Manhattan Bundt Cake

Manhattan Cake with Maraschino Cherries

Like many people, I’ve got some traditions for New Year’s Day. Nothing that would stand up to any historical perspective but just ‘our’ traditions. Maybe this Manhattan Bundt Cake will become one?

We have to have some Black Eyed Peas for luck, a tradition that started when our family lived in North Carolina for 10 years, and I have to make a Butter Rum Cake (don’t worry…I’ll get to the Bourbon bit in a minute!) just because. Maybe the because is because it’s so easy?

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Purists will decry the use of a box mix but I refuse to back down. I didn’t always make cakes from scratch; as a matter of fact there was a time when I would go that route only if there was something HUGELY significant that was happening, like my daughter’s FIRST birthday cake or a friends baby shower.

Over the course of many years I became more confident doing things from scratch and now that’s my comfort zone. Except for this favored Rum Cake!cake.

Maybe because it was the first sort of fancy cake that I ever made, or maybe because it had liquor in it (that yes, I was legally able to purchase), it remains in my mind a memory of a special occasion and the cake a memory of a special cake. That has not changed.

Slice of Easy Rum Cake with Butter Rum Glaze and Whipped Cream
Butter Rum Cake

I remember the year I decided it was time to stop using a box mix for German Chocolate cake and the end result of that effort was so amazing that last year I thought it again time to try with my beloved Butter Rum Cake.

I will admit that as much as I am game to play with almost any ingredient, I like to have a base for cakes…I’ve never done the scientific study to determine the ratio for flour, sugar, leavening, etc. so I took to the Internet to see what I could find.

And what I found is that the recipe that I had been making all these many years is literally EVERYWHERE!

And not an ‘original’ or scratch version in site. Something about that was reassuring and I actually don’t mind that the cake is so easy to put together.

So this year, without a thought, I made sure I was ready with a box of yellow cake mix and a box of French Vanilla instant pudding and I would just do my thing, box mix and all.

After a last minute change of plans last weekend, I ended up spending Christmas with a friend and her family after having already purchased all of the ingredients for dinner.

I had a boneless leg of lamb, brussels sprouts, potatoes and the mix for ‘the cake’ so I decided to make my Christmas dinner for New Year’s instead.

Friends were invited, the rub for the lamb was made and the meat was coated and ready to put in the oven; the potatoes for Lemon Garlic Mashed Potatoes were boiling and it was time to bake.

Can I still call it ‘mise en place’ if I’m using a boxed mix…oh, well, that’s what I did next; organizing ingredients for the Rum Cake. Except for one little snafu.

That box with the bottle of rum that I know I saw in my liquor cabinet? It was there alright but unfortunately the bottle inside was EMPTY! Uh oh…what now?

I pulled out every bottle in that cabinet thinking that even though I preferred using dark rum I might have some light rum further back.

Nope…no where in sight, so it was definitely time to punt. And punting resulted in this Manhattan Bundt Cake with Bourbon, Pecans and Maraschino Cherries.

I remember thinking a couple of weeks ago that Thanksgiving was a bourbon holiday. I had a strong tendency to imbue a lot of dishes with this smooth adult beverage then and then see my likings for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday more inclined towards the use of my other favorite which is rum and my favorite old standby.

But I was willing to call on my Thanksgiving friend and substitute…there’s no law against that. Right? Right???

So that’s what I did. The same basic cake would be named after my favorite cocktail that’s served with Maraschino cherries so Manhattan Cake it was.

Now bourbon would be front and center, pecans found their place instead of walnuts and because I was looking for a drink analogy, I decided that adding some maraschino cherries for decoration would come close to a Manhattan, well, if Manhattan’s had pecans!

To tell you the truth…the use of a bourbon blend, which is what I had, doesn’t make for a huge difference and we loved this Manhattan Cake just as much and I’m now apt to be inclined to go this route as well as the other; both are winners.

Stay tuned for my next version; I’m thinking chocolate cake mix with Kahlua and almonds!

Manhattan Bundt Cake – Bourbon, Pecans and Maraschino Cherries

Easy and decadent I love this cake for all those reasons!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Bourbon, Cakes, Cupcakes & Cheesecake
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 719 kcal


For the Cake

  • ½ cup pecans finely chopped
  • Maraschino cherries
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 1 small French vanilla instant pudding mix
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ½ cup vegetable oil

For the Bourbon Glaze

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup bourbon


To Make the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Spray a large Bundt pan (12 cup) with nonstick cooking spray
  • Cut the maraschino cherries in half; decorate the bottom of the bundt pan with cherries; rounded side down.
  • Sprinkle the chopped pecans on the bottom of the pan, over the cherries.
  • Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, eggs, bourbon, oil, and vanilla extract in a large bowl and combine on medium speed with electric mixer for 2 to 3 minutes, scrape down the bowl halfway through until very smooth.
  • Pour into Bundt pan.
  • Bake for about 55 minutes- until fully golden and tester comes out clean and cake springs back
  • Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack while making the rum glaze; do not remove from the bundt pan

To Make the Bourbon Glaze

  • Combine butter, water, bourbon and sugar in a small saucepan
  • Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until sugar is dissolved and syrup is well combined and a little thicker
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Poke holes all over bottom of cake with wooden spoon
  • Pour bourbon/butter syrup evenly all over bottom of cake; making sure the liquid gets into the holes you’ve poked and down the sides of the pan as well.
  • Allow cake to cool 10 minutes in pan before turning out onto serving platter.


Nutrition Facts
Manhattan Bundt Cake – Bourbon, Pecans and Maraschino Cherries
Serving Size
1 Slice
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword bourbon, cake, dessert, holiday, manhattan
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  1. Kudos on your ability to just “go with it!” Really looking forward to see how the almonds and kahlua version turns out!


    P.S. That’s a great picture – what kind of lighting are you using?!

  2. Love this – I am an improvisor too. I think that willingness to just try it anyway with whatever you do have is what helps you grow as a cook. Recipes are a guide, not the law! 🙂

  3. This is cake is beautiful as is the design of the cake pan you used! Love that you are so willing to improvise when called for ingredients are *missing*.

    1. Thanks Paula…I’m the improvise queen. I have a well stocked pantry; seldom do I rush out for one or two ingredients; if I don’t have something? I find something!

      I love the pan too. I just bought it last year at Costco and now, no other bundt pan will do!

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