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The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan


The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

The Manhattan cocktail is the epitome of classy and is a solid go-to drink for any lady or gentleman. Want to know how to make the perfect Manhattan? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

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Bourbon – Sweet Vermouth – Angostura Bitters – Mixing Glass – Stirring Rod (Barspoon) – Julep Strainer ( or any strainer) – Shot Glass/Jigger – Fresh Ice


Combine the Whiskey (Bourbon/Rye/Tennessee), Vermouth, and Angostura bitters into the bottom of a mixing glass | Fill with two-thirds full of ice | Stir for 25-30 seconds | Place Julep strainer inside and strain into cocktail glass

And that’s it!

Do not panic. I will walk you through this entire process, with photos, and by the end of it all, you will be able to make a classic cocktail for yourself, for your friends, and maybe even impress a lady or a gentleman.

If you want to skip down to the actual preparation of the drink, feel free to do so. If you literally have no idea what you have gotten yourself into or just want to know why you’re buying all of these things, read this. If not, read on, friend.

First, I’m going to take into account the Bartender-On-A-Budget. You, my imbibing friend, are going to need some equipment.


I have chosen this cocktail specifically so you can begin to grow your cocktail equipment (as well as your home bar) AND to get your tongue wet with the good old Classics. We are only going to need four things:

1) Mixing Glass

Mixing glass

You may have seen this before…

For the Bartender-On-A-Budget, you can probably steal a pint glass from your local bar after you finish a Guinness or two. Or maybe don’t do that. You can get a cheap one at the dollar store – try to ask for one that is between 16 and 20 oz (OZ. stands for ounces. If you still don’t know what that is, one ounce is equivalent to one shot glass).


Japanese Yarai mixing glass

2) Shot Glass/Jigger


Every single person in the Amerikas has a shot glass lying around the house. So, case closed. Unless you want a Jigger – to measure for success and precision + look like a pro while you mix drinks in front of your friends.

Jiggers are measuring tools and can be found at any cocktail specialty shop and even some wine shops. They aren’t all that expensive, maybe a 5 dollar price tag. Grab one if you are serious about the craft of the cocktail. You’ll want a basic jigger for now with two ends. One end should say 1 oz. and the other 2 oz.(Ounces!) Like so:

3) Barspoon/Stirring Rod


When we put all of our ingredients into the mixing glass, then fill with ice, we are going to have to actually mix these sum-na-beechs togetha’. And please don’t stick in any old spoon. I cannot bear witness to any such atrocities again. Unless… You’re on a budget.

But seriously, it won’t cost you more than 10 bucks and you’ll have that spoon for the rest of your career. I still have mine!


Never let go of yours!

4) Julep Strainer


Okay, so we have stirred the ingredients with the ice to chill down the drink and to melt some of that ice into the cocktail to make it less intoxicating. Perfect. Now, we need to get it into a glass for you to drink.

But you can’t just dump the whole thing into a new glass. This is where the julep strainer comes in. The strainer can be found at quality cocktail shops as well for a low price, but you can also sometimes find them kicking around in cooking stores.

If you feel that you can spare a little extra – and even then, it won’t be that much – you are going to want to go to Cocktail Kingdom

They are an online shop based out of New York and they deliver worldwide. They are the best at what they do and a little investing at this site and your career – whether at a bar, cocktail bar, or as a home bartender – will thank you. Using cocktail equipment lets your audience know that you mean business.

Now that we have all the ingredients, we get to do the fun part… alcohol, as known as the spirits!

For this post, I’m going to be using my Yarai Mixing glass and the Hawthorn Strainer. If you don’t know much about the equipment, check this post out.


We only have three ingredients: Bourbon / Sweet Vermouth / Angostura Bitters


1) Bourbon

I will be using Woodford Reserve Bourbon because I love the taste it leaves in my mouth. You do not have to buy the 26er. But if you do, you can practice making more manhattans.

Side Note: The Manhattan can be made with Bourbon, Rye, and it has been made and will continue to be made with other whiskeys, which is fine. I have opted to use Woodford Reserve.

2) Sweet Vermouth 

What is sweet vermouth? Basically, it is a fortified wine. But right now, all you need to know is that the S.V. is the sweetener in this cocktail. It also pairs very well with whiskey. As you can see, I am using Carpano Antica Vermouth, because it is a quality ingredient and rocks the socks off the ladies (Sorry for that joke, plz stay). For the Bartender-On-A-Budget, you can buy cheap Red Vermouths at any liquor store (mostly).

DO NOT buy white vermouth – a.k.a. dry vermouth. What you want is sweet vermouth, which is RED vermouth. Try the Cinzano Rosso bottlings.


3) Angostura Bitters

Alright, 3 simple dashes of this bad-to-the-bones bottling and you’re going to tie up the two aforementioned ingredients and add a complexity that would go on to shake the foundations of das bier hall forever.

Old Angus can be found in cocktail ingredient stores as well or ordered online! OOOOKAY. So, we have everything now (Don’t forget the ice, though. Buy an ice tray, freeze ice in the freezer, you have ice. Congrats!). Now we can begin the preparation process.



Step 1 – With your jigger/measuring device, pour in 2 oz. of bourbon and drop it into the bottom of your mixing glass. (Or two 1 oz. of bourbon if your jigger does not have a 2 oz. option)

Keep it close to where you’re mixing

Alright, sweet. We have two ounces of bourbon in our mixing glass. High-five.

Step 2 – Take your SWEET vermouth and pour 1 oz. into your jigger, then drop into your mixing glass. Almost done.

Step 3 – Open your angostura bitters and give three good dashes. If you did four, that’s okay. We’re still golden.

Step 4 – Take your lovely Barspoon and hold it like so:

Now, push the barspoon into the bottom of the glass. You will want to keep the back of the barspoon against the side of the glass.

You are going to spin the Barspoon clockwise, with the back of the bar spoon against the side of the glass the entire time. To accomplish this, push out, then pull back in. Push out and around, and pull back in to complete the circle. Two motions.

Do this for 25-30 seconds. Count.

Step 5 – Okay, you have officially mixed the classic cocktail, Manhattan. +100 EXP. points.

Grab your julep strainer and strain your cocktail. I’m using a Yarai mixing glass, which requires a Hawthorn Strainer.


It should just sit in there nicely, but make sure to hold it.


Now, Strainnnnnn it into your drinking vessel. The two “correct” glasses, or most commonly used, are the martini glass or the rocks glass. But use whatever drinking vessel you have preferably glass.

Manhattan Cocktail

CONGRATULATIONS. WOW, WE… no, YOU DID IT. Now, enjoy that sum-na-beech.


It’s time to celebrate!


Btw, if you want to add an orange twist to your Manhattan…


If you hold your thumb down on the peel, you can cut that piece off nicely


Then you’ll want to cut it with a paring knife to make it look sleek



And wrap it around your barspoon


And then *drum roll*


ALSO, PYROTECHNICS! Slice off a piece of orange peel > hold between thumb and forefinger(fingers) > hold facing your cocktail with a lighter in front of it > SQUEEZE



You’ve just aromatized your Manhattan, and gotten all the numbers at the bar. Success.

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More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

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Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

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The Curious Cocktailian

Joseph Plant is a blogger, bartender, musician and anthropology student living in Canada.

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