If you’re a fan of whiskey cocktails, then this Perfect Manhattan recipe is definitely one to add to your list of must-try drinks. A well-made Manhattan is a perfect balance of sweet and bitter, with a smooth and smoky finish that lingers on the palate. In this article we’ll be sharing everything you need to know to make the perfect Manhattan cocktail at home.

What is a Perfect Manhattan Cocktail?

The Manhattan cocktail is a classic whiskey-based cocktail that originated in the late 1800s in New York City. The “Perfect Manhattan” is not just “perfect” it’s a variation on the classic Manhattan cocktail recipe. The traditional Manhattan cocktail is made with rye, sweet vermouth and bitters while the Perfect Manhattan also includes dry vermouth. Manhattans are typically served in chilled coupe or Nick and Nora cocktail glasses and garnished with brandied cherries.

What Type of Whiskey to Use?

Rye whiskey is the traditional choice for a Manhattan cocktail (it’s also the traditional choice for an Old Fashioned), but you can also use bourbon if you prefer a sweeter, smoother taste. Rye whiskey has a slightly spicy and drier flavor compared to bourbon, which is sweeter and smoother. However, if you’re making a classic Manhattan, then rye whiskey is the way to go.

manhattan cocktail in a coupe glass garnished with a cherry. someone's hand holding the cocktail

Ingredients in the Perfect Manhattan

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make the perfect Manhattan cocktail:

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • ½ ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ice
  • Brandied cherry, for garnish

How to Make the Perfect Manhattan

Now that you have all the ingredients, let’s get started on making the perfect Manhattan cocktail. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Chill a Nick & Nora or coupe cocktail glass in the freezer for at least 10 minutes before making your cocktail.
  2. Fill a cocktail mixing glass or shaker with ice.
  3. Add the whiskey, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters to the cocktail mixing glass or shaker.
  4. Using a bar spoon, stir the cocktail until thoroughly chilled, 20–30 seconds.
  5. Using a cocktail strainer, strain the cocktail into your chilled glass.
  6. Garnish with a brandied cherry or two and serve immedaitely.

How to Serve a Manhattan

The Manhattan cocktail is typically served in a chilled coupe or Nick & Nora glass. You can also use a martini glass. Because a Manhattan cocktail is not served over ice, it’s important to chill the glass beforehand to keep the cocktail cool for as long as possible.

When it comes to garnishing your Manhattan, a couple of brandied cherries traditional. You can also add a twist of lemon or orange peel for added flavor.

manhattan cocktail in a coupe glass set on a wood table with a cherry as a garnish

Tips for Making the Perfect Manhattan

Here are a few tips to help you make the perfect Manhattan cocktail:

  1. Use high-quality ingredients. The quality of your whiskey and vermouth will greatly affect the taste of your cocktail. Choose a good quality rye whiskey and sweet vermouth to get the best results.
  2. Be precise with your measurements. The ratios of whiskey to vermouth and bitters are important in creating the perfect balance of flavors. Use a jigger or measuring cup to ensure you’re adding the right amount of each ingredient.
  3. Stir, don’t shake. Unlike James Bond’s preference for a shaken martini, a Manhattan should be stirred. Shaking can cause the cocktail to become too diluted and cloudy.
  4. Play around with the ratios. Once you give this perfect manhattan recipe a try, play around with the ratios of the sweet vermouth and the dry vermouth until you land on one that suits you best!


What are some easy cocktail recipes?

Aside from the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned, Bourbon Smash, Tommy’s Margarita and Sidecar Cocktail are all easy and classic cocktail recipes.

What is the easiest layered cocktail to make?

The New York Sour is the easiest layered drink to make and it’s the most popular! You can also try a Devil’s Margarita.

What are some cocktails to make with elderflower liqueur?

The French 77 is a classic cocktail that uses Elderflower liqueur!

What is your favorite mezcal cocktail and why?

My favorite mezcal cocktail would have to be our Smoky Mezcal Whiskey Sour because it’s balanced and boozy. I also love our Mezcal Old Fashioned, Mezcal Margarita and Spicy Mezcal Margarita. You can learn more about mezcal here.

What’s the difference between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned?

Check out our deep dive on the differences between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned. The cliff notes: an Old Fashioned is made with whiskey, sugar and bitters while a Manhattan is made with whiskey, vermouth and bitters.

Perfect Manhattan Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Yield 1 cocktail
Category Cocktails / Drinks
Cuisine Amercican


The Perfect Manhattan Cocktail combines your favorite whiskey with a splash of sweet vermouth and bitters. It's a classic for a reason!


  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • ½ ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters
  • garnish with a brandied cherry and/or lemon twist


  • Add whiskey, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth and bitters to a cocktail mixing glass filled with ice.
  • Using a bar spoon, stir the cocktail until chilled.
  • Strain cocktail into a chilled Nick & Nora or Coupe glass.
  • Garnish with a brandied cherry or two and a lemon twist, if desired.


Be sure to chill your glass in the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving. This will help keep the cocktail cold as you drink it!
If you like your cocktails “hotter” and slightly spicy, use rye. If you prefer them smoother and sweeter, use bourbon.


Serving: 1 cocktailCalories: 173kcalCarbohydrates: 1gSugar: 1g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
manhattan cocktail in a coupe glass set on a wood table with a cherry as a garnish

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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