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Black Manhattan 

The Black Manhattan is a revered classic among cocktail aficionados. This iconic beverage, characterized by its marriage of whiskey, amaro, and bitters, has held court in bars for well over a century even though it’s a variation of the original Manhattan. 

boozy refreshing black manhattan cocktail with amaro

Crafted as an inspired variation, the Black Manhattan reimagines tradition by substituting sweet vermouth with the rich complexities of Averna amaro, hailing from Sicily. Conceived by bartender Todd Smith at San Francisco’s Bourbon & Branch in 2005, this reinvention has captivated the discerning palates of cocktail enthusiasts.

The inclusion of Averna amaro introduces an interesting twist of bittersweet notes, infusing the drink with an alluring complexity. Its robust bitterness intertwines harmoniously with the whiskey’s inherent sweetness and the bitters, creating an enigmatic and indulgent flavor profile.


The Black Manhattan cocktail is a modern variation of the classic Manhattan cocktail. In 2005, bartender Todd Smith of San Francisco created the Black Manhattan recipe by changing one main ingredient: he used Amaro Averna instead of sweet vermouth. Averna is a bittersweet liqueur made from herbs and roots, and is produced in Sicily by the Averna family. The Black Manhattan is richer in taste, slightly boozier, and a bit heavier than the original recipe, but also more flavorful.

Todd Smith’s Black Manhattan recipe has gained popularity since its creation, and is now a staple in many cocktail bars around the world. The recipe calls for rye whiskey, Averna, and two types of bitters, and is typically garnished with an orange twist.

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Salvatore Averna, the current president of the Averna Group, has praised the Black Manhattan cocktail, stating that it is a modern interpretation of a classic cocktail that showcases the versatility of Averna. The Black Manhattan is a great example of how bartenders can take a classic recipe and put their own spin on it, creating a new and exciting drink that can stand the test of time.

How to Make It

Making a Black Manhattan cocktail is a simple process that requires a few ingredients and some basic mixing skills. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you make a perfect Black Manhattan cocktail.

boozy refreshing black manhattan cocktail with amaro

Black Manhattan

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes

Making a Black Manhattan cocktail is a simple process that requires a few ingredients and some basic mixing skills.

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you make a perfect Black Manhattan cocktail.


  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz Averna amaro
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1-2 brandied cherries for garnish


  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Add rye whiskey, Averna amaro, Angostura bitters, and orange bitters to the mixing glass.
  3. Stir the mixture until it is well-chilled.
  4. Strain the mixture into a chilled coupe glass.
  5. Garnish the cocktail with 1-2 maraschino cherries.

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There are many variations of the Black Manhattan cocktail, and each one offers a unique twist on the classic recipe. Here are a few variations to try:

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Campari Variation

For a more bitter version of the cocktail, replace the amaro with Campari. This will give the drink a bright red color and a strong bitter taste.

Scotch Variation

Swap out the rye whiskey for a smoky Scotch to give the cocktail a peaty flavor. This variation is perfect for those who enjoy a smoky and complex whiskey.

French Martini Variation

Add a splash of pineapple juice to the cocktail to create a French Martini variation of the Black Manhattan. This will give the drink a fruity and sweet flavor.

Try Different Brands 

Experiment with different brands of rye whiskey and Italian Amaro, like Amaro Nonino, Ramazzotti, or Cynar to find the perfect combination for your taste. 

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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