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Manhattan Drink Recipe


posted: 12/19/19

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

A Manhattan is a classic cocktail that every whiskey lover needs to know how to make. This Manhattan drink recipe is only three ingredients – perfect for the at home bar tender!

two long champagne coupe glasses filled with a Manhattan drink recipe, garnished with three cherries each, and a gold cocktail shaker in the background

Twelve years ago today, I gave my mom a hug and told her I loved her for the last time. I remember at the time, knowing how sick she was, thinking that she and I hadn’t said that out loud to each other nearly enough.

But maybe there is never enough when you are losing someone you love.

My mom passed away two days later. When I found out, I was nursing my newborn son who was a few hours old. What a gift to be in that special sacred space at the time.

I still can’t think about these two moments without crying.

If you are in the thick of grief this holiday season, or if it has been twelve years (18 years, 35 years, etc.) and you are still easily brought to tears, please know that I get it. This year I did a lot of thinking about grief, and one thing I realized that helped me a lot is this: Grief is the counterpart to great love.

Knowing that doesn’t always help . . . but sometimes it does.

My mom loved a good Manhattan. She wasn’t much of a drinker, but I still remember my grandfather making them for her. I still remember finding a half drank Manhattan in our freezer. (She wasn’t one to waste either.)

She likely would roll her eyes at these deep words of love for her in a post about a Manhattan drink, but she’s also not here to stop me, so there’s that.

Laughing is also good medicine for the grieving.

two bottles of knob creek (one rye, one bourbon) to make a Manhattan

Ingredients for a Manhattan Drink

This classic whiskey cocktail is made with just three simple ingredients and then garnished with cherries.

  • Start with either Bourbon or Rye Whiskey. The classic version uses rye.
  • Next you need Vermouth. It is said that this is the first cocktail ever created to use Vermouth, even before the martini. Typically Sweet Vermouth is used, but you can also make a Manhattan with Dry Vermouth.
  • Finally you need bitters. Bitters is an alcoholic spirit that has been infused with botanicals like herbs, roots, and fruit. (Don’t tell anyone that my grandpa made me Shirley Temples with Bitters in it while he mixed Manhattans for him and my mom.)
a Manhattan cocktail being strained into a champagne coupe glass

How to Make a Manhattan Cocktail

The classic Manhattan combines Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, and bitters with ice in a cocktail shaker.

It is then stirred and strained into a glass and garnished with cherries.

What Glass to Serve a Manhattan in

Traditionally, a Manhattan is served in a coupe glass, usually shorter than the ones you see here.

These are champagne coupes that I got at IKEA. I used them because I’m obsessed with how pretty they are in pictures. (See them in my White Christmas Martini post.)

You can also serve this great cocktail in a low ball glass on the rocks.

overhead of two Manhattan cocktails in coupe glasses, garnished with three cherries on a plastic toothpick

Other Classic Cocktails

If you can’t get enough of classic cocktails, here are a few more that I love.

If you make my Manhattan drink recipe or any of these cocktails, drop me a comment and let me know!

And if you are still navigating grief, you can let me know. I can’t make it better, but I can relate to what you are going through. (Pssst, this Crustless Vegetable Quiche has a lot more of my thoughts on grief.)

close up of a Manhattan in a coupe glass
two long champagne coupe glasses filled with a Manhattan drink recipe, garnished with three cherries each, and a gold cocktail shaker in the background
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Manhattan Drink Recipe

Serves: 1 cocktail
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
A Manhattan is a classic cocktail that every whiskey lover needs to know how to make. This Manhattan drink recipe is only three ingredients – perfect for the at home bar tender!


  • 2 ounces Rye Whiskey
  • 1 ounce Sweet Vermouth chilled
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • 1 cherry for garnish


  • Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Add ice and stir to combine.
  • Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a cherry.
Serving: 1cocktail Calories: 186kcal (9%) Carbohydrates: 5g (2%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
two long champagne coupe glasses filled with a Manhattan drink recipe, garnished with three cherries each, and a gold cocktail shaker in the background

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Manhattan Drink Recipe

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Christine says

    Lisa, I’m sending a virtual hug to you. I love your blog, your recipes, your humor, and your spirit. You have shared so much, and when you speak about grief, I realize how much you feel and understand. This past November marked 13 years since my dad died – it was sudden, accidental, and months after his cancer had been treated, and he was in remission. That event completely derailed me, for over a decade. No one can tell you what you will think and feel, not just days after something happens, but years. It hits me at random times, still. Now, at this point in my life, and after a LOT of changes, I know that’s okay! If the grief hits, ride the wave. It’s okay. Your grief is unique, personal, and whatever form it takes, let it happen. Thank you so much for being a wonderful virtual friend, and if you were here, I’d pour you a drink, and give you a hug. Bless you, girl, and your family!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Oh Christine! I am so incredibly sorry! I cannot even fathom what it would have been like to have my mom be cured of her cancer only to die suddenly some other way. Derailed seems like exactly where I would have been as well. Thank you so much for your kinds words – a treasure today especially.

  2. Sharon Kerr says

    As I write this, I am at my mom and dad’s, my mother is dying from cancer. I know this will be the last Christmas we will have together. She is bed ridden, so we have put a Christmas tree in her room and plan on having Christmas up in the bedroom with her. My dad has been wonderful as he is the main caregiver and doing everything for her. This should be a time of year, that is filled with so much joy, but my heart is breaking inside. I can’t imagine a life without my mom. We have always been so very close. I know though, she is getting tired of fighting. She has a very rare cancer that only 500 people a year are diagnosed with in the USA. Life is not fair. My heart is breaking. The tears never seem to stop. I saw your post and I just had to reach out.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Oh Sharon, I am so incredibly sorry. I know the exact feeling you have right now. I cried myself to sleep every night for the last month of my mom’s life. I literally could not imagine my life without her – especially as a new mom. It was unfathomable to not have her. I will tell you this, I still think of my mom every single day. I still need her – I’m grappling with a hard decision right now and would give anything to run it all past her. But someone pointed out to me recently that she really still is with me. They could tell by the way I’m talking about this decision. I’m referencing her and little snippets of wonderful advice she gave me over the years. It’s not the same at all, but she is with me. I really believe that.

      Finally, it won’t hurt like this forever. It will always hurt, but it won’t be like this. Give your sweet mom a hug for me, mainly because I wish I could give you one.

  3. Chris Wells says

    I think there is always a slight feeling of sadness during the holidays. Sadness for loved ones missing and sadness for what might have been. I love Christine’s comment about riding the wave of sadness in the moment, it’s okay and then let it go. Thanks for the recipe, my mom also loves a good manhattan and she is 96! She is recovering from a hospital stay right now, but maybe for New Years we will ring it in with Manhattans!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you Chris for this sweet comment, I hope you have a great holiday! Much love to your mom!

  4. Marsha says

    A Manhattan on the rocks was my mother’s drink of choice. She came to campus when I was at Indiana University and introduced me to it. She has been gone since 2004, fifteen years this month, and I enjoy them “with” her on special occasions. Hugs to you and all who share this sorrow and the sweet memories.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you so much for sharing about your mom, Marsha. I’ll have to share one with my mom on Christmas Eve. I love that idea.

  5. ROSE BRILL says

    My father used to make these, but we never had bitters. And he never measured anything, so consequently I got very sleepy by the time the pasta came out…
    But on a serious note, I am very sorry about your Mom. It gets a little easier each year, but the emptiness will always be felt. I lost my daughter 7 years ago and know the loss. Be thankful for all the times and memories you made. We still laugh and cry over some the silliness, and that’s a good thing.
    Merry Christmas to you and thanks for all the great recipes.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Oh Rose, I love this so. much! I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. I lost my son 9 years ago. It feels like yesterday and a million years ago at the same time. Thank you for your kind words. Merry Christmas to your whole family!

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