The Perfect Manhattan recipe

April 23, 2017 (Last Updated: August 15, 2020) - As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

There are perfect Manhattans, and Perfect Manhattans. It may be confusing, but when you ask the bartender for “a perfect Manhattan”, you may not be getting what you asked for. One of these is a Manhattan that is better than no other, while the other is a distinct cocktail recipe that is different than a Manhattan. We have previously covered a Manhattan recipe that should get you on the way to perfection of a Manhattan. A Perfect Manhattan, however, has a distinct recipe list. I will share the Perfect Manhattan recipe and look at the difference between a Manhattan and a Perfect Manhattan.

Vermouth is the delta in the Perfect Manhattan recipe

A traditional Manhattan cocktail calls for sweet vermouth, but a Perfect Manhattan recipe calls for sweet and dry vermouth.Perfect Manhattan recipe Seems simple enough and it should be, but I think it is worth exploring why adding both may make for a more balanced drink.

Let’s look at the non-vermouth ingredients in a Manhattan. First, there is the whiskey. While I choose Bulleit rye whiskey for my standard Manhattan cocktail, many people choose bourbon. An element of sweet and spice is added, no matter what whiskey is chosen. Rye tends to have more of a spice profile and bourbon tends to have more of a sweet profile. Bitters generally add a punch of spice to the drink. The maraschino cherry adds a sweet element to the drink.

Even before vermouth is added to the mix, there is a flavor profile battle going on. Sweet vs spicy. I prefer to add rye whiskey to balance the sweetness in a traditional Manhattan recipe. In the Perfect Manhattan recipe, instead of 1 oz of sweet vermouth, add ½ oz of sweet and dry vermouth.

How dry vermouth impacts whiskey choice

The use of both gives a more even flavor profile and gives more opportunity for different kinds of whiskey. My preference for a classic Manhattan is rye whiskey, but in a Perfect Manhattan recipe, I think anything goes. There is more tolerance for bourbon since some of the sweetness is removed and more of the spice profile is added. This is why I choose Maker’s Mark whiskey for my Perfect Manhattan recipe.


The Perfect Manhattan recipe

Perfect Manhattan recipe

There is a difference between a perfect Manhattan and the Perfect Manhattan and it is in the vermouth.

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


  • Ice
  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark Whiskey
  • 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Bitters
  • 1 Luxardo Maraschino Cherry


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

Keywords: Perfect Manhattan

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Things I Am Digging - July 2018 Edition - Ramshackle Pantry
    July 13, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    […] have been at this for over a year. It amazes me just how much improvement we have made from one of our first posts to the likes of some of our most recent. It actually makes me really proud of just how far we […]

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.