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A Manhattan is served in a cocktail or "coupe" glass traditionally (pictured above as a "Perfect Manhattan"), but is often also served in a standard martini glass or on the rocks. The Classic Manhattan is also an IBA Official Cocktail, which is one of many cocktails selected by the International Bartenders Association (IBA) for use in the annual World Cocktail Competition (WCC).

The Manhattan Cocktail--The Story and The Original Recipes   

A Manhattan is a cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and aromatic bitters. Commonly used whiskeys include rye (the traditional choice), Canadian whiskey, bourbon, blended whiskey, and Tennessee whiskey. The cocktail is often stirred and strained into a cocktail glass, where it is garnished with a maraschino cherry with a stem. A Manhattan can also be served on the rocks in a lowball glass, also called a rocks glass. 

There is also the Perfect Manhattan. A Perfect Manhattan is made with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth and is traditionally garnished with a lemon peel twist. The whiskey-based Manhattan is one of five cocktails named for one of New York City five boroughs, but is perhaps most closely related to the Brooklyn cocktail, a mix utilizing dry vermouth and maraschino liqueur in place of the Manhattan's sweet vermouth, as well as Amer Picon in place of the Manhattan's traditional bitters.

*Pro Tip: Be sure to use The BarBack Tool Peeler a for perfectly peeled lemon twist every time! 

The Manhattan is one of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury's classic The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. 


"Classic Manhattan" recipe:                         From Wikipedia

Special equipment: 1 coupe glass


  1. 2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey.
  2. 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth.
  3. 2 dashes Angostura or orange bitters.
  4. 1 maraschino cherry garnish.


Combine the rye or bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters in a glass cocktail shaker, add ice, and stir until chilled. Strain the mixture into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the cherry and serve immediately. (May also be served on the rocks)


"Perfect Manhattan" Classic recipe:           From Wikipedia

Special equipment: 1 coupe glass


  1. 2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey
  2. 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  3. 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  4. 2 dashes Angostura or orange bitters
  5. Fresh, thin lemon peel twist for garnish


Combine the rye or bourbon, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth and bitters in a glass cocktail shaker, add ice, and stir until chilled. Strain the mixture into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the lemon twist and serve immediately.                                     (May also be served on the rocks)


"The Rob Roy Cocktail"            From Wikipedia

The Rob Roy is a cocktails created in 1894 by a bartender at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, New York City. A Rob Roy is similar to a Manhattan but is made exclusively with scotch whiskey, while the Manhattan is traditionally made with rye and today commonly made with Bourbon or Canadian whiskey.

The drink was named in honor of the premiere of Rob Roy, an operetta by composer Reginald De Koven and lyricist Harry B. Smith loosely based upon Scottish folk hero Rob Roy McGregor.

Like the Manhattan, the Rob Roy can be made "sweet", "dry", or "perfect". The standard Rob Roy is the sweet version, made with sweet vermouth, so there is no need to specify a "sweet" Rob Roy when ordering. A "dry" Rob Roy is made by replacing the sweet vermouth with dry vermouth. A "perfect" Rob Roy is made with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.

Special equipment: 1 coupe glass


  1. 2 ounces scotch whiskey
  2. 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  3. 2 dashes Angostura or orange bitters
  4. 1 maraschino cherry garnish


Combine the scotch, sweet vermouth and bitters in a glass cocktail shaker, add ice, and stir until chilled. Strain the mixture into a chilled coupe glass. The Rob Roy is usually served in a cocktail glass and garnished with two maraschino cherries on a skewer (for the standard version) or a lemon twist (for the perfect and dry versions).(May also be served on the rocks)[4][5][6]

Recipes courtesy of Geoffrey Zakarian

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/geoffrey-zakarian/perfect-manhattan.html?oc=linkback




Stories and Legends

A popular history suggests that the drink originated at the Manhattan club in New York City in the early 1870s, where it was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston) in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. The success of the banquet made the drink fashionable, later prompting several people to request the drink by referring to the name of the club where it originated—"the Manhattan cocktail". However, Lady Randolph was in France at the time and pregnant, so the story is likely a fiction.

However, there are prior references to various similar cocktail recipes called "Manhattan" and served in the Manhattan area. By one account it was invented in the 1860s by a bartender named Black at a bar on Broadway near Houston Street.

The original "Manhattan Cocktail" was a mix of "American Whiskey, Italian Vermouth and angostura bitters. During Prohibition (1920–1933) Canadian whisky was primarily used because it was available.

An early record of the cocktail can be found in William Schmidt's "The Flowing Bowl", published in 1891. In it, he details a drink containing 2 dashes of gum (gomme syrup), 2 dashes of bitters, 1 dash of absinthe, 2/3 portion of whiskey and 1/3 portion of vermouth.

The same cocktail appears listed as a "Tennessee Cocktail" in Shake 'em Up! by V. Elliott and P. Strong, copyright 1930 (p. 39): "Two parts of whiskey, one part of Italian Vermouth and a dash of bitters poured over ice and stirred vigorously."


On the small North Frisian island of Fohr, the Manhattan cocktail is a standard drink at almost every cafe restaurant, and "get together" of locals.[11] The story goes, that many of the people of Föhr emigrated to Manhattan during deep sea fishing trips, took a liking to the drink, and brought it back to Föhr with them. The drink is usually mixed 1 part (the 'perfect' is said to be half white/half red) vermouth to 2 parts whiskey, with a dash of bitters, served ice cold, in an ice cold glass, or with ice and a cherry garnish.

There is a mistaken belief that Manhattans are always stirred and never shaken, primarily to avoid persistent foaming. However such foaming now indicates either dirty equipment or less than premium quality ingredients. Traditions for both preparations go back to the late 1800s.[12]

Traditional views insist that a Manhattan be made with American rye whiskey. However, more often than not, it is made with Bourbon or Canadian whiskey. The Manhattan is subject to considerable variation and innovation, and is often a way for the best bartenders to show off their creativity.[7] Some shake the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker instead of stirring it, creating a froth on the surface of the drink. Angostura is the classic bitters, but Orange bitters or Peychaud's bitters may be used. Some make their own bitters and syrups, substitute comparable digestifs in place of vermouth, specialize in local or rare whiskeys, or use other exotic ingredients. A lemon peelmay be used as garnish, and as a traditional rule, is always used in a "Perfect Manhattan" (equal parts sweet and dry vermouth as 1/3 of the finished drink mix. Some add juice from the cherry jar or Maraschino liqueur to the cocktail for additional sweetness and color.

Originally, bitters were considered an integral part of any cocktail, as the ingredient that differentiated a cocktail from a sling. Over time, those definitions of cocktail and sling have become archaic, as sling has fallen out of general use (other than in certain drink names), and cocktail can mean any drink that resembles a martini, or simply any mixed drink.


The following are other variations on the classic Manhattan:

  • A Rob Roy is made with Scotch whiskey
  • A Dry Manhattan is made with dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth, usually also replacing the maraschino cherry with a twist in keeping with the overall principle of reducing the cocktail's sweetness. A Manhattan made with dry vermouth but retaining the cherry rather than twist is sometimes known as a "half-dry Manhattan," but this name risks confusion with the "Perfect Manhattan" (see below), whose quantity of vermouth consists of equal parts sweet vermouth and dry vermouth.
  • A Perfect Manhattan is made with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth and lemon twist.
  • A Brandy Manhattan is made with Brandy instead of whiskey and is very popular in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
  • A Metropolitan is similar to a brandy Manhattan, but with a 3-to-1 ratio of brandy to vermouth
  • A Cuban Manhattan is a Perfect Manhattan with dark rum as its principal ingredient.[16]
  • A Tijuana Manhattan is made with an Anejo tequila
  • The Fourth Regiment is a classic (ca. 1889) cocktail that uses a 1:1 ratio of whiskey and vermouth, and uses three dashes of three different bitters - orange bitters, celery bitters, and Peychaud's bitters.


About.com 's cocktail expert Colleen Graham has a has some great info and cocktail history regarding the Manhattan Cocktail. 

  1. ^
    Recipe for a Manhattan Cocktail from about.com

  2. ^
    http://mybestcocktails.com/recipe-21-Manhattan.html Recipe for a classic Manhattan Cocktail

  3. ^
    The Brooklyn Cocktail | Serious Eats : Recipes

  4. ^
    Holiday Cocktail Party from CocktailTimes.com

  5. a b "Patrick Murphy's The Barman's Corner". Buckeye Tavern. 15 March 1945. pg. 6, col. 2. qtd. in "Moscow Mule; Molotov Cocktail; Manhattan Cocktail". The Linguist List. American Dialect Society. 28 October 2000. Retrieved 2010-03-10.

  6. ^
    Winston Churchill, My Early Life

  7. a b c d e f Regan, Gary (September 21, 2007). "The Manhattan project: A bartender spills his secrets on the king of cocktails". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-09-21.

  8. ^
    Bonisteel, Sara (22 May 2006). "Tipplers Toast the Cocktail on Its 200th 'Anniversary'". Fox News Network. Retrieved 2010-03-10.
    "Manhattan". Cocktail Times. Retrieved 2007-09-21.
    ref:blog The Bar Mixer Has Spoken... retrieved March 6 2013
    Essen und Trinken from Föhr-Digital.de
    Burkhart, Jeff (6 November 2010). "To shake or not to shake". marinij.com. Marin Independent Journal. Retrieved 2013-06-26.

  13. ^
    Levin, Steve (May 12, 2006). "The Origin of Cocktails". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2010-04-16.

  14. ^
    OnMilwaukee.com Bars & Clubs: Wisconsinites love affair with brandy

  15. ^
    Felten, Eric (September 8, 2007). "In a League of Their Own: The Ivy League, That Is". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2007-10-22.
    "Manhattan". Great Cocktails. Retrieved 2007-10-22.
    Donohue, Peter (Feb 2011) Azul 17 Tequila Lounge
    How to make the Fourth Regiment Cocktail - The Cocktail Spirit with Robert Hess

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