The Perfect Manhattan is one of those drinks that (good) bartenders know about and like to tinker with but hasn’t quite hit the mainstream yet (or again, really). Like a lot of classic cocktails, this one has been around for centuries. The mix is a tad lighter than the heavy winter vibes of a classic Manhattan thanks to the “perfect” balance of both dry and sweet vermouth.
That addition of dry vermouth really helps this cocktail pop while still holding onto the deeper and darker flavors from the rye whiskey and botanical/floral sweet vermouth. The addition of a little orange oil and dark cherry bring that extra layer of late-fall feels. All together, you’ll have a great, deep but light, and fresh cocktail in your hand for easy sipping.
This is also a very easily batch-able cocktail (like all Manhattan variations). Simply change the ounces to cups and times the dashes of bitter by four. That’ll give you a four-pour batch of Perfect Manhattans for your next party. You can calculate up from there so let’s get stirring!
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- 2 oz. rye whiskey
- 0.5 oz. dry vermouth
- 0.5 oz. sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
- Orange peel
- Cherry garnish
Always use quality ingredients to make quality cocktails at home. I’m using Michter’s US *1 Barrel Strength Rye, which is admittedly expensive. But goddamn does this whiskey make a killer Manhattan.
I also like to pair the vermouths within a single brand just to add a layer of continuity. It’s not that you can’t use Italian sweet vermouth and Spanish dry vermouth but they never quite cohere as well in my professional opinion. In this case, I’m going with Noilly Prat for both.
What You’ll Need:
- Cocktail glass, Nick and Nora, coupe, or lowball
- Cocktail jar/mixing jug
- Cocktail strainer
- Prechill the glass in the freezer.
- Add the rye, vermouths, and bitters to a mixing glass. Add a large handful of ice and use the barspoon to stir the cocktail until the glass is ice-cold to touch (about 20 to 30 seconds).
- Retrieve the glass from the freezer and strain the cocktail into the glass. Express the oils from the orange peel over the cocktail and rub the peel around the rim and bowl of the glass, discard.
- Spear a cherry and drop it into the glass. Serve.
Yup, it’s refreshing, deeply flavored, and light enough to beg for just one more. The rye truly shines through with a hint of dark rye bread crust with a hint of fennel and spearmint next to woody spices, fresh citrus notes, and a hint of toffee sweetness. The vermouth adds a teeter-totter between dry-and-light and deep-and-florally sweet.
Overall, this is a great cocktail to have in your arsenal as Halloween parties start popping off this weekend. It’s devilishly easy to make, has a nice nuance to an already-know classic, and it tastes really f*cking good.