Lesson Two: Recipes

Chapter Six: Whiskey Up, aka The Manhattan

Supporting Cast:
Rob Roy

The Manhattan

The Manhattan is not unlike Dixieland jazz, a wild, disruptive, even punky music that with the passing years became corny and old and then, on the verge of extinction, roared back to take the top of the charts by storm. Okay, that last part’s wishful thinking as regards the music, but the Manhattan’s definitely busting a move again. After two generations as a walking antique (yes, cocktails don’t walk, but it sounds better than “sitting there dumbly in a glass”), this simple combination of American whiskey and Italian vermouth—and a couple dashes of bitters, please—has seen an increase in the size of its royalty checks. Maybe it’s because we live in challenging times, times that demand both a soothing word and a motivating kick in the pants. The Manhattan, when properly constructed with American straight rye whiskey, supplies both. Made with bourbon or, especially, Canadian whisky, it merely soothes—not a bad thing, but a definite case of underachievement.

2 ounces American straight rye whiskey, preferably around 100 proof
1 ounce Martini & Rossi red vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
To finish: lemon peel (or a maraschino cherry)

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass; twist lemon peel over the top. (If you must have it garnished with a cherry, go ahead—but it tastes better with a twist.)

Substitutions: For the rye, bourbon—preferably around 100 proof (if you’re using bourbon, Cinzano vermouth works well; Carpano Antica works even better)—or Scotch, in which case it’s a Rob Roy you’ll be drinking; for the straight red vermouth, half and half red and white vermouths (a Perfect Manhattan); for the Angostura bitters, orange bitters (this is particularly nice).

Rob Roy

This variation on the Manhattan was introduced at New York’s Fifth-Avenue Hotel in 1897.

2 1/2 ounces Scotch whisky
3/4 ounces Italian sweet vermouth
Dash Angostura Bitters

Pour all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir as you would a Martini. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel.


The Verrazano takes the bourbon Manhattan—no rye Manhattan, but still a toothsome tipple—and bangs it into third gear. A little apricot brandy for lushness, a rinse of Campari (the impossibly red, impossibly bitter Italian aperitif), and the right vermouth and badabing badaboom! (As they say in stereotype-ridden dramatic entertainments set on the banks of the Verrazano Narrows.)

Splash of Campari (for rinsing the glass)
2 ounces 100-proof bourbon
1 ounce Cinzano red vermouth
1/2 teaspoon imported apricot brandy
To finish: lemon peel

Pour the Campari into a chilled cocktail glass, twirl it to coat, and pour the excess out. Stir  the bourbon, vermouth, and brandy (with ice, of course) and strain it into the glass; twist lemon peel over the top.


Ryan Demonstrates How To Make a Manhattan.

Chill cocktail glass and set aside
In mixing glass add;
2 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
2 dashes of Regan’s or other Orange Bitters
Add ice and stir
Strain into chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with maraschino cherry

Rob Roy

Ryan Demonstrates How To Make a Rob Roy.

Rob Roy
In mixing glass add;
2 oz Blended Scotch Whiskey
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
3 to 4 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Add ice and stir
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with lemon zest

Reproduced from “Killer Cocktails” by David Wondrich.