The Manhattan cocktail is a classic drink that dates back to the late 1800s– it’s certainly one of the most popular whiskey cocktails in the world. There are many variations of the Manhattan, but the classic recipe has always been a favorite whiskey drink of cocktail lovers.


Simple recipe for a Manhattan in a chilled glass on bar by drew beamer via unsplash

Photo by Drew Beamer via


It’s spirit-forward and slightly bitter from the aromatic bitters. For variations, you could switch up your cocktail ingredients: Try orange bitters or even another flavor like lavender, or switch out your 2 ounces rye whiskey for bourbon whiskey instead.

But whatever you do, don’t mix up the 1 ounce sweet vermouth with 1 ounce dry vermouth!


Stirring the Manhattan cocktail in a mixing glass before adding 2 dashes bitters

Photo copyright A Bar Above


Like many other classic cocktails, the origin of this drink is not perfectly clear. The most widely accepted story is that a bartender named Black created the cocktail in the early 1880s at the famous Hoffman House in New York, but there are no shortages of entertaining stories.


The Manhattan, a 3 ingredient cocktail

Photo copyright A Bar Above


My personal favorite (albeit debunked) story was that the cocktail was created for a political event hosted by Winston Churchill’s mother. But no matter who came up with the original recipe, generations of cocktail lovers tip their coupes in gratitude. (Myself included!)


Head bartender pouring the Manhattan with 2 ounces whiskey

Photo copyright A Bar Above


Note: This is a spirit-forward, stirred drink— no cocktail shaker needed! Instead, you’ll stir this famous cocktail in a mixing glass with your bar spoon.

Also, when it comes to garnishes, the craft cocktail community seems split on whether to use a cocktail cherry or orange peel– but whatever you do, don’t just throw in a maraschino cherry, please!


Bartender holding one of the most classic whiskey cocktails, the Manhattan

Photo copyright A Bar Above


In the video below, you can see there are many different variations on this cocktail, but the traditional should be easy to remember based on Manhattan’s area code: 212. Use that little trick to remember 2 ounces whiskey, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, and 2 dashes of bitters. Easy, right?


Well, whichever way you choose to make it, the Manhattan cocktail is also a popular choice for serving at parties and other gatherings, especially during the upcoming holidays. Whether you are looking for a classic cocktail recipe or a new twist on an old favorite, the Manhattan cocktail is sure to please.





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Course: Drinks


  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters


  • Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice.
  • Stir with a bar spoon to chill and dilute.
  • Strain with a julep cocktail strainer into a chilled coupe glass (or rocks glass or Nick & Nora cocktail glass).
  • Finish with a cocktail cherry garnish or orange twist/orange peel.