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Photograph by Travis Rainey, Prop Styling by Alexandra Massillon, Food Styling by Luciana Lamboy

A classic Manhattan cocktail recipe doesn’t have much to it—and it shouldn’t. It’s a straightforward, no-nonsense, old-school drink that’s two parts whiskey, one part vermouth, and a few dashes of aromatic bitters. But that wasn’t always the case. “The first recipes, which appeared in books in 1884, called for equal parts whiskey and vermouth. Some formulas actually called for more vermouth than whiskey,” explains Robert Simonson in The Encyclopedia of Cocktails. Oh, and the story you might have heard about the drink being invented at an event hosted by Winston Churchill’s mother in New York City at the Manhattan Club “has been thoroughly debunked,” he adds.

Both Canadian and American rye whiskey are acceptable here, as is bourbon—swap in scotch and it’s a Rob Roy. Balance it with a sweet red vermouth like Carpano Antica Formula or Cocchi di Torino. (A perfect Manhattan, meanwhile, splits the second measure, using both sweet and dry vermouth—try it sometime.) Feel free to play with the ratios to find your ideal version—but note that if your bottle of vermouth has been open in the fridge (yes, in the fridge) for more than a few months, it might be time to replace it.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a proper cocktail shaker; since this drink recipe calls for stirring, any mixing glass or jar will do just fine. Use a high-quality cocktail cherry for the garnish (we like high-quality Hotel Starlino Maraschino Cherries or Luxardo cherries), or skip the fruit in favor of an orange or lemon peel.

Recipe information

  • Total Time

    2 minutes

  • Yield

    Makes 1


3 oz. rye whiskey
1½ oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters or orange bitters
1 maraschino cherry or 1 wide strip of orange peel (for garnish)


  1. Combine 3 oz. rye whiskey, 1½ oz. sweet vermouth, and 2 dashes Angostura bitters or orange bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes. Stir gently to chill, about 30 seconds, and strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with 1 maraschino cherry or twist 1 wide strip of orange peel over the glass to express its oils and drop the peel into the glass.

    Editor’s note: This Manhattan drink recipe was first printed online in September 2011. Head this way for more of our best whiskey cocktail recipes

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