Reversed Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

Posted on Jun 30, 2016

Reversed Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

This week, we’ve been drinking our way through a (too straightforward to be entirely accurate, it must be said) evolution of the cocktail. We started with the very first mixed drinks, done in the old fashioned style, mixing one spirit, some sugar, and something else (bitters, fruit, or herbs) in a short glass. Then, the invention of carbonation provided a new way to add some pop (literally and figuratively) to what had become a somewhat stale old fashioned formula, and the highball was born.

Today, we entire the realm of ‘fancy drinks,’ mixed drinks involving the mixing of more than one alcoholic ingredient. This development was a game changer, opening up all sorts of new possibilities. We mentioned earlier in the week that old fashioned drinks and highballs offer more opportunities for variety and experimentation than you might think; still there’s a limit when you’re working with a relatively small number of factors. Fancy drinks–what we now think of as cocktails–multiplies the variables, making the number of possible mixed drinks practically infinite.

There are downsides to unlimited options. They allow for the creation of very many good drinks, and even more bad ones. That’s why we’re such fans of using tried and true recipes as a jumping off point. There are still many different avenues for experimentation: change the base spirit; substitute another¬†ingredient with a different ingredient from the same family; add an ingredient; turn a drink served straight up into a highball; tweak the proportions. The key is to make just one change at a time.

One of our favorite tweaks is adjusting proportions. It’s like adding a bass/treble mix knob to your cocktail. How much of that alcohol bite do you want? How sweet or herbal or citrus do you want it to be? You’re playing with the same elements, but adjusting the levels. This works especially well with drinks involving vermouth (as so many great drinks do). Vermouth has less than half the alcohol of a spirit, but at least as much if not more flavor complexity. So, if you want to make your drink lighter by alcohol volume, but without that watered down taste that a light beer has, reversing the normal proportions of spirit and vermouth is a great trick.

Reversed Manhattan Cocktail Recipe


  • 2 oz sweet vermouth (we like Dolin)
  • .5 oz rye whiskey
  • dash of aromatic bitters (try a local, craft one like Embitterment; if not available, Angostura)
  • maraschino cherry, for garnish (a real Luxardo one or the like; this is a cocktail, not an ice cream sundae)


  • Combine vermouth, rye, and bitters in the bottom of a mixing glass.
  • Add ice, and stir until the ice is half-melted.
  • Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with the cherry.

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