocktail traditionally garnished?

A Manhattan cocktail is traditionally garnished with a maraschino cherry. The cherry is typically skewered on a cocktail pick or a small stick and placed in the drink as a garnish. This cherry garnish not only adds a touch of sweetness and a pop of color to the cocktail but also provides a delightful flavor contrast to the rich and complex flavors of the Manhattan.

In addition to the maraschino cherry, some variations of the Manhattan may also include a twist of orange or lemon peel as an optional garnish. This citrus twist is used to release the oils from the peel, which can add a subtle citrus aroma to the drink when twisted over the surface of the cocktail before serving. The twist is then often discarded or dropped into the drink.

So, while the traditional garnish for a Manhattan is the maraschino cherry, the addition of a citrus twist is a common variation that can enhance the cocktail’s aroma and presentation.

What distinguishes a Manhattan from other whiskey-based cocktails?

What is a manhattan drink

A Manhattan is a classic whiskey-based cocktail known for its simple yet distinct combination of ingredients. What distinguishes a Manhattan from other whiskey-based cocktails are its key components and proportions:


    • Whiskey: A Manhattan is primarily made with whiskey, traditionally rye whiskey, although bourbon is also commonly used. The choice of whiskey affects the flavor profile of the drink.
    • Sweet Vermouth: Sweet vermouth is a fortified wine that adds a rich, sweet, and slightly herbal flavor to the cocktail. It is a defining ingredient in a Manhattan.
    • Bitters: Angostura bitters are the most common type of bitters used in a Manhattan. Bitters provide a hint of spice and balance to the sweetness of the vermouth.
  1. Proportions: The classic Manhattan recipe typically calls for the following proportions:
    • 2 ounces of whiskey (rye or bourbon)
    • 1 ounce of sweet vermouth
    • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  1. Stirring and Straining: A Manhattan is stirred with ice in a mixing glass until well-chilled, and then it’s strained into a chilled cocktail glass (usually a martini or coupe glass).
  2. Garnish: A Manhattan is often garnished with a maraschino cherry or a twist of orange peel. The garnish adds a touch of sweetness and aroma to the drink.

It’s important to note that while the classic Manhattan recipe is made with rye or bourbon, variations exist. For example, a Perfect Manhattan uses a combination of sweet and dry vermouth, and a Dry Manhattan replaces sweet vermouth with dry vermouth for a less sweet profile.

Additionally, some modern interpretations may incorporate different types of bitters or experimental garnishes, but the fundamental components remain whiskey, vermouth, and bitters.

Are there variations of the Manhattan cocktail?

Yes, there are several variations of the classic Manhattan cocktail, each with its own unique twist on the original recipe. Some of the most popular variations include:

  1. Perfect Manhattan: This variation replaces the sweet vermouth in the classic Manhattan with a combination of equal parts sweet vermouth and dry vermouth. The result is a Manhattan with a more balanced and less sweet flavor profile.
  2. Dry Manhattan: In a Dry Manhattan, sweet vermouth is entirely replaced with dry vermouth, creating a drier and less sweet cocktail. It’s a good choice for those who prefer a more austere whiskey drink.
  3. Rob Roy: The Rob Roy is essentially a Scotch whisky version of the Manhattan. It uses Scotch whisky (usually blended Scotch) instead of rye or bourbon. The rest of the ingredients and preparation method are similar to the classic Manhattan.
  4. Black Manhattan: This variation replaces the sweet vermouth with Averna, a herbal liqueur, and often uses a different type of bitters, such as chocolate or coffee bitters. It results in a richer, darker, and slightly bitter Manhattan.
  5. Southern Comfort Manhattan: This variation uses Southern Comfort, a peach-flavored liqueur, in place of the traditional whiskey. It’s sweeter and fruitier than the classic Manhattan.
  6. Bobby Burns: The Bobby Burns cocktail uses Scotch whisky, sweet vermouth, and a touch of Benedictine, a herbal liqueur. It has a more complex and herbal flavor compared to the classic Manhattan.
  7. Greenpoint: The Greenpoint cocktail is made with rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, yellow Chartreuse (a herbal liqueur), and a dash of Angostura bitters. It has a distinct herbal and spicy profile.
  8. Brooklyn: This variation uses rye whiskey, dry vermouth, and maraschino liqueur. It’s named after one of the boroughs of New York City and has a unique balance of sweetness and herbal notes.
  9. Diamondback: The Diamondback cocktail combines rye whiskey, apple brandy (usually Laird’s Applejack), and yellow Chartreuse. It’s a strong and flavorful variation.
  10. Latin Manhattan: This variation incorporates aged rum instead of whiskey, and often includes a coffee liqueur or coffee-infused vermouth. It’s a boozy and coffee-flavored twist on the classic.

These variations offer a range of flavors and profiles, allowing cocktail enthusiasts to explore different taste experiences while still enjoying the basic structure of a Manhattan. Feel free to experiment with these variations or create your own to suit your personal preferences.

What is the ideal whiskey to use in a Manhattan?

The choice of whiskey for a Manhattan largely depends on your personal taste preferences, as well as the flavor profile you want to achieve in your cocktail. Both rye whiskey and bourbon are commonly used in Manhattans, and each brings its own distinct characteristics to the drink.

  1. Rye Whiskey: Traditionally, the Manhattan was made with rye whiskey, and many purists believe that rye whiskey is the ideal choice for an authentic Manhattan. Rye whiskey tends to have a spicier and drier profile compared to bourbon, which can create a slightly more assertive and peppery cocktail. If you prefer a Manhattan with a bit of a bite and some spice, rye whiskey is a great choice.

Some popular rye whiskey brands for Manhattans include Bulleit Rye, Rittenhouse Rye, and Sazerac Rye.

  1. Bourbon: Bourbon is another excellent option for making a Manhattan. It has a sweeter and smoother flavor profile due to its higher corn content and the aging process in new charred oak barrels. Using bourbon in your Manhattan will result in a slightly sweeter and more approachable cocktail, which can be particularly enjoyable if you’re not a fan of overly spicy or dry drinks.

Some popular bourbon choices for Manhattans include Maker’s Mark, Buffalo Trace, and Woodford Reserve.

Ultimately, the “ideal” whiskey for a Manhattan is subjective and depends on your personal taste. You can also experiment with different whiskey brands and expressions to find the one that best suits your preferences. Some cocktail enthusiasts even enjoy creating Manhattans with higher-end or specialty whiskeys for a more unique and luxurious experience.

Keep in mind that the quality and flavor of your vermouth and bitters also play a significant role in the final taste of your Manhattan, so be sure to use good-quality ingredients and adjust the proportions to achieve your desired balance of sweetness and bitterness.

What role does vermouth play in a Manhattan cocktail?

What is a manhattan drink

Vermouth plays a crucial role in a Manhattan cocktail, contributing both flavor and balance to the drink. Vermouth is a fortified wine that comes in two primary styles: sweet (red) vermouth and dry (white) vermouth. In a classic Manhattan, sweet vermouth is used.

Here’s what vermouth brings to a Manhattan:

  1. Sweetness: Sweet vermouth adds a sweet and slightly caramelized flavor to the cocktail. This sweetness balances the strong and often spicy notes of the whiskey, creating a harmonious and well-rounded taste.
  2. Complexity: Vermouth also brings a layer of complexity to the Manhattan. It has herbal, botanical, and sometimes slightly bitter notes that complement the whiskey and add depth to the cocktail’s flavor profile.
  3. Aromatic Qualities: Vermouth contributes aromatic qualities to the Manhattan, enhancing the drink’s aroma. The herbal and fruity aromas of vermouth blend with the whiskey’s aromatics to create an enticing and inviting scent.
  4. Balancing Factor: Vermouth acts as a balancing agent by mellowing the strength of the whiskey. This balance is further enhanced by the addition of bitters, which add complexity and help prevent the drink from being overly sweet.
  5. Texture: Vermouth contributes to the overall mouthfeel of the cocktail. Its viscosity and texture can make the Manhattan feel smoother and more enjoyable on the palate.

When making a Manhattan, the proportions of whiskey to vermouth are essential. The classic recipe calls for a 2:1 ratio of whiskey to vermouth (2 ounces of whiskey to 1 ounce of vermouth), but this ratio can be adjusted to suit your taste preferences.

Using too much vermouth can result in a sweeter drink, while using too little can make the cocktail stronger and less balanced.

What is the origin of the name “Manhattan” for this cocktail?

The exact origin of the name “Manhattan” for the cocktail is a subject of debate and is not definitively known. However, several theories and stories about the name’s origin have been proposed over the years. Here are a couple of the most commonly cited theories:

  1. The Manhattan Club Theory: One popular and widely accepted theory suggests that the Manhattan cocktail was created in the 1870s at the Manhattan Club in New York City. According to this theory, a bartender at the club, possibly a man named Black, made the drink for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome, the mother of Winston Churchill. The cocktail was a hit at the event, and it was named after the club itself. This theory lends a certain air of elegance and sophistication to the cocktail’s name.
  2. The “Manhattan” Neighborhood Theory: Another theory proposes that the cocktail was named after the Manhattan neighborhood in New York City, where it was either created or popularized. Some believe it was first made in the late 19th century by a bartender in the Manhattan area.

It’s worth noting that cocktail history can be somewhat murky, with many recipes and stories evolving over time. As a result, the true origin of the Manhattan cocktail’s name may never be definitively determined.

Regardless of its origin, the Manhattan has become an iconic cocktail with a long and storied history, and it remains a beloved classic enjoyed by cocktail enthusiasts around the world.



This page answers what is a Manhattan drink. A Manhattan is a classic cocktail made primarily with whiskey (usually rye or bourbon), sweet vermouth, and bitters. It is stirred with ice, strained into a chilled glass, and typically garnished with a maraschino cherry or an orange twist.

The combination of these ingredients results in a well-balanced and flavorful cocktail with sweet, herbal, and spicy notes, making it a timeless favorite among cocktail enthusiasts.