The Manhattan is a time-worn classic, and over all those years it's become the inspiration for generations of riffs, twists, and re-imaginings. Read on for a selection of our favorites!
Red Moon Over Manhattan
The Manhattan's base template is so enduring, it's no wonder it's spawned so many diverse reinterpretations. To keep things organized, we've split them up into some broad categories:
Changing up the base spirit in a drink is a wonderful way to understand the proportions of the other ingredients, and the Manhattan makes for the perfect canvas for these experiments. A Manhattan calls for either bourbon or rye as its base – swap it out for scotch and you've got a Rob Roy. Use Irish whiskey for an Emerald – and a touch of absinthe makes that a Blackthorne. A brandy or cognac base gets you a Metropolitan, and a bit of orange liqueur and orange bitters makes it a French Manhattan, or a splash of soda water for a Harvard. Can't pick just one base? Split it between rye and cognac for a delicious Saratoga. And way out in left field, you'll see the Hernandez, which takes a vanilla liqueur like Tuaca or Navan for its base.
A Manhattan usually takes sweet vermouth – but change it for dry vermouth to get a Dry Manhattan, or blanc vermouth for a Manhattan Bianco. The Manhattan Transfer adds amaro to its dry vermouth, for the look of the original but a more complex flavor. The Black Manhattan does away with the vermouth completely, using rich herbal amaro in its place. Split the vermouth with walnut liqueur for a nutty Walnut Manhattan, or with maraschino for a cherry-tinged Red Hook – and a dash of orange bitters makes it a Deadly Sin.
A clever trick is to simply flip the proportions of the original for a vermouth-forward Reverse Manhattan. Add a little seasoning in the form of Fernet Branca and absinthe, and you've got an Inside Out. The Session Manhattan leans into the vermouth, making use of both sweet and dry and adding dry sherry to make up for the reduced measure of rye whiskey. Red Moon Over Manhattan uses wine instead of vermouth, and turns it into the base of the drink with just a bit of bourbon for flavor.
The Manhattan East brings both ginger and sake to the party, producing a drink that is nothing like the original recipe, yet possessing a similar balance and intrigue. The Destroyer is a veritable kitchen sink of substitutions, but if you squint you can see the skeletal outline of a Manhattan among the chocolate and blood orange. The Fender Bender drinks like a Manhattan, despite the addition of amaro and maple simple. Finally, there's the Manhattan-in-name-only, the Met Manhattan, which we include only out of fondness for its cheeky name and ridiculous ingredient (but it's still a great drink, even if it's the farthest thing from a Manhattan!)