Perfect Manhattan Cocktail

Perfect Manhattan Cocktail with Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey

The Spruce

  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 cocktail (1 serving)

The perfect Manhattan is indeed a great cocktail, though the name doesn't refer to its perfection. Instead, just like the perfect martini, it uses both styles of vermouth in equal proportions. This recipe creates a fantastic variation on the whiskey Manhattan and is a great way to show off your favorite bourbon.

Like other cocktails in the martini family, the perfect Manhattan is not difficult to make. All you need is a great whiskey, a bottle each of sweet and dry vermouth, and a dash of bitters. Stir it all up, strain, and you're done! It makes a delightful dinner drink, whether you enjoy it before, during, or after the meal.


  • 2 ounces whiskey (bourbon)
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1 to 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • Garnish: maraschino cherry

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Perfect Manhattan Cocktail With Knob Creek Bourbon
     The Spruce
  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the whiskey, sweet vermouth, and dry vermouth, and add a couple dashes of bitters.

    Perfect Manhattan Cocktail With Knob Creek Bourbon
     The Spruce
  3. Stir well.

    Perfect Manhattan Cocktail With Knob Creek Bourbon
     The Spruce
  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

    Perfect Manhattan Cocktail With Knob Creek Bourbon
     The Spruce
  5. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

    Perfect Manhattan Cocktail With Knob Creek Bourbon
     The Spruce
  6. Serve and enjoy!

  7. Perfect Manhattan Cocktail With Knob Creek Bourbon
    The Spruce 


  • Your choice in bourbon will lay the foundation for this drink's overall taste. A robust, high-proof whiskey like Knob Creek is a great choice because it cuts through the vermouth. For a softer cocktail, choose something like Maker's Mark. A rye-rich bourbon like Bulleit will give it a spicier foundation.
  • Almost any brand of vermouth will make a great cocktail. Vya and Noilly Prat are favorites, but your taste may differ; some drinkers prefer dry vermouth from one brand and sweet vermouth from another. The nice thing is that most vermouth is relatively inexpensive, so you can shop around to find your ideal combo.
  • Do keep in mind that vermouth has a much shorter shelf life than liquor. Refrigerate it after opening, mark it with the date and toss it if it's been around for longer than three months.
  • Angostura is one of the best-known aromatic bitters and a bottle will not let you down. It is good to play around with bitters as they do impact the drink. For instance, Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters and Bittercube's Cherry Bark Vanilla add a nice touch to the drink.
  • Rather than the neon-red maraschino cherries that are so familiar, look for natural maraschino cherries that are not dyed and artificially sweetened. Luxardo and other companies offer jarred maraschinos that are just as convenient or you can make your own maraschinos.

How Strong Is the Perfect Manhattan?

Cocktails like the perfect Manhattan are not weak drinks. After all, it's solely alcohol and the only thing that knocks the strength down is dilution from the ice. If you choose a high-proof whiskey, you can expect this drink's alcohol content to fall in the 39 percent ABV (78 proof) range. With an 80-proof whiskey, it's still a hefty 33 percent ABV (66 proof). It's a good one-off drink before switching to something lighter.