Classics Week: The Manhattan

Classics Week: The Manhattan

Classics Week: The Manhattan



James Bond may be drinking Heineken from the bottle nowadays, and maybe he doesn’t look like he cares whether his martini is shaken or stirred. But during the long, dark period in which cocktails were on the outs with American drinkers, James Bond stood as a lone symbol of the class and sophistication of a well-ordered drink. In honor of this long dedication to a decent cocktail, and in celebration of the upcoming premier of the latest James Bond movie, we’ll take a weeklong tour of the classics, ending with Mr. Bond’s own signature cocktail on Friday.

Today we start with one of the most classic classic cocktails, the Manhattan


The Manhattan


  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • .5 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash bitters
  • Luxardo cherry


  • Don’t use those cheap, bright red maraschino cherries. Proper Luxardo cherries are much more expensive, but worth the price. Almost as good and half the price are Filthy Cherries.
  • With the classic cocktails, you’d think there would be a standardized recipe; but actually it’s the opposite. These old cocktails have numerous slight variations floating around. Two big variations in the Manhattan world:
    • Rye instead of Bourbon. I’ve always made my Manhattans with Bourbon, but there’s a strong argument for rye being the more classic Manhattan whiskey. I think Bourbon became more popular because good Bourbons were available before good ryes in the current cocktail revival. So, try a Bourobon or a rye, both will taste great as long as the whiskey is a decent one.
    • Proportions. I like a 4:1 whiskey to vermouth proportion, but recipes call for as low as a 2:1 ratio. Find the ratio you like.


  • Mix the whiskey, vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass. Stir with ice for 40 rotations.
  • Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the cherry.


Roberts & June