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Nov 1, 2011 12:07 PM

Manhattan Cocktail Advice

Although I have imbibed others in the past, but I made my first manhattan cocktails for a small dinner party last Friday. I used two parts Templeton Rye, one part sweet vermouth [unfortunately all I had on-hand is a cheapo called Tribuno], and two dashes of Angostura Bitters [but I did not garnish with a cherry]. It turned out pretty good all in all. So, any additional advise on the proportions, etc.?

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  1. i would tinker around with the amount of vermouth until you get the manhattan that makes you happiest. I myself use 3 parts whiskey to 1 part vermouth and a little extra bitters.

    2 Replies
      1. re: hawkeyeui93

        I like the spicy note of Angostura so I use about 3 or 4, depending on mood. Again, it's all about what you like. 2 seems traditional.

    1. I would switch to a good sweet vermouth like Vya. For $14 + shipping (the price of 1 or 2 drinks in a bar) you can get a 12 oz bottle on, good for maybe 12 drinks, depending what ratio you use.

      18 Replies
      1. re: barleywino

        I wish I could have liquor shipped, but unfortunately I live in a liquor control state that prohibits it. I will have to look for it when I am out of town ....

        1. re: hawkeyeui93

          Iowa is not on the list of restricted states on the website for drinkupNY, the only 4 states they list are NV, WV, TX, and MA.

            1. re: EvergreenDan

              Not anymore, as of Nov 1 - unless you happen to live in a neighboring state.

            2. re: ncyankee101

              I need to check it out .... It would be a great help. Thanks!

              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                Merwins also seems to ship pretty much anywhere- their policy is that you assume the burden for knowing that it is legal to ship to your state, have acquired necessary permits, etc. (Oddly enough they will not ship tobacco or beer outside MN.)


          1. re: barleywino

            I would also suggest Carpano Antica another great vermouth to use.

            1. re: rlee21

              +1 on Carpano, although it is not cheap. It really gives cocktails a nice flavor.

              1. re: ChristinaMason

                It is not available where I live, but I hope to find it on a trip I have planned out-of-state this week ...

              2. re: rlee21

                I am a big fan of Carpano Antica Formula. However, it should be noted that using this usually requires a bit of tweaking on the "bitters" front. I love me my bitters too, so I still add two dashes even when using Carpano, but for some, the Carpano on its own provides enough of those characteristics.

                1. re: rlee21

                  Love Carpano. But Vya is also pretty good. I keep ours in the wine fridge (at around 57 F), and it seems to do Ok that way for a period of months.

                  Main advice is, get a good, heavy mixing glass and a barspoon that's comfortable to your hand. I love the stuff from Cocktail Kingdom. Really excellent quality stuff that's worth the extra money.

                  Pre-chilling the mixing glass will give a colder drink, but you may need to mix longer, or crack one or two of the pieces of ice with a barspoon, if you want to achieve the optimal dilution.

                  Some of the pre-made cocktail cherries are Ok, but making your own brandied cherries will really improve your Manhattans.

                  1. re: will47

                    Carpano Antica Formula is sort of a bull in the china shop. It has strong vanilla notes, which can be a bit disconcerting. I still love it, but I've started to agree (a tiny bit) with StriperGuy who feels that it is best drunk on its own. It is very, very, VERY good with some lemon in a wine glass.

                    I also like Carpano Punt e Mes, but it is much more bitter than regular Sweet Vermouth. With both of these, you might dial back the vermouth in a Manhattan, and use a lower proof bourbon or a longer stir.

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                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                      <Carpano Antica Formula is sort of a bull in the china shop. It has strong vanilla notes, which can be a bit disconcerting.>

                      I know what you mean; I prefer it with a spicy rye for an optimal manhattan.

                      <It is very, very, VERY good with some lemon in a wine glass.>
                      Lemon juice or peel? Rocks or neat?

                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                        CAF is pretty darn sweet. I use a wedge of lemon squeezed and dropped into the glass. I keep my CAF in the refrigerator, so I don't chill it further, but otherwise you'd either want to stir it and strain it into a wine glass or drink it on the rocks. I usually just use my typical rocks glass, rather than a wine glass because, well, I like drinking out of them more.

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                      2. re: EvergreenDan

                        Carpano Antica has vanilla notes, Vya has cinnamon notes... How about a 50/50 mix to get the best of both worlds? Could be nice..!

                        Punt e Mes is awesome but I think it's best used in a Negroni. The bitterness is, for me, slightly offputting in a Manhattan.

                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                          "The bitterness is, for me, slightly offputting in a Manhattan."

                          E tu prote?

                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                            Google Translate tells me that "E to prote?" means "And you protect?" ... so I have no clue what you're talking about ... perhaps I need to drink a few Punt e Mes Manhattans first :-)

                2. 2:1 is a good place to start. The proportion depends on what whisky you use. Something gentle like Maker's Mark may do well with 3 or even 4 to 1, while some of the more aggressive spirits, like Wild Turkey, may do well with equal parts.

                  1. I haven't used the Templeton rye, but it is really important to slightly adjust the proportions (and dilution) to your taste and to the strength of the alcohol. I usually do more or less 2:1 for Manhattans. Depending on how cold the mixing glass is, and how dry your ice, I would probably stir for at least 25 seconds, and sometimes more. A Manhattan is a fairly spirit-heavy drink, obviously, but I like it when it's smooth vs. knock-you-out strong.

                    I like the Evolution "Boker's Bitters" re-creation pretty well, but also use Angostura or Bitter Truth's "Jerry Thomas" bitters sometimes.

                    1. Heck if you want to experiment and like Manhattans I'd experiment with sweet (sweet vermouth) /dry (dry vermouth) /perfect (50/50 dry/sweet vermouth) Manhattans. It helps better understand what you like I think as well.