One of the most popular cocktails ever crafted, the Manhattan is easy to make, delicious, and—at less than 200 calories a glass on average—even ab-friendly.
Although its origins are hard to discover—some say it was the hip drink served at an 1870s-era NYC hot spot known as the Manhattan Club, while others argue it was created by European fishermen trying to remind themselves of time spent visiting the New World—there’s no disputing the classic allure of the Manhattan.
And even if you’re all thumbs behind the bar, it’s not a problem—this is a drink any beginner mixologist can master with just a little practice.
How to make the Manhattan?
You’ll need to mix 2 parts whiskey, 1 part sweet vermouth and 1–2 dashes bitters. At the end, you can also add a slice of orange peel or a cherry.
What matters is the quality of ingredients and the mixing technique
While the recipe itself is quite straightforward, the greatness of the drink comes from the quality of the ingredients you add and the technique you use to mix them in the glass.
Manhattans normally call for corn-based Canadian whiskey, which tastes lighter and smoother than grain-based spirits. Bourbon makes it sweeter, while rye adds sharpness and complexity.
A kind of herb-infused, fortified wine, vermouth is the secret weapon for giving your Manhattan that barely earthy chew. However, keep in mind that all vermouths aren’t created equal. Carpano is the gold customary, and one of the flavourful varieties in the marketplace.
These potent elixirs help give your cocktail its punch. Angostura, which has its own signature flavour, is probably the most commonly used brand, but this is another case where you can to experiment. Try varieties that seem dark or rich, like fig, chocolate, tobacco, smoke, or coffee. All of them mix into the drink perfectly.
Mixing the drink
When a cocktail is made only from spirits, it’s best to stir ingredients together. Add the whiskey, vermouth, and bitters to a metal shaker that’s filled with ice, and stir it all about 30 times with a long metal spoon. The drink is best straight up, but if you want ice, add a big cocktail-size cube, which will dissolve more slowly and make for a less watery drink.
A slice of orange peel is standard in most Manhattans. Just squeeze it over the glass to release a burst of fresh citrus oils before dropping it in. You can also add one or two cherries—go for a classic Maraschino or the bourbon-soaked variety. Pre-made bourbon cherries can be expensive and hard to find. Fortunately, making your own is fast and easy.
DIY: Here’s how you make drunken cherries at home
Grab a sealable jar and lid, 1–2 cups of fresh cherries, 1 cup of bourbon, and some brown sugar.
Heat the bourbon until it’s simmering but not boiling, then stir in a few tablespoons of brown sugar. Stir the hot liquid until the sugar’s dissolved, then pour it over a jar tightly filled with cherries. Add a chunk of orange peel, some pomegranate seeds, or a cinnamon stick to amp up the flavour.
Let the mixture cool a bit, then seal it up and store it in the fridge for at least a week before using. Once made, the cherries will keep for up to six months.