The Manhattan Cocktail was originally made with rye whiskey, but rye disappeared for many years after Prohibition. While it was gone, most Manhattans were made with Kentucky bourbon. While bourbon makes for a sweet good Manhattan, rye whiskey adds a solid 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 placed in the bottom. A wisp of a lemon peel adds a subtle tang.
With 3/4 ounce of vermouth you’ll taste whiskey more, but increasing it to 1 ounce tips the taste toward vermouth. Try it both ways.
A simpler option for preparation 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 an 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 for a bourbon “Southern Manhattan”. After a vermouth bottle is opened, it should be consumed quickly, or stored in the refrigerator, where it will last a month or more. Write the date that you opened it on the label. Better yet, to keep your vermouth from slowly turning into herbed vinegar, pump out the air with a low-cost Vacu Vin, and the vermouth will stay fresh even longer.