Originating in its namesake city in the 1870s, the most traditional Manhattan uses rye whiskey, though Bourbon or Canadian whisky are also traditionally used, depending on which time period you locate your traditions. Master this cocktail and you'll be on your way to becoming a great home bartender.
- 2 Ounces Bourbon whiskey
- 1 Ounce sweet vermouth
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 dash orange bitters
- orange rind
- preserved cherry for garnish
Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail
One day on Facebook, I asked the question: What cocktail do you want to see me make for the blog? I got some good answers and the one I chose for this week was the delightful bourbon Manhattan cocktail. When Alex proposed this recipe, I had already posted a whiskey Manhattan and a Southern Comfort Manhattan, so I asked him if he still wanted the bourbon Manhattan.
So here it is! But before I go into the recipe . . .
Barrel-Aged Bourbon Manhattan
This Barrel-Aged Bourbon Manhattan cocktail is a twist on a classic. Featuring aged quality bourbon, maraschino liqueur and dark cherries, this drink will become your all time favorite!
Disclosure: I received the Personalized Whiskey Barrel and Whiskey Ice Balls featured in this post at no cost from UncommonGoods. My full review of this barrel and the ice molds from UncommonGoods also includes a homemade recipe for the best bourbon manhattan in town. The views and opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own.
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Barrel Aged Bourbon Manhattans (Barrel recipe)
This Barrel-Aged Bourbon Manhattan cocktail is a twist on a classic, featuring aged quality bourbon, maraschino liqueur and dark cherries.
- 3 liters bourbon (We used Bulleit)
- 750 ml maraschino liqueur
- 750 ml sweet vermouth
- 2 ounces Angostura bitters (half bottle)
Mix together the ingredients and pour into a 5L barrel. Age for 28 days but no longer than 60 days. Transfer to bottles if necessary. To make a smaller amount, divide the ingredients accordingly. As the barrel get reused the aging process shortens because the barrel will impart the wood flavor more quickly after multiple uses. Once aged, strain the barrel-aged cocktail and pour over ice. Garnish with Luxardo cherries.
If you’d rather enjoy your barrel aged bourbon as is with just a touch of honey, then check out the Barrel Aged Honey Bourbon recipe below. It only needs 14 days in the barrel because it uses premium bourbon already double aged.
Barrel Aged Honey Bourbon
- 4 750ml bottles of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon
- 1 quart of local organic honey
Heat the jar of honey in a pot of water to thin it out. Once thinned, pour into the barrel using a funnel. Next add the bourbon and age it for 14-21 days, no longer. Return the aged bourbon to the bottle to enjoy on occasions.
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- 1 (6 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate
- 1 (12 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate
- 1 (46 fluid ounce) can pineapple juice
- 1 ½ cups white sugar
- 2 cups strong brewed black tea
- 2 cups bourbon whiskey
- 1 (2 liter) bottle lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage
In a large bowl or container, mix together the orange juice concentrate, lemonade concentrate, pineapple juice, sugar, tea, and whiskey. Transfer to shallow bowls or dishes, and freeze overnight.
Remove the frozen mixture from the freezer and let stand for about 10 minutes. Chop with a wire whisk or potato masher to make a slushy consistency. Place scoops of the frozen slush into glasses, and top off with the lemon-lime flavored soda.
- Calories 172
- Carbs 0.8 g (0.3%)
- Sugars 0.3 g
- Protein 0.0 g (0.0%)
- Sodium 1.4 mg (0.1%)
bonded straight rye whiskey, such as Rittenhouse
Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth
Add ingredients to a mixing glass. Fill the glass with ice cubes and stir for about 30 seconds. Strain contents into a chilled cocktail glass.
Optionally, garnish a Manhattan with a cocktail cherry or a swath of orange peel.
Roger is the Cocktail & Liquor Columnist at The Kitchn. He's a widely published writer and photographer whose work has been featured on Serious Eats, PUNCH, and Food & Wine online. He lives in New York City with his wife, Karen.
Bourbon Old Fashioned
When you get right down to it, the Bourbon Old Fashioned is little more than a slug of whiskey, seasoned and sweetened. Yet for all of its suave simplicity, the drink remains as relevant today as it was when it first captured drinkers’ hearts 200 years ago.
If you’re a history buff, you could draw a straight line connecting this drink to the first recorded definition of the cocktail category in general (circa 1806), which called for spirits, sugar, water and bitters. The Old Fashioned hits all those marks, with whiskey, sugar, water and aromatic bitters. You could also skip the history lesson and simply make the drink. Do the latter if you’re already thirsty.
Start by using good bourbon, the rule being that if you wouldn’t sip it by itself it has no place at the helm of a Bourbon Old Fashioned. (There are other whiskey drinks for masking subpar booze—this isn’t one of them.) From there, the cocktail-minded seem to break into two camps: simple syrup or muddled sugar.
While a barspoon of syrup can cut your prep time in half, it robs the drink of some of the weight and texture that provides its deep appeal. If you want to make the drink like they did back in the 19th century, granulated sugar or a sugar cube is the way to go. If you want to make the cocktail with more of a modern twist, opt for simple syrup. (Although what’s the big rush? The Bourbon Old Fashioned isn’t going anywhere.) Just know that simple syrup adds a bit more water to your drink, so you may need to adjust your ice and stirring accordingly.
Once you’ve mastered the Bourbon Old Fashioned, you can also try making the cocktail with rye whiskey, which results in a slightly spicier drink. Or you can use rum, brandy or any number of spirits—after all, the Old Fashioned is more of a template than an exact science. But there’s something about the bourbon-spiked version that drinkers have been coming back to for decades, so why mess with perfection?
- Combine ingredients over ice in a mixing glass.
- Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass neat or on the rocks.
- Garnish with a cherry.
Achieving wild popularity in the 1880s, the Manhattan was among the first cocktails to use Italian Vermouth, appearing even before the Martini did. Like many stories involving whisky, the rest of its history is a bit cloudy. One widely circulated account claims the cocktail was invented at the Manhattan Club, a prestigious organization renowned for its stock of old whisky. The drink is alleged to have first been served at a party thrown there by Winston Churchill's mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, for presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. The hiccup with that, though, is Lady Randolph was likely pregnant and in Europe during the date in question. One thing is clear, the Manhattanite who first concocted this cocktail created a classic with true staying power.
The Manhattan cocktail may be the best know whiskey cocktail. Of course, the aren’t forgetting the Old Fashioned, OK maybe it is a tie. Although it’s origins are in dispute (like most cocktails), the Manhattan cocktail originated in Manhattan (Surprise!) sometime during the 1870’s.
Served up or on the rocks, a basic Manhattan cocktail consists of Bourbon or Rye, purists insist on Rye, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters. Unless asked for it a proper Manhattan is served up in a coupe or cocktail glass and garnished with a maraschino cherry. Personally, I prefer my Manhattan on the rocks with a twist. In most places this hard to achieve. Rock, no problem. Twist is an issue, I mostly get a cherry and sometimes a twist and a cherry, bur rarely a twist (sigh..)
How do you like your Manhattan? Discus…
- 1 ½ oz Bourbon or Rye
- ¾ oz sweet vermouth
- 1–2 dashes angostura bitters
- Maraschino cherry for garnish
Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Dry Manhattan: substitute dry vermouth and an olive garnish
Perfect Manhattan: use half dry vermouth and half sweet vermouth and garnish with a lemon twist
Are bourbon cherries stored in the refrigerator or are they shelf stable?
I have two sets of instructions for making your bourbon-soaked cherries using fresh cherries. The first is for storing in the refrigerator and the second is for water bath canning making the bourbon cherries shelf-stable. If you are lucky enough to pick your own cherries for this recipe, pick a few more pounds and make cherry syrup, easy cherry pie bars, cherry clafoutis and sour cherry pie filling. Cherry season is so short so pick and make!