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Perfect Manhattan

Perfect manhattan cocktails on bar.

The Perfect Manhattan is a revered classic in the realm of cocktails. This variation of the famed Manhattan cocktail is crafted with the meticulous balance of sweet and dry vermouth, complemented by the robust character of rye or bourbon whiskey, and punctuated with the complexity of bitters. The Perfect Manhattan embodies elegance in simplicity. Its allure lies in the seamless harmony of these components, resulting in a beverage renowned for its velvety smoothness and distinguished character.

Whether you’re a seasoned cocktail enthusiast or an eager novice, this classic libation promises an immersive experience steeped in history and a taste that remains an enduring favorite across generations. Even those who love the classic Manhattan can enjoy this simple variation and appreciate how a small change can make a big impact on flavor. 

History

The Manhattan cocktail has a rich history that dates back to the early 1880s. According to CanCan Awards, the drink was created at the Manhattan Club in New York City. Over time, the recipe for the Manhattan cocktail evolved, and different variations emerged. One of the most popular variations is the Perfect Manhattan, which uses both sweet and dry vermouth in equal amounts. This gives the cocktail a drier, more complex flavor than the traditional Manhattan. In the context of a cocktail, “perfect” refers to the use of both sweet and dry vermouth in equal parts. This creates a more complex flavor profile than using just one type of vermouth.

How to Make It

Perfect manhattan cocktails on bar.

Perfect Manhattan

Yield: 1

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Rye whiskey or bourbon
  • ½ oz Dry vermouth
  • ½ oz Sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Bitters (Angostura or orange)
  • Garnish (brandied cherry or lemon twist)

Instructions

  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Add rye whiskey or bourbon, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, and 2 dashes of bitters.
  3. Stir the mixture until it's well-chilled.
  4. Strain the mixture into a chilled Nick & Nora glass or cocktail glass.
  5. Garnish the cocktail with a brandied cherry or a lemon twist.

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Variations

If you’re looking to switch things up from the classic Perfect Manhattan, there are a few variations you can try. Here are some of the most popular variations:

Dry Manhattan

If you prefer a drier cocktail, you can make a Dry Manhattan by using dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth. This variation is a great option for martini drinkers who are looking to try something new. The recipe for a Dry Manhattan typically calls for 2 ounces of whiskey, 1/2 ounce of dry vermouth, and a dash of bitters.

Classic Manhattan

The classic Manhattan uses only sweet vermouth instead of half dry and half sweet. It’s been called a perfect cocktail, although the “perfect” variation is preferred by some. 

Maraschino Manhattan

For those with a sweet tooth, the Maraschino Manhattan is a great option. This variation uses maraschino liqueur in place of the usual sweet vermouth. The result is a sweeter, fruitier cocktail that is perfect for those who love a little extra sweetness in their drinks. The recipe for a Maraschino Manhattan typically calls for 2 ounces of whiskey, 1/2 ounce of maraschino liqueur, and a dash of bitters.

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Deal Closer

The Deal Closer is a special variation of the Perfect Manhattan that is perfect for celebrating a big business deal or other special occasion. This version uses a higher quality whiskey and a dash of absinthe to give it a unique flavor. The proportions for a Deal Closer are typically 2 1/2 ounces of high-quality whiskey, 1/2 ounce of sweet vermouth, 1/2 ounce of dry vermouth, a dash of absinthe, and a dash of bitters.

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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