How to Make a Manhattan: A Bartending Course Guide

So, you’ve decided to take up bartending as a side gig with your college classes. That’s something many college students choose to get some extra cash while they’re in college. It’s not an easy job as many might think, however, there’s a lot of knowledge and skill that goes into making the simplest of drinks to the most complex cocktails.

To be able to start out in the bartending world, you must first learn about the basic yet most essential drinks and how to make them perfect to be able to move up to more difficult ones. A Manhattan, for example, is a drink that has been around since the late 1800s and witnessed a lot of fluctuations in ingredients and variations, but its original version remains the most popular. The drink is named after the bustling New York borough and is believed to have been first created by a bartender during a party in Manhattan held by Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie Churchill, for her father’s friend, Samuel James Tilden, who was the newly elected governor of New York.

Now on to how to make this tasty drink, here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Sweet vermouth
  • Rye whiskey
  • Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish

Add 2 shots of the whiskey, one shot of sweet vermouth, and 2 dashes of angostura bitters to a mixing glass with ice and stir until it’s well-chilled. Afterward, strain it into a chilled coupe then garnish with the maraschino cherry.

This seems simple enough, right? But there are a lot of variations you should still consider, and they are:

  • Perfect Manhattan: Mixing both sweet and dry vermouth along with orange bitters.
  • Dry Manhattan: for those who don’t prefer sweet drinks, replace sweet vermouth with dry vermouth.
  • Brandy Manhattan: Replace the whiskey with brandy.
  • Reverse Manhattan: Make vermouth the star of the drink.

Let’s talk garnish options because you don’t have to stick to maraschino cherry. Another garnish option could be adding a lemon twist using lemon peel to give the sweet drink a kick. There’s also the other question of whether you should use rye whiskey or bourbon which in the end goes back to personal preference.

Finally, you should be familiar with essential bar tools such as the mixing glass which acts as a pitcher but is used specifically for cocktails. There’s also the jigger, which is used to measure drinks and the mixing spoon which is easy to use and clean. Then there is the strainer which is different than the usual ones used in cooking, cocktail strainers are made specially to strain cocktails into another glass.