The Best Manhattan Recipe


My copy of Imbibe by David Wondrich hasn’t been in my collection long, but it’s already showing the tell-tale signs of a favorite. The binding’s been cracked, nearly half the pages are earmarked, and dots of Angostura bitters and various spirits stain more than a handful of pages. My little tromp will only take me through one or two pages, so this is going to be far from a review, but I want to emphatically recommend you purchase this didactic Bible of classic drinking.

My recent foray through his section on the Martini and Manhattan has prompted the following question.

What is your favorite Manhattan recipe?

Here is mine, ripped direct from the pages of Imbibe.

Manhattan (New Standard)

  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 dashes gum syrup (you can leave this out)
  • 1 dash absinthe (used Kubler)
  • 2oz rye whiskey (used Rittenhouse bonded)
  • 1oz sweet vermouth (used Carpano Antica)
  • 1/4t maraschino liqueur (used Luxardo)
  • lemon peel, for garnish

Stir with cracked ice and strain into your fanciest cocktail glass, which you’ve no doubt chilled to perfection. Twist the lemon peel on top and discard.

William “The Only WIlliam” Schmidt, The Flowing Bowl, 1892

What’s Yours?

Make sure to list:

  1. Proportions
  2. Brands
  3. Source

17 Responses to “The Best Manhattan Recipe”

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17 Comments to “ The Best Manhattan Recipe”
  1. Jay HepburnNo Gravatar says:

    For my Manhattans I like to keep things fairly simple. 2oz Rittenhouse Bonded, 1oz Antica Formula, 2 dashes TBT Aromatic, 1 dash TBT Orange, and an orange zest for garnish. Or if I’m feeling indulgent (and in need of something stiffer!) I might use Thomas H. Handy instead.

    I’ve tried Maraschino in Manhattans, but personally if I’m going that route I’d rather have a Brooklyn.

  2. DarcyNo Gravatar says:

    This is my preferred, but mostly impossible to get outside my house.

    1½ oz Vya Sweet Vermouth
    ¾ oz Wiser’s Whisky
    6 Drops Unicum Bitters
    1 tsp Maraschino

    Garnish with a small slice of lemon directly in the drink

    Doesn’t adding absinthe to a Manhattan make it something new?

  3. My favorite is one I called The Candied Manhattan:

    2 oz Michter’s American Whiskey (or Rittenhouse 100 Proof)
    1 oz Vya Red Vermouth
    1 barspoon Orange-Vanilla Cognac Liqueur (home made)
    2 dashes Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrels Aged Bitters

    Stir ingredients together (never shake), Garnish with candied orange slice (or peel) soaked in the orange-vanilla cognac liqueur and two amarena cherries.

    Here’s a link to the story on this drink:


  4. AKNo Gravatar says:

    A friend of mine prefers hers pretty similar to the “New Standard.” She likes 2-to-1 with Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Punt e Mes, 3 dashes Angostura, 1 of Peychaud’s, 1/4 oz Luxardo, and a dash of absinthe with a twist to finish.

    I’m fond of Bourbon & Branch’s Black Manahattan, except the way they do it at Alembic in SF: 2 oz Buffalo Trace, 1 oz Averna, orange bitters and a flamed orange peel.

    If I’m going for a real Manhattan, though, expect Rittenhouse Bonded and Punt e Mes with Angostura bitters and a flamed orange peel.

    A dash of Benedictine is unlikely to be cause for regret.

  5. ZuckervatiNo Gravatar says:

    A friend of mine keeps making his own Maraschino cherries. Once you get used to them, it’s difficult to return to those fluorescent red atrocities. Also, I’ve always liked using Canadian whiskys.

    2 oz. Wiser’s Small Batch
    3 dashes Angostura bitters
    1 dash Fee Bros. orange bitters
    1 oz. Lillet
    1 Luxardo-soaked sour cherry
    lemon peel

    Run lemon peel around rim of a chilled cocktail glass, and discard. Drop the cherry in. Add remaining drink ingredients plus ice in mixer and shake. Strain into cocktail glass and serve.

  6. BonzoGalNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t have a favorite yet, I like to switch them up depending on what’s around. My Mom and all her siblings, though, always drank Canadian Club with whatever sweet vermouth was around, Angostura bitters and a maraschino cherry. (One of the neon ones.) Even though I know better recipes and ingredients now, I still have a soft spot for one of my Mom’s Manhattans. It’s like a “comfort food” drink, and a couple definitely ease the pain of large family gatherings!

  7. MissMeaghanNo Gravatar says:

    Lately I’m loving this recipe, within the first sip a tough day melts away!
    2 dashes Angostura bitters
    3/4 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
    2 1/4 oz Rittenhouse bonded
    Luxardo Maraschino cherry for garnish
    Combine bitters, vermouth and rye in a mixing glass. Fill with glass with cracked ice and stir well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish.

  8. I use this recipe with Brandy and then used a very small amount of pure maple syrup cause no gum syrup available. The syrup gives it a very silky finish that really goes down good. Thanks

  9. TiareNo Gravatar says:

    I don`t have a favorite yet either..

    WOW that garnish was nice!


  10. RowenNo Gravatar says:

    2 oz bourbon or rye of the moment (let’s say Old Overholt cuz I got it again after a long break)
    3/4 oz Punt e Mes
    2 dashes Fee Bros Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
    Maraschino cherry (quality)

    The cherry needs a little help. After exhausting a string of three different retailers for naturally flavored maraschino cherries without preservatives, I’m finally and sadly without a source. Right now, I’m planning to make them in the summer. In the meantime, I have Morello cherries with a little almond-Heering-Luxardo mixture (tasty) in their syrup and Griottines–good interim solutions, but I love real maraschinos. Can’t wait to have ’em again.

  11. Jeff FraneNo Gravatar says:

    Basics, basics.

    2 oz Rittenhouse BIB (or Old Grand-dad BIB)
    1 oz Antica Formula
    2 dashes Angostura orange bitters
    1 house-made brandied cherry

    I’ve also had excellent results with Vya Sweet Vermouth

  12. BunnyhugsNo Gravatar says:

    Darcy’s recipe is interesting.

    I finally tried Unicum the other week and I was rather taken with the stuff. It reminded me very much Gamel Dansk, but it is sweeter, more complex, and way nicer. . . Unicum is super intense, and although it has a fair bit of sugar in it, I can see six drops or so really transforming a drink.

  13. GordoNo Gravatar says:

    Manhattans were my first cocktail, discovered during my first New England winter after expatriating Southern California. For a long time I didn’t want to know how to make them so they stayed special but over time I started having to instruct ‘tenders how to make them and I grew tired of Makers Mark.

    This page has been extremely useful. I’m now sipping on:

    2oz Rittenhouse BIB
    1oz Cinzano (it was the best I could find)
    2 dashes Angostura (they were out of the orange)
    1/4 tsp Kahana Macadamia Nut liqueur in place of the Luxardo.

    The macadamia nut flavor mixes really well with the overall nuttiness of the drink.

  14. RickNo Gravatar says:

    Gordo, really interesting on the macadamia nut liqueur. I’ll definitely have to give that a try. The cinzano sweet isn’t bad at all, and Angostura is delightful in a Manhattan. Cheers!

  15. Matt SchachtNo Gravatar says:

    I guess I like a larger drink:

    3 oz. Sazerac 6y Rye
    1.25 oz. Carpano Punt e Mes
    3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
    Stir in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

    Have a bottle of Antica Formula that I haven’t tried yet. May become the new gold standard.

  16. jamesNo Gravatar says:

    In my manhattan’s i like almost a perfect manhattan

    60ml Rittenhouse rye
    10ml noilly pratt dry vermouth
    5ml punt e mes
    5ml luxardo maraschino liqueur
    3 dashes angostura bitters

    I find it has really nice balance

  17. Paul SkavNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve been fascinated by how much difference the ingredients (brand of rye/vermouth/bitters) one chooses can make! Try this sometime:

    2 oz Jim Beam Rye (standard yellow label)
    1 oz Vya
    1-2 dashes Regan’s Orange bitters (Fee’s also good)

    *garnish with twist of orange (make sure spray goes in glass!) and I skip the cherry because good cherries have been hard for me to find.

    The Jim Beam doesn’t seem to have many fans but I like how spicy it is, and with the orange it makes a very yummy concoction. Using something like Overholt makes the drink so smooth it loses its interesting character. Anyway, give it a shot. If you used Carpano Antica I wouldn’t complain.

    Basically I found that the reason I used to hate Manhattans was because of crappy vermouth. I’m sorry, but cheapass vermouth just ruins the drink. I’m talking to you, Mr. Martini & Rossi. Once a friend taught me about Vya this became my favorite cocktail, hands down.



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