This drink is one of my all-time favorite drinks, and I think for most bartenders it is one o
f their first loves as well. It’s a drink that is so balanced and boozy, but still clean, a blend of rye whiskey, Italian sweet vermouth and bitters.
2.5 oz. rye whiskey
.75 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes angostura bitters
Combine ingredients in mixing glass with ice, stir, and stain into coupe, garnish with a maraschino cherry.
So what’s the story on this drink? Well as you might have guessed no one really knows. The best “story” and one that has been debunked is that the Manhattan Club in New York City was hosting a party, that was to be attended by one Lady Randolph Churchill, however this story is form the early 1880’s and it was believed in that year our lady Churchill was back in England giving birth to one of the most famous people of WW11.
The real story is it was invented by a bartender, named “black”. And like most great drinks, it took off like wildfire and though Mr. Black invented a wonderful drink he has been lost to history.
So there are a lot of different specs you can use on this drink to dial it in for your pallet. I listed the ratio I like the best already but it’s not uncommon for you to see this made a couple different ways
2 oz. rye
1 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes angostura bitters
This version is probably the most common in bar and restaurants that I see, and the main difference on this version to the one that I have listed previously is that this drink will be less “spicy” or less boozy rye forward. So, lowering the rye and increasing the vermouth will give you a softer cocktail
Now there are more things you can do to this drink to change its flavor to make it the best version for your pallet. The next thing I’d recommend you do is to change the spirit type you use. My favorite is rye whiskey, and it’s said to be the most authentic to the drink as whole, but any recipe you find on this drink the whiskey part is labeled as “whiskey” so you change it up and see what happens.
If you use bourbon, you’ll get a drink that is sweeter than the rye.
If you use scotch, (recommend a blended one) you’ll wind up with a drink called the Rob Roy, and taste more robust than the rye.
If you use Canadian whiskey, you’ll find a drink that is even sweeter than the bourbon and is said to be the most popular spirit during prohibition.
If you swop the vermouth for Averna, you’ll get what’s called a Black Manhattan, this drink is best with rye.
If you use equal parts sweet vermouth and dry vermouth, you’ll have a “perfect” Manhattan, and the drink will be crisper and more floral.
With all that being said, I my hope is that you experiment with this drink and find the best version of it for you and your party.