Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

With a rich history and the perfect combination of ingredients, the Classic Manhattan Cocktail is as perfect today as it was in years past.

Classic Manhattan Cocktails Served on a Gold Bar Tray

I was sent a couple of gorgeous glasses from my cousin who had split up items from my Aunt Eddie and Aunt Patsy’s estate. Sadly one of them was broken in transit so of course I wanted it more than ever. I had the urge to make a Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe and knew I needed a champagne coupe to represent how it was classically made.

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The perfect opportunity was at hand to feature this storied cocktail during a ‘Mad Men’ party a group of bloggers decided to throw to commemorate the final season of the television show that so  many are hooked on. I wanted to make a traditional cocktail of the era and I wanted it in the right glass, doggone it! Nothing else would do for serving this Classic Manhattan!

I searched high and low; I went online and found some by Kate Spade, she of the overpriced designer category, and others by Waterford, still overpriced but a name that I would more proudly attribute to my stemware. I finally found the perfect reasonably priced glasses by Libbey (remember, I just wanted them for a couple of photos) but I was not interested in an entire case. Drat!!

I was definitely a woman on a mission so I called YaYa’s in the Denver Tech Center, my favorite restaurant, hoping they had some on their shelves that I could borrow. Turns out the manager did one better! When I talked to Scott, he said they didn’t have any in the restaurant but he thought he had some at home packed away.

Scott offered to check and let me know. The following morning his email was like a gift, he had found his cache and would drop off a package at YaYa’s for me to pickup. Tell me, how many restaurant managers will do that for you? YaYa’s will always fix mussels the way I like them no matter what the current menu offering is and I love them for that but this was over and beyond.

Many thanks Scott. What? I can keep the glasses too? All FOUR of them? I already thought you the best and now my readers know why…I LOVE these glasses!

 Classic Manhattan Cocktail Served with Mushroom Pate

This Classic Manhattan Cocktail is an elegant cocktail with a rich history; some of it fabricated to lend more glory to its name but all leading to it originating in Manhattan, one of the five Burroughs of New York City. By all accounts it originated in the later part of the 19th century and has seen a resurgence often attributed to the popularity of ‘Mad Men‘ – the television show chronicles the lives and social mores of the 1960′s in America.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t expect to be a fan. Let’s just say that my parents both enjoyed a Manhattan. They were a part of that 60′s generation that drank too much and partied too hard; there were affairs and a divorce and in a real soap opera twist; a re-marriage. By them. To each other.

Watching that play out on the small screen hit a bit too close to home so I kept my distance from the show for the first couple of years until a friend insisted I do a marathon with her and doggone it; I was hooked. Truth is I had also kept my distance from a Manhattan all these many years for many of the same reasons and that was another error in judgement on my part.

This is no lightweight drink. Recognizing that my taste in wine has segued from Boone’s Farm to a nice Cabernet over the years, I’m quite certain that if someone had introduced me to this cocktail those many years ago; it would have been received less than favorably. This is booze, pure and simple.

Despite some controversy over where it began, one area without controversy is the continued popularity of the drink. It is still considered one of the finest cocktails ever conceived and on every bar’s list of best cocktails.


Purists (who are these people anyhow?!!) presume that the only way to create a Manhattan is with Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth and Bitters but there are those who cry sacrilege if not using Dry Vermouth. Most concede that Rye Whiskey is the liquor of choice and I love Templeton Rye but bartender choices run the gamut from Bourbon to Rye to Canadian Whiskey.

For me it has to be Rye but I’m more forgiving with the Vermouth depending on tastes, personally preferring Sweet Vermouth. Bitters are seeing a huge boon in popularity right now and the choices are endless but this is a Manhattan and Angostura bitters are a must. Sometimes something is so good that you simply don’t mess with that success!

When I originally posted about this Classic Manhattan Cocktail; it was in conjunction with a bunch of blogging friends who were verklempt over the ending of the Mad Men television series. I had originally created a post with both a cocktail and an appetizer; never again. Hard to find one if the focus is on the other; so here’s the delicious Mushroom and Walnut Pate recipe!

While this reboot had me clean up some of the focus on that event from a couple of years ago; I would be remiss to remove these recipes…a great collection of food and drink from that era.




PIN IT! ‘Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe’

Classic Manhattan Cocktail

This is an American Classis; the Manhattan is simply and elegant and perfect for your most adult get togethers.
5 from 50 or more votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Whiskey
Servings 2 Cocktails
Calories 228 kcal


  • 4 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 4-6 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherries for garnish I’ve used my own version which are a combination of sour cherries and Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur


  • Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes.
  • Stir well.
  • Strain into two chilled cocktail glasses.
  • Garnish with the cherries.


Nutrition Facts
Classic Manhattan Cocktail
Serving Size
1 grams
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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  1. Thanks Jennie; the glasses are so precious I’m nervous using them but hey, they do me no good in a chine hutch! It looks so wonderful Manhattan! I like this cocktail. Thanks for sharing!

  2. In all honesty however I have needed to make mushroom pâté since I initially saw a formula for it in Vegetarian Epicure. I love the manner in which yours looks and I may very well at last make it!! That martini glass is truly ravishing!

  3. Such positive thoughts are moving in the mind of every person all the time and it is somethingthat is new for us.I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it.

  4. Those glasses are gorgeous. The mushroom pate recipe sounds delicious! I think I could actually get my mushroom-hating husband to eat this since the texture is changed.

    1. I had a comment on the dish that one guy’s wife loved the pate and she doesn’t like mushrooms. There is hope!

  5. Believe it or not but I have wanted to make mushroom pâté since I first saw a recipe for it in Vegetarian Epicure. I love the way yours looks and I might just finally make it!! That martini glass is really gorgeous!

    1. It is so good I never make liver pâté anymore; I know everyone will eat this. Did you see the comment from the fellow whose wife does not like mushrooms but loved this? No greater testimony right? 🙂

  6. I love those glasses and I have to say I got a bit sniffly at the thought of your aunts’ glass getting broken. Then when Scott said he’d look, I was feeling better. Then when he found them I was even better. But… when he said you could have them AND I saw the photos, I got sniffly again. So often we focus on the few bad things in the world and forget about so many good people.

    I make a good mushroom pate but my goodness, mine isn’t as good as this. Once I looked at the ingredients list, I knew yours was better and I must have it.

    1. He made me sniffly too; I am a total sucker for those unexpected acts of kindness, of being reminded of the goodness of people that is so often hidden behind the constant news of the bad ones. A reader left a comment that his wife loved it and she doesn’t like mushrooms so bet you would love it!

  7. Wow, Scott is definitely a great friend to have! Wish I’d known you were having a Mad Men party! I participated in a virtual one with the author of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook and had a few friends over last night to watch Sunday’s episode again. Everyone contributed popular appetizers from the ’60s and I mixed Don Draper’s go-to cocktail – the Old Fashioned. Your Manhattans look fabulous! Cheers, Barb!

    1. You would sure have been a perfect fit! I wanted to do the old fashioned but someone else had tagged it and I had already posted one not that long ago. The Manhattan was sure tasty but it’s definiitely a ‘big girl’ drink! Cheers back at ya!

    1. Love hearing that Doug; maybe it was the booze but I’m thinking cream cheese and garlic didn’t hurt either. 🙂

  8. I have to say, I’m normally a purist about things, but since I started making bitters a few years ago, I’m always excited to try new varieties and use them when I can in cocktails. Admittedly, though, I think the bitters boom is a little out of control at the moment; there’s a tiny corner store in my (admittedly kind of hipster) neighborhood that sells organic produce and has an entire shelf dedicated to different kinds of bitters. I guess they know their audience! Anyway, I love Manhattans; your glasses are gorgeous! I need to bookmark this mushroom pate too!

    1. I’ve done some homemade bitters too Kelly and I agree with you wholeheartedly about the out of control; fads tend to do that don’t they? I get asked all the time to feature a specialty cocktail from some major ‘mixologist’ and the ingredients often include bitters I’ve never heard of. I won’t do those for the blog; I want to create a cocktail or share classics that people can actually make in their home! Still, for this Manhattan; I know Don’s drink would have included Angostura! Whatever or however; yes the pate is worth making!

  9. I love this post! I always want to know the history behind everything, so this was great, and both the cocktail and pate look amazing. I recently tracked down my own pair of coupe glasses at an antique store after admiring the way Betty sips her gimlets. As a semi-veggie (fish, no meat), I LOVE the mushrooms, too. Happy Made Men viewing on Sunday!

    1. I post a cocktail every Friday and often include ones I call ‘Classics.’ Those I like to delve into the history of; it’s amazing how many of them have really interesting stories and characters involved. The pate is so good; I might have had nothing but for dinner last night. Maybe. OK, I did. 🙂

  10. Love this blog party! I love your glasses, too. This pate and the drink are must makes for me. Love all the characters, really, in their own way they are great but gotta say Peggy, I guess.

    1. Thanks Mary and I love them too. I would love them without their reminder of someone’s generosity but that sure does add to the value for me! Hope you do try them; thanks for stopping by.

  11. The last time I tried to order an Old Fashioned, they said they couldn’t make one and offered me a Manhattan instead. Not knowing the difference between the two, I accepted–and was nearly knocked over by that **this is all liquor** feeling. My dad, who was at the same event, told me that’s what you order when you’re trying to do some serious drinking. Ha! Still, they have their moments.

    I love your story of how you acquired the glasses for this photo shoot! You have a great relationship at that restaurant!

    1. Yes, it takes the right time and place; especially time to not be rushed and be able to sip it. Oh, and yes…a really good bourbon helps! 🙂

  12. K – first off, GENUIS blog party – love love it. Those glasses are gorgeous and my neighbors always bring over a pitcher of Manhattans when we have them over for dinner or happy hour. Admittedly, they are a bit strong for this gal but they are a beautiful cocktail sure! And loving this mushroom pate as I’m not big on the real deal 🙂

    1. I like chicken livers cooked with stock for a long time and used in a gravy at Thanksgiving but even then I have to make a separate batch for everyone else so I don’t think you are alone…and I sort of figured as much. Besides, this is REALLY good. Any leftovers? I put it in an omelet. OH MY GOOD!

  13. That mushroom pâté is styled with fineesssee. If only my chunky french onion dip looked as stylish. I’m glad you gave Mad Men a second chance. It’s just too good of a show not to love <3

    1. Well I WAS in my home studio so I had no excuse; it’s all about the other stuff bring some color into play and of course topping it with enough parsley that the brown sludge underneath is not quite so evident. Trust me, your French Onion Dip looked far better than mine would have if I hadn’t been able to do that. Mushrooms + Cream Cheese = Grayish Brown Dip. 🙂

    1. Agreed, Scott really is. I was totally verklempt. I know; Don is now my desktop image. 🙂

  14. Champagne coupes are pretty, aren’t they? I think (though I’m not positive) they were also the original martini glasses (before the v-shaped “martini” glass evolved). The Manhattan is one of my favorite drinks. I prefer a 2:1 ratio, but your 4:1 ratio is also quite nice. Sweet vermouth for me, although sometimes I like a Perfect Manhattan — half sweet vermouth, half dry. Good post — thanks.

    1. So pretty; of course new ones are etched so these were so perfect to mimic something from another era. I had heard that about martinis too John! I have another post on the site about the Perfect Manhattan and it is different. This is certainly not an everyday cocktail; it’s a slow sippy one…something I seldom have time for! 🙂

  15. Wow, that was really nice of him! Such pretty vintage glasses! I’m just really digging that mushroom pate, I adore all things mushroom so these will be a perfect appetizer. I’ve never been a fan of whiskey but now I know what to order when I’m feeling adventerous. btw, I too have grown my apertifs from Boones Farm to a good Cabernet 😉

    1. He is such a nice guy Gwen but this was unexpected and truly a sweet gesture. The pate is divine and if you’re interested in trying some bourbon/whiskey cocktails let me know; I would probably suggest something a bit more lightweight to start. I have a friend who has often said, ‘I hate bourbon’ and then I’ll make her a great bourbon cocktail and she’s can’t believe she likes it!

  16. I love Manhattans! Such a classic, tasty drink and mushroom pate. Yum! I want to come hang out, nosh and sip with you with these two fantastic recipes. As for my favorite Mad Men character … Shh … I’ve actually NEVER watched! Gasp! It’s been in my Netflix queue for quite some time. I just have very little time for television. But one of these days I truly do want to start watching it.

    1. I would seldom watch TV either except for insomnia. So thankful I can DVR shows I want to see and have them available from 2-4am. Well, not thankful I’m awake but as long as I am at least I’m not laying there trying to count sheep! 🙂

  17. My grandmother asked for a Manhattan with Southern Comfort a few years ago for her birthday, so I did some research on the internet and bought the appropriate ingredients. She enjoyed the drink – maybe a bit too much. The family still gives me a hard time for getting her tipsy with one drink!

    1. Thanks Jennie; the glasses are so precious I’m nervous using them but hey, they do me no good in a chine hutch!

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