Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

There are well-known cocktails, and then there are the classics, and we'd argue that a Manhattan fits into this prestigious category, alongside the likes of an Old Fashioned or martini. A good sign of a truly classic cocktail is a short ingredients list, and with only three ingredients (okay, four if you count the orange peel), recipe developer Christina Musgrave's classic Manhattan cocktail definitely fits the bill. "I love the classic flavors of the Manhattan cocktail," Musgrave describes. "It's so smooth and delicious!"

So, what are these so-called classic flavors? "The cocktail has a balance between rye and vermouth flavors with a hint of orange from the orange peel," Musgrave explains. So, yes, this one is definitely for all of you dry-but-smooth cocktail lovers out there. You could go to a bar and order a Manhattan, or you could make an equally-delicious (if not more delicious) version at home by following this recipe. It's only smooth sipping from here, folks.

Gather the ingredients for a classic Manhattan

As we've already discussed, there are but 3 liquid ingredients you'll put into this Manhattan cocktail: rye whiskey, vermouth, and Angostura bitters. There is, of course, a fourth ingredient, which is the orange peel, and you'll definitely want those citrusy notes to cut the dryness of the cocktail. This recipe is very bare-bones, and Musgrave notes that there isn't a special or stand-out ingredient in the mix. Nothing wrong with the classics! 

Stir the ingredients with ice

This cocktail is stirred, not shaken, but you could still build it in a cocktail shaker if you so choose. Otherwise, simply add the whiskey, vermouth, and bitters to a mixing glass (or shaker), along with some ice. Stir the liquid, not only so everything blends together, but so your cocktail catches a nice chill from the ice. 

Strain the Manhattan and serve with an orange peel

Strain the liquid right into a cocktail glass — a chilled one, preferably, as the ice will be staying behind. Finally, twist an orange peel over the cocktail, which will express the citrusy oils right into the drink. You can discard the peel, or you can just pop it right into the cocktail. And voila, you have yourself a classic Manhattan. "This is great for a happy hour at home or a night cap," Musgrave says. With a cocktail this smooth, we'd argue that it's enjoyable for just about any occasion. 

Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe
4.7 from 9 ratings
When you want a smooth cocktail, it's hard to go wrong with the classic Manhattan. This simple cocktail recipe only takes five minutes to make.
Prep Time
Cook Time
dark cocktail in glass
Total time: 5 minutes
  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • 2 ounces vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 orange peel
  1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with ice. Add the whiskey, vermouth, and bitters.
  2. Stir, then strain the whiskey mixture into a chilled cocktail glass and finish by twisting an orange peel over the drink to express the oils.
  3. Discard the peel and serve.
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