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A classic whisky cocktail, from 'Spirited' by Adrienne Stillman

A pre-Prohibition classic, the Manhattan inspires countless riffs, yet the simplicity of the original remains a show stealer. First published in 1882 in Harry Johnson’s Bartenders Manual, its origins are murky. One apocryphal story says it was created for Lady Randolph Churchill (mother of Winston) at the Manhattan Club in 1874. It became popular as one of the first drinks to use sweet vermouth—a new ingredient at the time. Originally made with rye, bourbon is common today.

A higher-proof whiskey is recommended for best results. If using a more robust sweet vermouth, such as Punt e Mas, increase the amount of whiskey by about 1/4 oz (7 ml).



  • For a Dry Manhattan, use dry vermouth and orange bitters. Garnish with a lemon twist.

  • For a Perfect Manhattan, use 1/2–3/4 oz (15–22 ml) each of sweet and dry vermouth. Garnish with a lemon twist.

  • Make it New Orleans style with 1 1/2 oz (45 ml) each of whiskey and sweet vermouth, and one dash each of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters.

A recipe from Spirited: Cocktails From Around The World by Adrienne Stillman (Phaidon). Buy the book here.



2 oz (60 ml) rye or bourbon
1 oz (30 ml) sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Brandied cherry, to garnish
  1. Method

    Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice and stir for 25–30 seconds, or until chilled. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with a brandied cherry

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