The Black Manhattan Is Our 2021 Thanksgiving Cocktail, Here’s The Recipe

It’s Thanksgiving and it’s pretty likely you’re going to need a cocktail before the long weekend is over. Maybe more than one. Our pick this year — our official Thanksgiving cocktail, no less — is a modern classic, the Black Manhattan.

The beauty of this cocktail is the rush of botanicals that mix with a good and herbal rye whiskey. The herbal notes, sweetness, and bitter spices all pair wonderfully with a big holiday meal. Another great aspect is that — and this is true of all Manhattans — you can easily batch this cocktail. Just times each ingredient by, say, six and you’ll have enough for everyone around the table to enjoy.

Okay, we all know we want to get to the good stuff, so let’s get mixing!

Black Manhattan

Black Manhattan
Zach Johnston

Served in Coupe and serves 1


  • 2-oz. rye whiskey
  • 0.75-oz. Averna Amaro
  • 0.75-oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash Orange Bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Luxardo cherry
  • Orange peel
  • Ice

Yes, I’m using Michter’s 10-year Single Barrel Rye. There’s a tradition in my house of making $50 Manhattans on Thanksgiving with this rye because it’s delicious. It’s also more herbal and botanical than “spicy,” which makes it a great base spirit for both sweet vermouth and Averna Amaro (both of which are botanical in different ways — one sweet and one woody and bitter). Knob Creek Rye is a solid option if you’re looking for something a lot more affordable (especially if you’re making batches).

As for the vermouth, I’m using Carpano Antica. The rest — bitters and cherries — you’ can easily source at any liquor store or delivery service.

Black Manhattan
Zach Johnston

What You’ll Need:

  • Cocktail glass/jug
  • Cocktail strainer
  • Barspoon
  • Jigger
  • Fruit peeler
Black Manhattan
Zach Johnston


  • Prechill your glass in the freezer.
  • Add the bitters, Averna, vermouth, and rye to a mixing jug and then add ice and stir until the jug is ice cold to touch.
  • Remove the glass from the freezer and strain the cocktail into the glass.
  • Express the orange oils from the peel over the cocktail and rub the peel around the rim of the glass and stem.
  • Drop a Luxardo cherry in the cocktail and serve.

Bottom Line:

Black Manhattan
Zach Johnston

I can’t overstate this: The better alcohol you use in your cocktails, the better they will taste. Michter’s 10 Rye is a phenomenal whiskey and makes a stellar cocktail. This is so nuanced, sweet, herbal, bitter, soft, citrusy … I could go on and on.

I tested this on a bartender friend today and their reaction was, “Oh! That’s amazing.” Trust me, this drink rules. And again, if you want to batch it, just multiply the main ingredients by the number of people you want to serve. So let’s say you want to make six at a time, then 2-oz. of rye, 0.75-oz. of Averna, and 0.75-oz. of sweet vermouth becomes 12-oz. rye, 4.5-oz. Averna, and 4.5-oz. sweet vermouth. I’d keep the Orange bitters at six dashes, but I’d dial back the Angostura Bitters to maybe nine dashes instead of 12 as the Averna is already doing a lot of that spicy botanical work while adding a bitter edge. Just taste as you go and you’ll be fine.