Classic Manhattan Cocktail

A whiskey cocktail in a stemmed glass is garnished with a cherry and orange peel.

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Today’s Friday Night Delight is a classic, sophisticated cocktail. I haven’t done too many of the very classic drinks on the blog yet, but since I’m focusing on one liquor per month, I thought it would be fun to share some of the very classic recipes along with more modern ways to use each liquor. January is bourbon, and the Manhattan is probably as classic as you can get — tied only with the martini.

If you’re new to Manhattans, you should know right now that this is not a beverage for the faint of heart. It’s a strong, serious, Mad Men-esque cocktail. Though it’s typically made with rye whiskey, I like the Manhattan better with bourbon as I find it makes it a bit sweeter and easier on my palate. It’s also the Southern way to do it, which is totally fine by me. You should try the Manhattan both ways — with rye whiskey and with bourbon — and decide how you like it.

A classic whiskey cocktail sits with some of its ingredients on a white marble surface.

To make a Manhattan, you’ll need bourbon or rye whiskey, Italian vermouth and a couple dashes of Angostura bitters. Everything goes into a cocktail shaker filled with ice before shaking and straining into a cocktail glass. I like to shake mine vigorously until the ice is ‘bruised,’ which means there are tiny ice crystals that float on top of the drink. Bruising is technically a martini term, but it can apply here too.

A decorative skewer holds a cherry wrapped in an orange peel over an amber cocktail.

Then, you’ll garnish with a twist of an orange peel and a maraschino cherry. But if I’m being totally honest, for this one, I used a cherry leftover from the Cherry Bounce I made over the summer. My family and I drank it throughout the holidays, and now I am left with two jars of incredible, spiced fermented cherries that go surprisingly well in the classic Manhattan. Don Draper would be proud. // susannah

A classic Manhattan Cocktail on a white marble surface.
An overhead view of a Manhattan Cocktail with a bottle of Angostura bitters and a dark gray cocktail jigger.

Manhattan Cocktail

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
A classic cocktail for the serious whiskey lover
5 from 2 votes
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  • 2 ½ ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
  • ½ ounce sweet Italian vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • ice cubes
  • 1 cocktail cherry for garnish
  • 1 piece orange peel for garnish


  • Add bourbon, vermouth and bitters to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry and an orange twist.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 cocktail

amount per serving:

Serving: 1cocktail Calories: 545kcal Carbohydrates: 31g Protein: 3g Fat: 1g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Sodium: 198mg Fiber: 3g Sugar: 13g
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  1. Melissa says

    “You should try the Manhattan both ways — with rye whiskey and with bourbon — and decide how you like it.”

    You have the best advice. Manhattan tasting party!

  2. Meghan @ Cake 'n' Knife says

    I LOVE a strong Manhattan at the end of the day – it’s like I’m in an episode of Mad Men! If only Don Draper would whip up the cocktail for me… 🙂

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