Get Nerdy With The Manhattan

Written by Seb  /  Edited by Natalia  /  Design by Andy
Vanhall’s Manhattan

This iconic New York cocktail can be adapted to your personal preferences, like other classics such as the Dry Martini or Old Fashioned. From basic choices such as Whisk(e)y or Vermouths, to more creative choices of Bitters, Amaros or even Liqueurs and alternative Fortified Wines.

With all these options in mind, we’re going to give you a few different Manhattans to look at, both in terms of their recipes and also how to make them. 

In this ‘Get Nerdy with the Manhattan’ we will cover the ingredients but we will also talk about stirring, bottling and even batching your own Vermouth blend! 

Let’s Look At The Ingredients

01. American Whisk(e)y

To follow the classic Manhattan by the letter, you should be using a Rye Whisk(e)y, but in these modern days, a Bourbon or other American Whisk(e)y is more than acceptable. There are also some fantastic Canadian Whiskies that you can use too! 

If you’re a Scotch drinker then you’ll want to make a Rob Roy. This is essentially a Manhattan with Scotch not Rye. Traditionally made at a ratio of two parts Scotch, to one part Sweet Vermouth. Stirred with ice and a dash or two of Angostura Bitters, then served up in a cocktail glass with a Cherry.

02. Sweet Vermouth

Happily, there are many to choose from these days and what you decide to use will have a big impact on the final drink.

If you want a solid start then grab a bottle of Dolin Rouge, a favourite of ours, you can also have a look at our Fortified Wines guide for other recommendations.

The other option is to make a blend of your own to get exactly what suits you, using a number of different Vermouths and Fortified Wines…Oooh, interesting, we hear you say?! Well, read on, we have a recipe for you to try. 

Manhattan Cocktail

03. Maraschino Liqueur

This delicious Italian Cherry Liqueur is both sweet and dry at the same time, and is a popular ingredient in many an expert’s favourite Manhattan recipe. 

Is it fully classic, no, but we think it adds a great dimension to a Manhattan, and it’s why we’ve included a little in our version of a Bottled Manhattan.

04. Angostura Bitters

The complex flavours and aromatics of Angostura Bitters, or other aromatic bitters you might prefer, helps to bind a Manhattan into a cohesive recipe on the nose and palate. This bringing together of flavours and aromas, turns the Manhattan into something even greater than just a collection of delicious ingredients. 

When making a batched Manhattan, we recommend leaving the bitters out of the batch and adding them directly to the glass when you come to serve. In our guide to batching cocktails  we give you more information on why.

05. Water

Water is added to a Manhattan to open its flavours and release its aromas. The water is added traditionally through stirring the ingredients with ice. However, if you wish to batch and bottle your Manhattan, then you’ll need to carefully measure and add water directly to the mix in place of stirring. 

The amount of water you need to add will depend on two key elements. Firstly, the ratio of Whisk(e)y to Vermouth and the strength of the Whisk(e)y you are using. 

Both the Candra Bottled Manhattan and the Vanhall Manhattan keep to the typical 2:1 ratio of Whisk(e)y : Vermouth and both were calculated using a Whisk(e)y at 90 proof / 45% ABV. Therefore, if you are looking to create your own recipe, you beed to coinsider these two elements as they will impact how much water you need to add. 

As always, taste to check the balance of your batch and TRUST YOUR PALATE over any measurements or calculations!

Beyond The Ingredients

If you enjoy American Whisk(e)y, you owe it to yourself to find YOUR perfect Manhattan recipe. It’s definitely out there for you, so let’s start that search right now. At its most basic, the Manhattan is a combination of Whisk(e)y, Sweet Vermouth and Bitters. From the ratio of its ingredients to the choice of brands and garnish, the Manhattan is a recipe that’s fully customisable. However, you have to start somewhere, and we are excited to be part of your journey.

Experimenting and writing your own batch recipe 

As you become more familiar with the Manhattan, you may want to customize your recipe further, removing or replacing the Maraschino Liqueur, using different Fortified Wines, changing ratios, etc. When you start experimenting, make individual serves and revert back to the classic technique for making your Manhattan, to chill and dilute by stirring with ice. 

Once you have your new recipe set, you can create a batched version of it with two  simple steps. In a calibrated jug, accurately measure the ingredients before and after stirring, to work out how much water has been added during the stirring process. This difference represents how much water is needed for your perfect serve. You can then record the batching recipe of your own Manhattan for future batching. 

Entertaining made easy rest & chill

Top tip: batched recipes will be even better for having at least a few days, weeks or longer to rest in a bottle before serving. As you may have heard us say before, bottled cocktails are like slow cooked food, they get smoother and more rounded over time. Just Keep chilled, closed and out of sunlight for best results.

Manhattan in a flask

If you’re planning to serve this drink to friends when entertaining, try and plan ahead. 

When it comes to chilling, it depends on how much you’re batching, but a full bottle (700ml or 750ml) will be cold enough to drink if left in the freezer for approximately 1 ½ – 2 hours. Ideally spin the bottle from time to time to move the warmer liquid at the center of the bottle to the outside, to speed up the cooling process. Smaller bottles will chill faster and larger bottles will of course take longer. And yes, the liquid will form ice crystals and partially freeze if you leave too long. If you’re throwing a party, using an ice bath is the best solution for keeping your drinks ice cold for your guests and accessible for serving. 

Manhattan recipes to get you started

01. Candra’s Bottled Manhattan

First off, try our batch recipe, whether you’re an experienced Manhattan drinker or not, we think this is a delicious recipe. It’s also such a treat to have a bottle of Manhattan sitting in your fridge, just ready and waiting for when you fancy a tipple or making you look like a rockstar when you’re entertaining.

We believe this is a great recipe to start you on your Manhattan discovery journey because it’s a fairly typical Manhattan Cocktail recipe – American Whisk(e)y, Sweet Vermouth and Bitters, with the addition of a little Maraschino or dried Cherry Liqueur. 

02. The Black Manhattan

This is a great addition to the Manhattan cannon. The Black Manhattan is a modern twist from 2005 by Todd Smith from San Francisco while working at Bourbon & Branch. Creating this darker, heavier, bittersweet variation. 

To make the Black Manhattan simply replace the Sweet Vermouth of the classic Manhattan recipe for Amaro. If you want to be true to Todd’s original creation, then you should use Averna for the Amaro. However, much like choosing your preferred Vermouth or creating your own blend of Vermouths to make your bespoke Manhattan, we suggest you use what you like to drink.

Finally, if you ask us, the Black Manhattan pairs amazingly with a cold crisp beer on the side. So, next time you’re mixing up a little Black Manhattan, make it a half sized, and pour yourself a small ice-cold beer to sip alongside it.

Black Manhattan

03. Vanhall’s Manhattan

A complex modern twist on the classic Manhattan recipe that’s well worth the extra little bit of effort and likely extension to your booze shelf. 

Flavours such as vanilla, citrus, nuttiness and sweet herbaceousness are brought to the recipe by creating a bespoke vermouth blend that is then used to make the Manhattan. 

The Vanhall Vermouth blend is a mixture of Antica Formula and Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouths with a little dry, nutty, Amontillado Sherry and just a splash of Spanish vanilla and citrus Liqueur, Licor 43.

You can choose whether to keep going with the batching process, or you can simply bottle and store the Vermouth blend ready for you to use when you want to stir down a Manhattan, or any other recipe that calls for Sweet Vermouth for that matter. Negroni anyone?

Option A: Make a Manhattan as usual using the Vanhall Vermouth Blend. Do not add the water included in the recipe, simply stir 1 1/2 oz (45ml) of Vanhall’s Vermouth with 1 1/2 oz (45ml) of American Whisky. Stirring with ice will add the water you need for the recipe to balance. 

Option B: To prepare a batched version of the completed recipe, combine your choice of American Whisky with the Vanhall’s Vermouth Blend. Add the water to this mix, then bottle. Store the bottle somewhere cool and dark then chill down to ice cold before serving. Some time in the freezer or an ice bucket will do the job. When serving, add a dash of Angostura Bitters to a cocktail glass then pour the batched recipe straight into the glass, no stirring required.

Manhattan

For more details and tips on making the most of batching recipes, read here.

As always, don’t forget to show us what you made by tagging us!
@Candra_Drinks  #MakeBetterDrinks  #CandraDrinks

Continue reading

13 Must Have Modifiers for the Discerning Home Bartender

13 Must Have Modifiers for the Discerning Home Bartender, with cocktail recipes and recommended brands for your home bar.

Read More

Tales of the cocktail 2024

Learn more about Tales of the Cocktails awards and Candra’s nominations in two top ten categories in 2024’s awards

Read More

What is Gin made from?

What is Gin made from? Read on to learn more about this age old spirit and the ingredients that go into making Gin.

Read More

How much juice can you squeeze from a lemon?!

Download Our FREE Cocktail Ingredients Guide

Get Nerdy With Our Latest & Greatest Recipes, Stories & Tips