Cocktail Kingdom Library (home)


rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters, stirred and strained

The second major vermouth drink, by 1882, New York, where Italian “sweet” vermouth and American whiskey share space in the cocktail to produce a notable effect greater than their mere sum.

The recipe shown above is from Theodore Proulx’s 1888 bar guide, and it’s remarkable for explaining exactly how the Manhattan came to be: there was the Whiskey Cocktail, and then there was the Vermouth Cocktail, and then the Manhattan split the difference. This 50/50 Manhattan was common for decades, as were versions that had more vermouth or less vermouth than whiskey. At least since Prohibition ended, most people make their Manhattans with 2–3 parts whiskey to 1 part vermouth, but it’s quite a flexible drink.


Combine in a mixing glass:

  • 2 oz straight rye or bourbon
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1–2 dashes aromatic bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with a cherry

Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails, p. 433–6; Imbibe! p. 252–6; barware icons courtesy of Haus Alpenz