Five Manhattan Variations for Modern Drinkers

It's no surprise that the simple whiskey classic has inspired countless modern riffs. Here are five that incorporate everything from coffee to amaro.

The Manhattan cocktail, one of the great drinks of the late 19th century, has a steady history as a perennial favorite. Drawing on a three-ingredient template consisting of two-parts whiskey, one-part sweet vermouth and bitters, it’s no surprise that this highly malleable drink has inspired a number of modern spin-offs.

Among these 21st-century takes is Carlton Dunlap’s Raining on 110th St., which builds on a rye whiskey base, but is updated to include both sweet vermouth (in this case Cocchi di Torino) and Punt e Mes, plus a few drops of coffee tincture. Likewise, Abigail Gullo‘s bitter Wry Smile begins with a two-ounce measure of Redemption rye, to which she adds an ambitious half-ounce each of sweet vermouth, two types of amaro and, finally, a touch of cream sherry. Kacie Lambert’s Long Look Back, meanwhile, omits the sweet vermouth all together; her drink, which begins with a split-base of rye and Japanese whiskeys, is driven by herbaceous Amaro Braulio and balanced with a half-ounce of demerara syrup and Angostura bitters.

Then there are those recipes that channel the Manhattan’s other classic brethren, like the Brooklyn, which calls on rye whiskey, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur and Amer Picon. Dating to the early 20th century, the Brooklyn has certainly grown its own cult following in recent years, though many of its more inspired twists are something of a mashup between the drink and its more iconic predecessor. Phil Ward‘s Bushwick, for example, straddles the line between the two: Building on two ounces of rye whiskey and one of sweet vermouth, as a Manhattan might, it also includes a quarter-ounce each of maraschino and Amer Picon in a nod to the Brooklyn.

Lauren Corriveau‘s Rites of Spring, on the other hand, hews more closely to the Brooklyn, with a few twists. Standing in for Amer Picon is a barspoon of orange marmalade, while the dry vermouth is omitted in favor of an aromatic lemon verbena-infused bianco vermouth and Douglas fir eau de vie. Delicate and light in color, the drink might read as thoroughly modern, but there’s no denying its place in the family tree.

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