Robert’s Perfect Manhattan cocktail is smoky and full-bodied, but isn’t as sweet as most – he uses rye instead of bourbon!

(Photo by Rick Souders)
Table of Contents
  1. Robert’s Perfect Manhattan Drink
  2. What is a Perfect Manhattan?
  3. How to make a Perfect Manhattan
  4. Should a Perfect Manhattan be cold or room temperature?
  5. Can the Perfect Manhattan be made in advance?
  6. Perfect Manhattan Recipe FAQ
  7. Pin it now to save for later!
  8. Perfect Manhattan Recipe

Robert’s Perfect Manhattan Drink

To celebrate our anniversary one year, Robert and I visited the Palace Arms restaurant at the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver. Opting to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail in their beautiful lobby, Robert noticed a Rye Manhattan on the drinks menu. While he wasn’t partial to Manhattans in the past (he felt they were too sweet), on this night he thought their use of rye instead of the traditional bourbon might lend better flavor. He was right – it was delicious! Shortly thereafter he created his own version of a Manhattan.

Robert follows the Brown Palace’s lead and uses rye whiskey in his Manhattan. The rest of his recipe calls for the traditional ingredients in a “Perfect” Manhattan. While creating his recipe, we both learned that there are several different types of Manhattan cocktails (traditional, dry, perfect, etc.) – who knew! The basic differences are the liquor (rye or bourbon) and the type of vermouth (only sweet, only dry, or a combination of the two).

What is a Perfect Manhattan?

A Perfect Manhattan is considered to have a nice balance of sweet and dry, and that’s why Robert uses its ingredients. In addition to rye, Robert includes both sweet and dry vermouth as well as bitters. He opts for a maraschino cherry garnish instead of the traditional lemon twist called for in the  “Perfect” version. Speaking of maraschino cherries, Robert recommends Luxardo brand from Italy – they are more flavorful, not as sweet, and don’t have any artificial coloring added.

What is the difference between a Manhattan and a Perfect Manhattan?

A traditional Manhattan is made with whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. A Perfect Manhattan calls for whiskey, 50/50 sweet and dry vermouth, and bitters.

What does the word perfect mean in a Perfect Manhattan?

When “perfect” is an adjective describing a cocktail, it means that sweet and dry vermouth are added in equal amounts.

How to make a Perfect Manhattan

Here’s how Robert makes his Manhattans:

  1. Prep glasses.
    Fill a martini or coupe glass with ice water to quickly chill; let stand 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and dry.
  2. Prep shaker.
    Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes (large cubes won’t melt as quickly as small cubes in the spirits and/or liqueur).
  3. Add ingredients and shake.
    Add rye, vermouths and bitters. Shake well.
  4. Strain and pour.
    Pour through a cocktail strainer into a chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish and serve.
    Garnish with cherries, if desired, and serve.

Should a Perfect Manhattan be cold or room temperature?

Yes, Robert recommends serving Manhattans cold, but preferably not over ice, as the ice will melt and dilute all the wonderful flavors.

Can the Perfect Manhattan be made in advance?

Yes, Manhattans can be prepared ahead of time. Just measure out the ingredients ahead and place in a pitcher. When ready to serve, shake, strain, pour and garnish.

Perfect Manhattan Recipe FAQ

What ingredients are in a Perfect Manhattan?

Perfect Manhattans are made with whiskey (Robert prefers rye whiskey), both sweet and dry vermouth, and bitters.

How do I order a Perfect Manhattan?

Tell the bartender you want a “perfect rye Manhattan up” and specify your favorite brand of rye whiskey. If you don’t have a favorite rye, ask for a recommendation.

What is the best liquor to make a Manhattan with?

Robert likes to make his Manhattans with rye whiskey – he feels they are less sweet this way.

What’s the difference between an Old-Fashioned and a Manhattan?

An Old Fashioned is prepared with whiskey, sugar and bitters, while a Manhattan calls for whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters.

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Perfect Manhattan Recipe

My husband Robert’s Perfect Manhattan cocktail is smoky and full-bodied, but isn’t as sweet as most – he uses rye instead of bourbon!

  • Yield: One cocktail

Ingredients

Scale

4 ounces (1/2 cup) good quality rye whiskey

2 ounces (1/4 cup) sweet vermouth

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) dry vermouth

Several shakes of bitters

Garnish: maraschino cherries (Luxardo brand)

Instructions

  1. Fill a martini or coupe glass with ice water to quickly chill; let stand 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and dry.
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes (large cubes won’t melt as quickly as small cubes in the spirits and/or liqueur).
  3. Add rye, vermouths and bitters. Shake well.
  4. Pour through a cocktail strainer into a chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish with cherries, if desired, and serve.
  • Author: (From “Fresh Tastes” by Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Category: Cocktails, easy entertaining

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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I haves provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.


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