How to Make the Perfect Manhattan

The classic Manhattan is easy to make, and easier to mess up.

manhattan cocktail
Henry Phillips

In the canon of classic whiskey cocktails, no drink is more poised than the Manhattan, which, like the Old Fashioned, is easy to make, but easier to mess up. Records suggest the original recipe was invented sometime in the late 1800s for a banquet held at the Manhattan Club in Midtown Manhattan. More than a century later, the drink can be found on bar and restaurant menus the world over. But there is perhaps no finer exemplar of the classic cocktail than that found at the award-winning NoMad Bar on the corner of 28th and Broadway, a stone’s throw from the Manhattan’s original birthplace.

“We keep our Manhattan in a traditional perspective,” says Head Bartender Nathan O’Neill. That means just one part vermouth and “two and a little bit” of whiskey, either bourbon or rye. “We give our guests the option,” he says. “Bourbon has fuller flavor and is a touch sweeter on the palate. Rye is more classical. It’s a little spicier with more pepper coming through. I personally prefer rye.”

Mixed with bitters, stirred and just barely diluted with a ice, the cocktail is strained, then garnished with cherries, which tie into the taste of the vermouth, says O’Neill. As for the glass, he prefers the coupe (essentially a rounded martini glass) over a double Old Fashioned. “The coupe encloses the drink,” he says, “and offers a nice way to take in all those aromatics of the whiskey.” Here’s how to make one at home.

The Manhattan

Makes one cocktail

3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
1 ounce Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
2.5 ounces Old Overholt Rye Whiskey or Old Forester Bourbon
3 Luxardo cherries


1. Combine bitters, vermouth and whiskey in mixing glass.

2. Add cubed ice and stir until preferred dilution has been reached (about 30 seconds).

3. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a three cherries on a metal cocktail pick.

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