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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 amazon.com, 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.

                    www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                    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.

                        www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                      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.

                      1. Can you get Cinzano? I live in Canada, where the selection is dismal (ie: sweet selection is limited to Martini, Stock, and Cinzano), and it's usually easy to find and a good place to start. In my experience, it's a good red vermouth to start with, as well - still flavourful, but easier to mix than the Carpano. I'm also not a big fan of the vanilla notes in the Carpano for the Manhattan, regardless of the ratio.

                        I really like Rittenhouse in Manhattans.

                        Depending on my mood, I also like them with orange bitters instead of Angostura. Depending on your source, this is usually called a Virgin or something else, but I usually just stick with "Manhattan with orange bitters".

                        I still need to try a few of the drinks in this Wondrich article:


                        1. I prefer my manhattans thusly:

                          2 oz. Old Overholt Rye
                          1 oz. Dolin sweet vermouth
                          3-4 dashes angostura bitters.

                          The Dolin is key. I also like these proportions with Bulleit bourbon, but prefer a rye.

                          1. I'd say you're off to a pretty credible start. I agree with the poster who suggested you try a "perfect" Manhattan (1/2 sweet and 1/2 dry vermouth). Garnish that with a lemon twist and not a cherry & see what you think. And I wholly endorse using rye. I've not tried Templeton. Bulleit rye is good and Michters is better, IMO.--cheers

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Poindexter

                              I really, really, really enjoy Templeton Rye ....

                            2. Oh and one other thing as long as we are disecting Manhattans. If you find yourself or your guests being a bit overwhelmed by agressive flavors or alcohol, you can serve them on the rocks. Some will start quoting ancient cocktail books and people like David Wondrich or H.L. Mencken or William Grimes and call me a witch, but I sometimes like some ice. So there. And for fear of a thread drift, yes it totally makes a difference what ice you are using. If you care (I do, but honestly, only in a professional capacity for the most part--okay I have a Polar Ice Maker at home...but it's been in the clost for a couple months..I just use my cube trays from Tovolo at home. But I digress) there are plenty of googlable articles on how your ice at home sucks if you care to take a peek around the interwebs. Otherwise, just clink a few (or many) cubes in a glass and have your Manhattan on the rocks. Just like I am doing right now. :)

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: ellaystingray

                                I agree. I made a riff last night: 2 oz rye, 1 oz Carpano Antica, 1 oz Sutton Cellars Brown Label, and 1/2 oz 78 proof-ized Amer Boudreau with a StriperGuy cherry. The first few sips were not very promising, but a few minutes later it settled into an okay drink.

                                I find that my home ice, while homely, is very cold (-10*F), completely dry, hard, and made of filtered water. That puts it better than most bar ice. I'd rather have a drink made with my home ice than beautiful clear Kold Draft cubes from a 32*F bin. That said, I try to only shake / stir with icemaker ice. I freeze my thick-bottom rocks glasses and using a single Tivolo King Cube because it looks so nice. This allows us to linger over a drink without it getting too watery.

                                I rarely serve a cocktail up anymore, given that I can serve a cocktail that dilutes very slowly and stays cold for a long time. No more rushing to drink the cocktail before it warms up.

                                www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                1. re: EvergreenDan


                                  1. What in the world sort of atomic freezer/ice-maker do you have, at home!

                                  2. Which rye did you use?

                                  3. I am impressed that Sutton Cellars vermouth makes it all the way to East Coast...or did you sniff that out on your own? Did you buy a keg full? If your ice is -10*F it isn't that improbable you have your own glycol cooled draft system in the living room. ;)

                                  4. I assume you made your own Boudreau, how is it on its own?

                                  5. I firmly believe the Tivolo company deserves a medal of some sort. Or at least a piece of paper noting--in calligraphy--their contribution to society and general awesomeness.

                                  6. Lastly, have you tried any mutant versions of the Manhattan werein you use not only rye but also bourbon ala Dale Degroff's Sazerac riff where he uses both rye and cognac?

                                  1. re: ellaystingray

                                    Gulp. Dipping quill into inkwell...

                                    1. I have a Thermodor built-in with a freezer appliance separate from the refrigerator. This allows me to set the freezer temp truly independently from the refrigerator. I believe SubZeros have two compressors too.

                                    2. I'm rapidly going through a bottle of Redemption rye. I like it. It's mild compared to some, but stands up to mixing. Wild Turkey might actually be better for mixing. Bulleit is nice for sipping, but is a touch mild in cocktails, IMO.

                                    3. Sutton Cellars is a sponsor of Kindred Cocktails. I found it pretty easily in Boston. It is an interesting vermouth. I like it on its own, and it stand up in aperitifs. It can take over a cocktail which was formulated for a more Clark Kent vermouth.

                                    4. I just made my first batch of Amer Boudreau. I infused for about 4 weeks, without daily agitation (except my own). I used 50:50 sweet and bitter orange. I diluted with vodka rather than mineral water to arrive at close to the original 78 proof. It is really severe on its own. I can easily sip Amer Picon Biere, but no way my home hootch. I think it needs to be used in very small amounts.

                                    6. I haven't mixed rye and bourbon. I don't mind a bourbon Manhattan, if the bitter holds it up. I also like Bulleit rye and bourbon, and I have a bottle of the Redemption High Rye Bourbon. I had a bottle of Finger Lakes Distilling Bourbon, which was more rye-forward than any rye I know other than the Finger Lakes Rye. It took me a while to get to like it, but I did. Now I can't get another bottle until I return to New York next year.

                                    A Manhattan with rye and cognac. Interesting. I need to get another bottle of cognac; my Spanish Brandy wouldn't be up to it.

                                    I love Manhattans. All of them. Even the ones that aren't.

                                    www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                                      Thanks for the info and if you need a reason to defend the depletions to your inkwell, I'l buy you a good drink next time you are in L.A.. It can be done, believe it or not. :)

                                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                                        After making a corn n'oil the other night with the bottle of John Taylor's Falernum I recently acquired, I tried a few variants using about 1 1/2 oz of different liquors : 1/2 oz Falernum : 1/4 oz lime juice.

                                        I found the ones with Bourbon and Ritt 100 rye were very good. A spiced rum also worked well, I am not sure which one I used but I think it was old Monk.

                                        1. re: ncyankee101

                                          Minor point: Old Monk isn't actually spiced, although it is very flavorful. I don't have them side-by-side, but it seems similar to the Cruzan Blackstrap. Maybe the recipe has come full circle ;)

                                          I bet cachaca would be good with your falernum treatment. Or maybe tequila + a little mezcal?

                                          www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                                            I never actually looked closely at the label, but was going by what Capn Jimbo says here - he says he is 80% confident he saw a comment about spices at one time on their website, though it is no longer there.


                                            I did try it with tequila, it was OK but not as good as the others. I have recently come into possession of 5 different mezcals so might give that a try. Just not with the Los Danzantes repo. Maybe Sombra.