Manhattan Cocktail with Rye Whiskey

Rye whiskey nearly vanished for decades, but it’s back in a very big way. In its absence, most Manhattans were made with Kentucky bourbon.  While bourbon makes for a good, sweet Manhattan, rye whiskey adds a spicy kick. The stronger the rye, the better.

Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • ¾ to 1 ounce Italian sweet vermouth
  • 2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry, for garnish
  • Tiny piece of lemon peel, for garnish, optional

— Combine whiskey, vermouth and bitters in a mixing glass with ice. Stir 40 times, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass with the cherry already at the bottom.  A lemon peel may be also added to the drink, for flavor.

A simpler option is to pour whiskey, vermouth and bitters over ice in an Old-Fashioned glass, and stir.

Rittenhouse 100 Rye is the preferred rye for a Manhattan, when mixed with Martini & Rossi or other Italian vermouth. High West Rye is also recommended. For a truly impressive Manhattan, Carpano Antica, one of the most complex Italian vermouths, is highly recommended. I’ll guarantee it’s worth the added expense.

Since bourbon is a little sweeter than rye, Dolin Rouge French Vermouth is preferred over Italian vermouth. After a vermouth bottle is opened, it should be consumed quickly, or stored in the refrigerator, where it will last a month. Write the date that you opened it on the label. Better yet, pump out the air with a low-cost Vacu Vin, and the vermouth will stay fresh even longer.

Published by

John Kiely

The author, formerly a cocktail writer for the Houston Press, is modernizing 88 classic cocktails for a forthcoming book.