Perfect Manhattan Cocktail

Perfect Manhattan Cocktail with Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey

The Spruce

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
160 Calories
0g Fat
7g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 160
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 47mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The perfect Manhattan is indeed a great cocktail, though the name doesn't refer to its perfection. Instead, it adds dry vermouth to the classic Manhattan's trio of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. It makes a delightful dinner drink, whether you enjoy it before, during, or after the meal.

Just like the perfect martini, adding the word "perfect" to the Manhattan means you'll pour sweet and dry vermouth in equal proportions. While there are small things that make it better, the perfect Manhattan is not difficult to make. All you need is a great whiskey, a bottle of each type of vermouth, and a dash of bitters. Stir it all up, strain, and you're done. Use this recipe to show off your favorite bourbon, and try it with other styles of whiskey, too.


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"Regular Manhattans often lack depth and complexity—the dry vermouth gently adds both of these. The combination of sweet and dry vermouths, with the backbone of bourbon, makes for quite a silky mouth feel. If you can swing mixing in an 8-year-old bourbon, you will have a historically good cocktail." —Sean Johnson

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Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Perfect Manhattan Cocktail With Knob Creek Bourbon
     The Spruce
  2. In a cocktail shaker or mixing glass filled with ice, pour 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 for at least 30 seconds.

    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. Serve and enjoy.

    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 is a great choice because it cuts through the vermouth. Bourbons distilled with a portion of wheat will create a softer cocktail, while a rye-rich bourbon will give it a spicier foundation.
  • Almost any brand of vermouth will make a great cocktail. 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.
  • Keep in mind that vermouth has a much shorter shelf life than liquor. Refrigerate it after opening, mark it with the date, and use it within three months.

Recipe Variations

  • Serve the perfect Manhattan on the rocks. The ice will dilute the drink slightly and mellow out the flavor and alcohol.
  • Like the original Manhattan, this cocktail works very well with rye whiskey and Canadian whisky.
  • Switching to scotch creates a perfect Rob Roy.
  • Though just an accent, play around with other flavors of bitters. Orange and barrel-aged are excellent alternatives, and some interesting Manhattans are made with cherry, plum, and walnut bitters.
  • Garnish with an orange twist in place of the maraschino cherry.

How Strong Is the Perfect Manhattan?

All Manhattan cocktails are strong drinks because they're made entirely of alcohol. If you choose a high-proof whiskey, this drink's alcohol content will 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.

Should a Manhattan Be Shaken or Stirred?

The general rule is that liquor-only cocktails should be stirred rather than shaken. This applies to all Manhattans and martinis. However, rules are meant to be broken to fit your personal taste. Shaking a perfect Manhattan adds dilution and air to the cocktail, and some drinkers prefer the softer taste.

What Is the Best Cherry for a Manhattan?

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.