Perfect Manhattan Cocktail

by | Dec 13, 2019 | All, Whiskey/Bourbon

Calling all whiskey lovers, this one is for you! You can never go wrong with a classic especially when it is the Perfect Manhattan Cocktail.

2 manhattan cocktails in low ball glasses garnished with cherries.with

Perfect Manhattan Cocktail

Everyone should know how to serve classic cocktails, even if it isn’t your drink of choice. This Perfect Manhattan Cocktail is a great example. 

Now, I’m not a whiskey drinker myself, but I can make a mean Manhattan, and you should be able to as well. After all, being able to serve things you wouldn’t drink yourself is a secret to being a great hostess. 

No matter how you mix things up, this manhattan is the ideal drink no matter the occasion. Whether you want to impress your friends at your next dinner party, or just want to feel sophisticated on a weeknight at home you’ll want to break out this recipe. It’s easy to make, fantastic to drink, and so much fun to enjoy with friends. 

Single Perfect Manhattan cocktail on a dark background with cherries on a skewer for garnish.

What is a Manhattan Cocktail?

To put it simply, a Manhattan is essentially a whiskey martini. There are several variations on the Manhattan, but Kevin’s personal favorite is this Perfect Manhattan.

Here’s a little history on this classic cocktail. Legend has it that the Manhattan Cocktail was invented in the 1870’s by Dr. Ian Marshall at The Manhattan Club in New York City at a banquet hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill (the mother of Winston Churchill).

The drink became enormously fashionable as a result of that banquet, and, since the cocktail was not named then, people started referring it to as the Manhattan Cocktail because it was first served at The Manhattan Club.

Top down image of classic Manhattan cocktail recipe in 2 old fashioned glasses.

What ingredients do you need to make a Perfect Manhattan cocktail?

Making your own manhattan cocktail is easy as can be. You don’t need to have a full professional bar to make this old school cocktail classic. With just a few simple ingredients you can feel like a sophisticated aristocrat in no time. 

  • Whiskey
  • Vermouth (Dry and Sweet)
  • Cherries + Cherry Juice
  • Bitters

How easy is that?  Only 5 ingredients, all of which we always have in our refrigerator, and you might too! Odds are if you have a basic bar cabinet in your house, you already have all the ingredients on hand, so go make this cocktail now! 

How To Make The Perfect Manhattan

You barely need any time to throw together this perfect manhattan cocktail. No shaker, jigger, or fancy bar tools necessary. Just a few glasses of your choice, a good stir stick and you’re set! 

To make this recipe just place a few ice cubes in a low ball glass and add the first five ingredients. Then Stir and garnish with cherries. 

That’s seriously all you have to do! This cocktail recipe is proof that fun cocktails don’t have to be complicated to make. You don’t have to pay $15 for one out at a bar anymore, because now you can have a dinner and drinks date night from the comfort of your own home for a fraction of the price. 

Low ball old fashioned glass filled with manhattan cocktail and garnished with a skewer of cherries.

What are the different types of Manhattan recipes?

There are several different variations of this classic drink. If you love this classic recipe, then be sure to try out all the different variations to see which one you love the most. 

Here are a few of the different ways you can mix up a Manhattan recipe: 

  • Perfect Manhattans use both sweet and dry vermouth and garnishes with a cherry
  • Dry Manhattans only use dry vermouth and replaces the cherry garnish with a twist.
  • A Rob Roy uses scotch whiskey
  • Brandy Manhattans use brandy instead of whiskey.

What kind of whiskey do you use in a Perfect Manhattan Cocktail recipe?

That’s easy: pick your favorite.  You can use Canadian Whisky, American Whiskey (Bourbon or Rye) or even Scotch.

Kevin is partial to bourbon, particularly Maker’s Mark, Bulleit, or his new favorite Rowan’s Creek Small Batch Bourbon.

However you pour it, you can’t go wrong with a classic.

2 crystal glasses filled with ice, bourbon and a skewer of cherries for garnish on a dark background.

What Is The Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey?

If you’re not familiar with dark liquors it might be a bit confusing stepping into the dark liquor section at the grocery store. There’s Irish whiskey, bourbon whiskey, scotch whiskey but what’s the difference between all of them? Here’s a little break down to hopefully give you a little bit of clarity. 

By definition, whiskey is a spirit distilled from fermented grain mash. What makes each type of whiskey different is the type of grain used. The different grains used include wheat, rye, barley, and corn. Whatever grain is chosen is then aged in wooden barrels. Bourbon whiskey is considered to be a bit different because it is an American whiskey, and it has its own specifications of what makes it bourbon. 

Bourbon must be:

  • Made in the United States.
  • Contain 51% corn.
  • Aged in new oak-charred barrels.
  • Distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at 125 proof.
  • Bottled at no less than 80 proof.
  • Not contain any added flavoring, coloring or other additives.


Pinterest image of single manhattan cocktail in a crystal old fashioned glass with a skewer of cherries for garnish.

More Whiskey Cocktails You’ll Go Crazy For!

If you have the bottle of whiskey then why just let it go to waste! Try out a few more whiskey cocktails that we know you’ll love! Here are a few of our personal favorites. 


Straight on image of perfect Manhattan Cocktail recipe in low ball glass over ice with cherries for garnish. 



Yield: 1

Perfect Manhattan Cocktail

Single Perfect Manhattan cocktail on a dark background with cherries on a skewer for garnish.

A Classic Perfect Manhattan Cocktail is always a hit.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 3 ounces Whiskey (I prefer Bourbon)
  • 1/2 ounce Dry Vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 bar spoonful cherry juice (from Maraschino Cherries)
  • 2 Maraschino Cherries, for garnish


  1. Place ice cubes in a low ball glass and add first five ingredients.
  2. Stir and garnish with cherries.


This is a great to experiment with new brands of bourbon!

Nutrition Information:


1 serving

Serving Size:

4 ounces

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 265Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 13mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 0gSugar: 7gProtein: 0g

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This post was originally published on September 29, 2014.

You can never go wrong with a classic. The Manhattan cocktail is filled with Bourbon, cherry, bitters, and vermouth is always a whiskey lover’s favorite cocktail.

We're the creative juices behind Garnish with Lemon. In the past 8 years, millions of people have sipped & snacked on our recipes. Need easy, delicious party food and drinks for your next shindig? You’ve come to the right place.

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About Lisa

Hi, I’m Lisa! Looking for the party? It’s probably at my house. Nothing brings me more joy than sharing good food with friends and family. That and a seriously good cocktail.


  1. Avatar

    How do you have a perfect Manhattan recipe on a site called garnish with lemon and put cherries in it? Rim the glass with the peel and garnish – always.

    • Avatar

      Love your spin, Ken. Thanks for stopping by, my husband is a Perfect Manhattan with Cherries kind of guy, but I’ll have him try it with lemon sometime!

  2. Avatar

    The last time I asked for a Manhattan, the waitress came back and warned me that this drink was a little strong. “I love it that way,” I replied. So when she ask how the drink was, I replied, “It could not be better”! By the way, I ordered it with Crown Royal. When I ordered another one, I ask if she could have the bar maid make this one, the exact same as the first one. She said “Of course”!
    To my surprise, when she brought the second drink back, she also brought the barmaid back so I could talk to her directly about her exact recipe. Basically, what she told me to do was to always order “the perfect Manhattan”!
    She told me, after I asked, that she did not use bitters, and only a dash of sweet vermouth.
    So, to this day, this is how I order my “Perfect Manhatan”, to this day… Basicily, just 3 ingredients, as opposed to 5 ingredients in the recipe. Your choice of whiskey, a dash of sweet vermouth, and a cherry, or 2. Plus, I usually put a few drops of cherry juice in also!
    And now, it’s time for that “Perfect Manhatan”!

  3. Avatar

    I never SHAKE a Manhattan. It causes the drink to appear cloudy which diminishes from the overall look. It’s especially important not to shake when serving it up in a Martini glass.

  4. Avatar

    I so want to like Manhattans since I love bourbon and whiskey, but the vermouth is always so… vermouthy. I’ll have to try the smaller proportions here of vermouth!

    • Avatar

      This is one of my husband’s favorites!! Hope you like it! Cheers!

  5. Avatar

    Try Southern Comfort as a bourbon/whiskey replacement—-A lot sweeter but very nice as a before dinner cocktail

  6. Avatar

    The way I hear it, the Manhattan got its name from the recipe:
    2 parts whiskey
    1 part vermouth
    2 dashes of bitters…
    212 – the area code of Manhattan!

  7. Avatar

    I make my Manhattan with Woodford Reserve bourbon. With sweet vermouth , bitters, a little cherry juice. I garnish with a half moon slice of orange and cherry,with a the cherry in the middle of the orange and a pick though both orange and cherry. Makes a beautiful presentation.

  8. Avatar

    I’m so happy that I saw this beauty! What a beautiful beverage just made for sipping! I’m a bourbon girl and all of a sudden I’ve just got to have me a Manhattan. Thank you for sharing our Bootleg version!

  9. Avatar

    What a great post, I love a well made Manhatten! And thank you for including my Peach Bourbon Smash as one of the other whiskey cocktails to enjoy. Cheers!

  10. Avatar

    Black Manhattan with Brandy is over the top

    2 parts rye whiskey 1 part Averna (Amaro Siciliano). 2 dashes black bitters
    Teaspoon Black cheery juice and black cherry

    You’ll think you died and went to heaven!

  11. Avatar

    What is the difference between a Manhattan and a Old Fashion

    • Avatar

      Hi Gail, An Old Fashioned usually has whiskey, bitters, and sugar and a Manhattan uses sweet vermouth in place of the sugar. Hope that helps!


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