how to make a manhattan cocktail: the classic or traditional recipe

A traditional Manhattan drink is usually made with Rye Whisky and sweet vermouth. As usually is the case with many of the cocktails that have been around for a while, there are quite a bit of variations of the classic version that are just as popular.

While the cocktail can be shaken as served as a traditional martini in a martini glass, it can also be stirred and served over ice. Either way, the ingredients and the proportions remain the same.

So, What is in a classic Manhattan drink ?


  • 3 shots of Rye Whisky
  • 1 shot of the Sweet Vermouth
  • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • 1 Maraschino Cherry for garnish
Manhattan Cocktail Drink

Preparation (shaken and in a Martini glass)

  1. Put ice cubes in the martini shaker to chill the shaker
  2. Add three shots of your favorite Rye Whisky into the shaker
  3. Add a shot (or one a half) of the Sweet Vermouth into the shaker
  4. Shake the ingredients very well.
  5. Put a generous dash of the angostura bitter into a chilled martini glass and swirl it around so that the bitters coat the glass
  6. Strain the contents of the martini shaker into the glass
  7. Garnish with a maraschino cherry

You can also serve the classic manhattan drink on the rocks.

Preparation (stirred and on rocks)

  1. Put ice cubes into an old fashioned glass
  2. Add three shots of the Rye Whisky into the glass
  3. Add a shot and a half of the sweet vermouth into the glass
  4. Add a dash of the angostura bitters
  5. Stir the contents well using a stir or the long end of a cocktail spoon
  6. Garnish with a maraschino cherry
  7. Serve immediately

Variations and Similar Drinks

A bottle of Stock Sweet Vermouth with a bottle of the Rye Whisky

As mentioned earlier, there are several variations based on the class mahattan cocktail. Most of the times, the variations involves just switching out one of the ingredients with an another maintaining the proportions. Some of the popular variations are

  • Dry Manhattan:   Use dry vermouth instead of the sweet vermouth. Also, substitute the garnish with a lemon twist instead of the cherry
  • Brandy Manhattan: Use Brandy instead of the Rye Whisky
  • Cuban Manhattan: Use Dark Rum instead of the Rye Whisky
  • Royal Manhattan: Use Canadian Whisky instead of the Rye Whisky
  • Paris Manhattan: Substitutes the Sweet Vermouth with St Germain and Dry Vermouth.

One variations of the Manhattan drink which uses a different proportion than the classic but with the same ingredients is the Perfect Manhattan cocktail. A Perfect Manhattan uses equal parts of Rye Whisky and Sweet Vermouth.

Tips and Notes

  • A shot is usually about 1.5 ounces. Your shot glass size size may vary, but it should be fine as long as you keep the proportions correct.
  • Some recipe call for a shot and a half of vermouth instead of a shot. If you like the drink a little sweeter, increase the proportion of the red vermouth.