Cocktail perfection – What makes a Manhattan cocktail drinkable?

March 26, 2017 (Last Updated: June 16, 2019) - As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

This Manhattan Cocktail is a classic drink with all of the flavors of old New York and a beautiful cherry to go with it.

Made Manhattan Cocktail on a table with bulleit rye next to it

To better understand what makes a great Manhattan cocktail, we must look at the ingredients. I am going to briefly cover each of the ingredients of this libation classic and then give the recipe for the best Manhattan cocktail. In future posts, I will give more attention to the individual ingredients. There are many opinions on what makes a great Manhattan and I will try to find what is the best!

Whiskey matters in a Manhattan Cocktail

The Manhattan cocktail is a whiskey drink. Even more specifically, and depending on who you talk to, a Manhattan is All ingredients for a Manhattan cocktailtraditionally made with rye whiskey or bourbon whiskey. And like many drinks during prohibition, it may have some semi legitimate history with Canadian whiskey.


My research suggests that the more likely used whiskey in a traditional Manhattan cocktail is a rye. Given that presumption, that is the ingredient I will use for the best Manhattan cocktail. And my use of rye is not only to mimic historical context, but there are flavor reasons.

Bourbon tends to be a bit sweeter than rye and this is a drink that will already have sweet elements. The addition of sweet vermouth and a maraschino cherry makes the drink sweet already. I don’t think it is necessary to add more sugar to the drink. Rye tends to have spicier over tones and can balance the sweetness that is already brought to the drink. I am a firm believer in drinking what you like, but I am going to roll with rye as my primary ingredient in a Manhattan cocktail.

Vermouth matters too

Vermouth is a fortified wine and traditional Manhattan cocktail calls for sweet vermouth. Different wines have different flavors and can impact the taste of your cocktails. This is no different. The brand that almost every pedestrian bar and liquor store will have is Martini & Rossi. If you can find other brands, I would suggest giving them a try if you have not had any others.


This is a botanically infused alcoholic mixture that, surprisingly, gives a bitter taste. I have been using Angostora bitters and have been very happy with this product.

Maraschino Cherries

I cannot sell Luxardo cherries enough. I have tried a few different brands, including those non-natural looking zombie cherries, but none compare to Luxardo brand maraschino cherries.

Construction of the Manhattan cocktail

It seems that many stir the ingredients in a shaker and then strain into a cocktail glass. It would be very similar to the construction of a martini, but not me. I prefer my Manhattan cocktails served on the rocks in a lowball glass.


Cocktail perfection – What makes a Manhattan cocktail drinkable?

Made Manhattan Cocktail on a table with bulleit rye next to it

Here is a discussion about what makes a Manhattan cocktail drinkable and a great recipe to go along with it.

  • Author: Ben Myhre
  • Prep Time: 2 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 Minutes
  • Total Time: 5 Minutes
  • Yield: 1 Cocktail 1x
  • Category: Cocktails
  • Method: Shaker
  • Cuisine: America


  • Ice
  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Bitters
  • 1 Luxardo Maraschino Cherry


  1. Fill lowball glass with ice for measurement.
  2. Place ice into a shaker.
  3. Add Vermouth, Rye, and Bitters.
  4. Use mixing spoon to stir ingredients thoroughly.
  5. Pour entire contents into lowball glass.

Keywords: Manhattan cocktail

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