Classic Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

Are you a fan of classic cocktails? If so, then the bourbon Manhattan cocktail is a must-try for you. This iconic cocktail has been a favorite among whiskey enthusiasts for decades, and its simple yet sophisticated flavor profile continues to impress cocktail lovers to this day.

The bourbon Manhattan is a timeless drink that is made with just a few key ingredients: bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The combination of these ingredients creates a well-balanced cocktail with a rich and smooth flavor. The bourbon provides a hint of sweetness and depth, while the sweet vermouth adds a touch of herbal complexity. To enhance the flavors even further, a few dashes of bitters are added to give the drink a subtle yet unmistakable bitterness.

To make a bourbon Manhattan, start by filling a mixing glass with ice. Add 2 parts bourbon, 1 part sweet vermouth, and a few dashes of bitters. Stir the mixture gently to combine the ingredients and chill the drink. Then, strain the cocktail into a chilled martini glass or cocktail glass. You can also serve it over ice in a rocks glass if you prefer. Finally, garnish with a cherry or a twist of lemon peel for a touch of visual appeal.


To make a classic bourbon Manhattan, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Bourbon: The key ingredient of this cocktail. Choose a high-quality bourbon with a rich and smooth flavor.
  • Vermouth: A fortified wine that adds sweetness and depth to the drink. Both sweet and dry vermouth can be used, depending on your preference.
  • Bitters: A few dashes of aromatic bitters are essential to balance the sweetness of the vermouth and enhance the overall flavor of the cocktail. Angostura bitters are commonly used in a Manhattan.
  • Cherry: A maraschino cherry is often used as a garnish for a classic bourbon Manhattan. It adds a touch of sweetness and complements the flavors of the cocktail.
  • Orange twist: Optional, but adding an orange twist can provide a hint of citrus aroma to the drink.
  • Ice: Ice is necessary for chilling the cocktail and keeping it cold while drinking.

By combining these simple ingredients in the right proportions, you can create a classic bourbon Manhattan cocktail that is both sophisticated and enjoyable to drink.



To make a classic bourbon Manhattan cocktail, follow the step-by-step instructions below:

  1. Gather your ingredients: You will need 2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth, 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters, a cocktail cherry and a lemon twist for garnish.
  2. Prepare your glass: Fill a mixing glass or a cocktail shaker with ice to chill the glass.
  3. Measure and pour the ingredients: Pour 2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth, and 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters into the mixing glass or shaker.
  4. Stir or shake: Stir the mixture with a bar spoon or shake it vigorously with a cocktail shaker until well combined and chilled. The stirring method is preferred for a smoother drink, while the shaking method may give a slightly frothy texture.
  5. Strain into a glass: Strain the cocktail mixture into a chilled cocktail glass using a julep strainer or a fine-mesh strainer to remove ice and any solids.
  6. Garnish and serve: Garnish your classic bourbon Manhattan cocktail with a cocktail cherry and a lemon twist. Serve it neat (without ice) or over a large ice cube if desired.

Enjoy your classic bourbon Manhattan cocktail responsibly and savor the rich flavors of bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters in every sip!

Tips for Making the Perfect Classic Bourbon Manhattan

Tips for Making the Perfect Classic Bourbon Manhattan

  1. Use high-quality ingredients: Since the flavors in a Manhattan are minimal, it’s important to use high-quality ingredients to achieve a well-balanced drink. Opt for a good bourbon that you enjoy sipping on its own, as its taste will shine through in the cocktail.
  2. Properly balance the ingredients: The classic ratio for a Manhattan is 2 parts bourbon, 1 part sweet vermouth, and a few dashes of bitters. However, you can adjust these proportions to suit your taste preferences. Experiment with different ratios to find the perfect balance of sweetness and strength.
  3. Choose the right type of glassware: A traditional Manhattan is typically served in a chilled cocktail glass. The glassware you use can affect the overall presentation and drinking experience, so choose a glass that allows the flavors and aromas to be enjoyed to their fullest.
  4. Stir, don’t shake: Unlike a Martini, a Manhattan is traditionally stirred rather than shaken. Stirring gently combines the flavors without diluting the drink too much. Use a long-handled bar spoon to stir the cocktail and avoid agitating the ice too vigorously.
  5. Garnish with a cherry: A final touch to the perfect Classic Bourbon Manhattan is the garnish. A maraschino cherry is the traditional choice, adding a sweet and tangy note to the cocktail. Place the cherry on a toothpick and rest it on the rim of the glass or drop it directly into the drink.

Choosing the Right Bourbon

The age of the bourbon refers to the amount of time it has been aged in oak barrels. Typically, the longer a bourbon is aged, the more flavorful and smooth it becomes. If you prefer a mellow and well-rounded taste, you may opt for a bourbon that has been aged for at least four years. On the other hand, if you enjoy a bold and robust flavor, you might choose a bourbon that has been aged for eight years or more.

  • Age: Consider the amount of time the bourbon has been aged. Longer aging generally leads to a smoother, more flavorful bourbon.
  • Proof: The proof of a bourbon refers to its alcohol content. Higher proof bourbons tend to have a stronger and more intense flavor, while lower proof bourbons are often smoother and more mellow. Consider your personal preferences and the desired taste of your Manhattan cocktail when choosing the right proof.
  • Mash Bill: The mash bill of a bourbon refers to the combination of grains used in its production. Different mash bills can result in different flavor profiles. For example, bourbons with a higher percentage of corn in their mash bill tend to have a sweeter and more caramel-like taste, while those with a higher percentage of rye can be spicier and more peppery.
  • Brand: There are numerous bourbon brands available, each with their own unique characteristics and flavor profiles. Some popular bourbon brands known for their quality and taste include Maker’s Mark, Bulleit, Woodford Reserve, and Four Roses. It’s worth experimenting with different brands to find the one that best suits your palate.

Choosing the right bourbon for your Manhattan cocktail can enhance the overall flavor and enjoyment of the drink. By considering factors such as age, proof, mash bill, and brand, you can select a bourbon that perfectly complements the other ingredients in your cocktail, resulting in a well-balanced and delicious drink.

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