Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail Drink Recipe

This easy Bourbon Manhattan recipe is our favourite cocktail to prepare with quality American whiskey.

The simple 4-ingredient cocktail features sweet red vermouth, bitters, maraschino cherries and quality bourbon whiskey.

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Save our Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail recipe to Pinterest!
Save our Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail recipe to Pinterest!

What Is A Bourbon Manhattan?

The Manhattan was the most famous cocktail in the world shortly after it was invented in New York City’s Manhattan Club, some time around 1880, or so the story goes.

It was invented by Iain Marshall for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston) in honour of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. The success of the banquet made the drink fashionable, later prompting several people to request the drink by referring to the name of the club where it originated, “the Manhattan cocktail”.

Over the years, the whiskey classic has dipped in and out of fashion before finding its footing as one of the cornerstones of the craft cocktail renaissance.

A Manhattan is a cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. While rye is the traditional whiskey of choice, other commonly used whiskies include Canadian whisky, bourbon, blended whiskey, and Tennessee whiskey.

The cocktail is usually stirred then strained into a martini glass and garnished with a maraschino cherry. A Manhattan may also be served on the rocks in a lowball glass.

The whiskey-based Manhattan is one of five cocktails named for a New York City borough. It is closely related to the Brooklyn cocktail, which uses dry vermouth and Maraschino liqueur in place of the Manhattan’s sweet vermouth, and Amer Picon in place of the Manhattan’s angostura bitters.

If you’re looking for a slightly sweeter Manhattan experience use bourbon instead of rye as it’s made of corn and has a sweeter taste.

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Traditional Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail recipe ingredients.
Traditional Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail recipe ingredients.

Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail Recipe Ingredients

The Bourbon Manhattan is a classic cocktail made with quality ingredients:

  • Bourbon Whisky: made with at least 51% corn mash, this slightly sweet American whiskey tastes great when muddled into a Manhattan. We like to use bourbon brands like Evan Williams, Wild Turkey and Elijah Craig.
  • Sweet Red Vermouth: Martini Rosso is an Italian vermouth that pours red and is slightly sweet.
  • Bitters: add a few dashes of bitters to round out your cocktail. You can use classic Angostura Bitters or a seasonally appropriate flavour such as Orange Bitters.
  • Garnish: adorn the glass with a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry cocktail skewer.
Serve a classic Bourbon Manhattan garnished with maraschino cherries.
Serve a classic Bourbon Manhattan garnished with maraschino cherries.

Types of Whiskey

The wonderful world of whiskey can be confusing for newbies as there is a lot more variety compared to tequila and gin.

Whiskey is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash or by distilling beer. Various grains are used for different varieties, including barley, corn, rye, and wheat. Whisky is typically aged in wooden casks, generally made of charred white oak.

The best way to familiarize yourself with whiskey and find a new favourite is by sipping as many varieties as you can. You’ll find single malt whiskies, blended whiskies, single pot still whiskey and and everything in between.

  • Bourbon: An American whiskey, bourbon is made from corn. In fact, to be called bourbon whiskey, the spirit needs to be made from at least 51% corn, aged in a new oak barrel and produced in America. It has no minimum aging period and needs to be bottled at 80 proof or more. Popular Bourbon brands include Ezra Brooks, Wild Turkey, and Maker’s Mark. If you’re making a Kentucky Mule we suggest using Kentucky Bourbon’s like Evan Williams, Larceny, and Elijah Craig.
  • Scotch: is made in Scotland with either malt or grain. The spirit must age in an oak barrel for at least three years. Many of the top Scotch bottles are revered for their peaty character. Popular Scotch brands include Johnnie Walker, Ballantine’s and Ardbeg.
  • Irish Whiskey: has a smoother flavor than other types of whiskey. It’s made from a mash of malt, can only be distilled using water and caramel coloring, and must be distilled in wooden casks for at least three years. Popular Irish whiskey brands include Jamesons, Bushmills and Green Spot.
  • Canadian Whisky: must be barrel-aged for at least three years. It’s lighter and smoother than other types of whiskey because it contains a high percentage of corn. You will find that most Canadian whiskies are made from corn and rye, but can also include wheat and barley. Popular Canadian whisky brands include Canadian Club, JP Wiser’s and Wayne Gretzky Estates.
This Manhattan cocktail recipe is made with bourbon whiskey, red vermouth, and bitters.
This Manhattan cocktail recipe is made with bourbon whiskey, red vermouth, and bitters.

Best Bourbon For Manhattan 

Historically, the Manhattan is made with rye whiskey, which pairs the spice from the grain against the sweetness of the vermouth, but American bourbon can be used as well to great effect.

This depends on what type of bourbon you are using as the style of whiskey has many variables, including mash bill, proof, age, and sometimes cask finishing.

There are also different versions of the Manhattan that you can make, including a Perfect Manhattan or a Black Manhattan.

We spoke to some of the best bartenders in Toronto to learn about their favourite bottles to use when making this classic cocktail based on factors like price, style, and proof. Here are the best bourbons to use when making Manhattans, according to industry experts:

  • Woodford Reserver Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • Old Forester 86 Proof
  • Belle Meade Reserve
  • Buffalo Trace
  • Evan Willams
  • Basil Hayden’s
  • Maker’s Mark
  • Booker’s
We prepared this Manhattan cocktail with Evan Williams bourbon whisky from Kentucky.
We prepared this Manhattan cocktail with Evan Williams bourbon whisky from Kentucky.

Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail Recipe Tips

This bold Bourbon Manhattan cocktail is easy to make at home, ready to serve in under 5 minutes.

Our recipe serves one person. If you’re hosting a large gathering feel free to multiply the ingredients by the number of guests and muddle the drink in a festive punch bowl or jug rather than a cocktail shaker.

We love shaking up this recipe on hot summer days for cocktail hour, at gorgeous garden parties, and during the Kentucky Derby.

Serve a Bourbon Manhattan with large cubes of ice in a traditional rocks glass or elegant martini glass. The chilled drink is the perfect cocktail to lovingly sip on a hot day.

Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail Photo Image.
Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail Photo Image.

Best Bartender Tools & Cocktail Equipment

Before hosting a swanky Bourbon Manhattan cocktail soiree you’ll need to ensure you have the best bartender tools and cocktail equipment.

  • Cocktail Kit: cocktail kits are the perfect gift for newbie mixology fans as they include basic bartender tools like a jigger, shaker and spoon.
  • Cocktail Shaker: a bartenders best friend. Purchase a premium cocktail shaker to muddle or shake up your favourite pink gin cocktails.
  • Cocktail Glassware: make sure your bar is stocked with a selection of unique glassware to show off your favourite cocktail creations.
  • Hawthorne Strainer: this unique strainer features tightly wound coils and perforated holes. It keeps ice and other large ingredients like lime wedges in your cocktail shaker rather than in the glass.
  • Bar Spoons: slender and long bar spoons are a must-have when stirring drinks.
  • Bottle Opener: easily open bottles of beer or cider with the flick of your wrist or purchase a corkscrew for fine wine.
  • Pouring Spout: once you’ve opened a new bottle of gin insert these affordable pourers to make cocktail assembly a breeze.
  • Cutting Board: purchase a petite cutting board for your bar to slice garnishes or citrus wedges like lime, orange, lemon or grapefruit.
  • Ice Bucket: chill bottles of gin quickly in an ice bucket or keep by the bar when muddling gin mixers into cool creations.
  • Ice Crusher: fans of the Mint Julep love an ice crusher.
  • Ice Cube Kit: we suggest purchasing a selection of ice cube trays. Silicone styles are our favourite as they’re easy to clean and are available in various shapes and sizes.
  • Jigger: use a jigger to accurately measure spirits, juices, syrups and shrubs.
  • Juicer: invest in an electronic juicer or buy an affordable hand-held to easily juice fresh citrus like lemons and limes.
  • Muddler: fans of the Mojito love a sturdy muddler to mix mint and lime. Muddler’s are handy for any cocktail featuring ingredients that need a pounding like fresh herbs or citrus wedges.
  • Citrus Peeler & Zester: adorn your craft cocktails with a thick citrus peel or finer ribbons of lime or lemon zest.
  • Rimmer: Bloody Mary and Caesar lovers should outfit their bar with a handy rimmer for salting and sugaring glassware.
This Manhattan recipe is unique in that it is made with American bourbon whisky.
This Manhattan recipe is unique in that it is made with American bourbon whisky.

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Now you're an expert on how to make an easy homemade Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail.
Now you’re an expert on how to make an easy homemade Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail.

How To Make A Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail

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5 from 1 vote

Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail

How to make traditional Bourbon Manhattan. Our easy cocktail recipe features American whisky, red vermouth, bitters and maraschino cherries.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bourbon Manhattan
Servings: 1
Calories: 160kcal


  • Jigger
  • Cocktail Glass
  • Bar Spoon
  • Strainer
  • Cocktail Pick


  • 2 oz Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet Red Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • Maraschino Cherry garnish


  • Combine the bourbon, sweet red vermouth and orange bitters in a cocktail glass with ice and stir until chilled with a bar spoon.
  • Strain into a chilled rocks glass.
  • Garnish with Maraschino cherries.


Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.2g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 1mg

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