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Cotswold Cocktail School - Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

ABV 23% / 2.5 alcoholic units

Primary spirit: Rye Whiskey

A Brief History of the Manhattan

The Manhattan's origin story is steeped in intrigue, with multiple tales claiming credit for its creation. One popular theory attributes its birth to a social club banquet held at the Manhattan Club in the early 1870s. Another account suggests it was invented at a bar in New York City around the same time. Regardless of its exact origins, the Manhattan quickly became a symbol of metropolitan sophistication.

The cocktail's name, "Manhattan," is an ode to the city where it was either created or popularised, cementing its place in cocktail history. Over the years, the Manhattan has undergone various iterations, with subtle tweaks to its recipe. Today, it remains a timeless classic that continues to captivate cocktail enthusiasts around the world.

Taste and Flavour Profile

The Manhattan is a cocktail that radiates richness and complexity:

  • Whiskey: The star of the show, typically rye whiskey or bourbon, brings a warm, oaky depth with hints of caramel and spice.
  • Sweet Vermouth: Sweet vermouth contributes sweetness and herbal complexity, complementing the whiskey's robustness.
  • Bitters: A dash of aromatic bitters, often Angostura, provides balance and depth, with subtle notes of spices and herbs.
  • Cherry Garnish: A maraschino cherry garnish adds a touch of sweetness and visual allure.

The result is a cocktail that's smooth, well-rounded, and exudes an air of sophistication—a true classic that has stood the test of time.

Food Pairings

To enhance your Manhattan experience, consider these delectable food pairings:

  • Charcuterie Board: A selection of cured meats, cheeses, and accompaniments like olives and nuts complements the cocktail's complexity.
  • Steak: A well-cooked steak, especially a New York strip or filet mignon, pairs wonderfully with the Manhattan's bold flavours.
  • Dark Chocolate: Rich, dark chocolate desserts harmonise with the cocktail's caramel and spice notes.
  • Oysters: Fresh oysters on the half shell provide a delightful contrast to the cocktail's depth.

Bar Equipment

  • Cocktail shaker
  • Jigger
  • Hawthorne strainer
  • Nick & Nora, Coupe or Rocks glass


  • 60ml Rye Whiskey
  • 30ml Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 x dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish: brandied cherry/lemon twist


  • Add the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well chilled.
  • Pour into a chilled Nick & Nora glass
  • Garnish with a brandied cherry or lemon twist if preferred

What's the best Rye Whiskey for a Manhattan?

The best rye whiskey for a Manhattan cocktail should have a balanced and robust flavour profile that complements the other ingredients in the cocktail. Rye whiskey is the traditional choice for a classic Manhattan, and its spicy and slightly sweet characteristics add depth and complexity to the drink. Here are a few excellent rye whiskey options to consider:

  • Rittenhouse Rye: This is a popular choice among bartenders for making Manhattans. It's known for its bold, spicy, and peppery notes, which work well with the sweet vermouth and bitters in the cocktail.
  • Bulleit Rye: Bulleit Rye is a well-rounded rye whiskey with a rich and slightly sweet flavour profile. It offers a balanced blend of spice, caramel, and vanilla, making it a versatile choice for Manhattans.
  • Basil Hayden's Dark Rye: This rye whiskey combines the traditional spiciness of rye with the sweetness of port wine. It adds a unique dimension to your Manhattan, with notes of dried fruits and spices.
  • Knob Creek Rye: Knob Creek Rye is known for its full-bodied and robust flavour. It has a balanced combination of sweetness, spice, and oakiness, making it a great choice for those who enjoy a hearty Manhattan.
  • High West Double Rye: This rye whiskey is a blend of young and old ryes, creating a complex flavor profile with both spicy and fruity notes. It adds depth and character to your Manhattan.

Ultimately, the best rye whiskey for your Manhattan cocktail may depend on your personal taste preferences. Some people prefer a spicier rye, while others lean towards a sweeter or more balanced option. You can also experiment with different rye whiskeys to find the one that suits your palate and creates the Manhattan that you love the most.

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