The classic Manhattan is a combination of American Whisky (traditionally Rye), Vermouth and Aromatic Bitters. Although you can make a Dry Manhattan using Dry Vermouth, and even a perfect Manhattan, using a mixture of both sweet and dry. The modern default version of the drink (and we’d also say best) is the Sweet Manhattan using, you guessed it, Sweet Vermouth.
As with any recipe that uses just a small number of ingredients, their quality is vital for making a great drink. However, it’s not only about the quality of your ingredients, it’s also about their character, flavour profiles, how they combine together, and what best suits YOUR palate. A spicy Rye whisky or sweeter softer Bourbon? A slightly drier and herbaceous sweet vermouth or a sweeter, richer version with strong notes of vanilla? The choices are yours.
All of the ingredients we recommend here are perfect for making a Manhattan and are of high quality.
Happy mixing & happy experimenting!
A huge category of whisky that’s made across a vast swathe of land spanning Canada and the US. It includes the most famous American Whisky categories of Bourbon, Rye and Tennessee, all with their own sets of specific production rules.
As with whisky anywhere, they are made from grain that’s fermented, distilled and aged. There are no smoky styles like you find in Scotch, and the use of Rye and Maize (corn) dominate along with wheat.
The combination of grains used to produce a whisky (mash bill) will have a huge impact on the final character of the whisky. Higher Rye content versions produce more spicy styles, while brands that use a lot of Maize will be sweeter in style. Of course, those labeled as Rye Whisky will (should!) use higher amounts of Rye grain while Bourbons have to be at least 51% Maize. Wheat produces a very smooth and soft character that usually compliments other grains rather than being the star.
Our selection here is hugely varied and there’s something for everyone. They’re all incredibly versatile too, and can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks as well as stirred or shaken into cocktails.
A sweetened ‘fortified wine’ with a dark brown / reddish colour depending on the brand. A ‘fortified wine’ is one that has distilled alcohol added to help preserve it, and Vermouths also have herbs and botanicals steeped into them. The name Vermouth comes from the German word ‘vermut’ meaning wormwood, an essential ingredient in a vermouth’s recipe of herbs and botanicals (except in the US).
Aromatic Bitters are the classic choice for a Manhattan. They are highly complex, incorporating spices and bittering agents such as clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, gentian and quinine, along with many others. This creates a ‘symphony’ of flavours, unlike for example, an orange, lemon or chocolate bitters, which although incorporate other ingredients, are focused around one key flavour, or ‘soloist’.
Aromatic Bitters add complexity, bitterness to a drink and help to bind the flavours of a cocktail together. Creating a truly unified flavour profile on the palate. You only need a dash or two, but their influence is mighty!
The OG of Aromatic Bitters are Angostura Bitters. There are others to choose from today, but there’s still nothing wrong with good ol Ango. If you do want to try an alternative, we’d recommend Bitter Truth’s aromatic offering.
You can also add a further twist on your Manhattan by using citrus or chocolate flabvoured bitters if you want to experiment.