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Black Manhattan Recipe

There’s nothing quite like a Manhattan cocktail.

It was created by legendary bartender Jerry Thomas at his bar Harry’s New York Bar back in 1876, and it has since become one of America’s most iconic cocktails.

What Are The Ingredients In A Black Manhattan?

The basic formula for a Manhattan is simple enough – but that doesn’t mean it can be done without some careful thought or preparation.

The key ingredient to any good Manhattan cocktail is the brandy.

Most Manhattans use either cognac or bourbon, but there are other options available if those aren’t your preferences.

Rye whiskey is another popular choice, as well as a dash of Angostura bitters (to give the drink its distinctive flavor) and a splash of Coca-Cola which gives it an extra kick.

A Manhattan is served up neat, so no mixer needed here!

If you want to take things one step further though, try adding just a touch of sugar syrup (or even better, maple syrup).

For this particular variation, we have opted for rye whiskey instead of cognac/bourbon, and added a few more twists along the way.

We started off using just plain old Coca-Cola, but after tasting our first batch, decided to add a little bit of dark chocolate into the mix too.

How Do You Make A Black Manhattan?

The original recipe calls for equal parts bourbon (or rye) and sweet vermouth, but modern recipes often call for a little more or less than that.

The key to a good Manhattan is using a quality brandy such as Cognac or Armagnac – not cheap brands like Everclear – and using a high-proof liquor like 151 proof rum or Scotch whisky instead of straight whiskey.

The addition of bitters is also common practice today, although this wasn’t always so.

Before the 1980s, many bartenders would add Angostura Bitters to their Manhattans, which gave them a distinctive flavor profile.

Today, however, most bars use orange bitters instead, which adds a citrus character without the bitterness of traditional bitters.

For our purposes here, we will be making a black Manhattan, which means substituting dark brown sugar for white sugar.

There are two versions of this drink around, depending on who you ask.

One version uses the same ratio of spirits as the standard Manhattan, while the other uses half the amount of spirit used in the standard recipe.

Our version follows the latter method.

To make a black Manhattan, start off by mixing together 1 ounce of your choice of spirits, 2 ounces of dark brown sugar, and 3 ounces of water in a shaker.

Make sure all of the liquid is submerged and shake well before straining into a chilled martini glass.

Now comes the fun part.

To create the “cola” effect, pour a small measure of cola over the top of your drink.

You can either do this before shaking, or after shaking, but if you wait until after you have shaken your drink, you won’t get much carbonation from the soda.

After adding the cola, stir gently to combine.

Finally, place an ice cube in each corner of the glass, and garnish with a lemon wedge.


What Is The History Of The Black Manhattan?

The black Manhattan is named after its color — black.

The drink itself is made using two ingredients that are traditionally used in making Manhattans: bourbon (or other whiskey) and sweet vermouth.

However, there is a subtle but important difference to this version of the drink.

For starters, instead of using dry vermouth, which can be hard to find outside of specialty liquor shops, we are going to use sweet vermouth.

Sweet vermouth is sweeter than dry vermouth, and also contains more alcohol.

So while both versions of the drink will have similar flavor profiles, they won’t taste exactly the same.

In addition to these changes, we are also adding a bit of cola to our Manhattan mix.

If you want to know what makes this particular variation of the drink so special, then keep reading!

What Is The Difference Between A Black Manhattan And A Regular Manhattan?

A black Manhattan differs from a standard Manhattan mainly due to its coloration.

The key ingredient in this cocktail is a dark-colored spirit called Kentucky bourbon or Canadian whisky.

These spirits have a deep flavor that can be described as having “charcoal notes”.

If you want your Manhattan to have a charcoal coloring, then opt for a darker spirit such as these!

If you are looking for something more palatable, then we recommend using either American rye whiskey or Canadian rye whiskey instead.

Both of these whiskies will give a lighter colored Manhattan (and they taste great too!).

However, if you do choose to go down this route, make sure not to use anything other than 100% rye whiskey – there should never be any substitutes allowed when making a Manhattan.

You may also wish to swap out the Scotch for Irish Whiskey, which gives an even lighter shade of brown.

The ingredients

  • 1 ½ ounces rye whiskey
  • ¾ ounce sweet vermouth
  • ½ ounce Angostura Bitters
  • Cola syrup (optional)


Combine all of the ingredients except the cola syrup into a shaker filled with ice cubes.

Shake vigorously until well chilled. Strain the mixture over fresh ice cubes in another glass.

Top up with carbonated soda water, stir, and garnish with a cherry.

What Is The Best Way To Drink A Black Manhattan?

A black Manhattan is essentially a Manhattan cocktail that also includes a dash of carbonated beverage.

The carbonation gives the drink a fizzy taste, which makes it very different from the traditional Manhattan cocktail.

Black Manhattans are often served as shots because they have such a strong flavor profile.

The ingredients include rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, and soda water.

You can find this exact same recipe online, but we recommend using our own homemade version instead.

How Should You Garnish A Black Manhattan?

The black Manhattan is an extremely simple beverage that can be enjoyed as both a high-end cocktail or as a lowbrow beer drinker’s favorite.

The key to making this drink properly is to use the right ingredients.

You don’t want to overcomplicate things, but you also don’t want to leave out any flavor components.

To start off, we need some quality bourbon (or rye).

Some of my personal favorites are Maker’s Mark, Bulleit Bourbon, W.L. Weller 12 year old Rye, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, and Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Single Barrel Bourbon.

Next up, we have our choice of sweetener.

There’s no wrong answer here, so feel free to experiment! 

personally love maple syrup, brown sugar, honey, or even agave nectar, which adds a nice bit of sweetness without adding too much complexity to your palate.

However, if you do choose something else, make sure to add enough to taste, because this will balance out whatever other flavors you may try later.

Now let’s go ahead and mix all of these together.

First, pour 1 part bourbon into a glass, then 2 ounces of vermouth followed by 1 ounce of maple syrup.

Next, carefully drop 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters into the mixture.

Finally, top everything off with ice and stir until well mixed.

Garnish with a cherry or orange wedge if desired.

What Is The Perfect Ratio Of Whiskey To Vermouth In A Black Manhattan?

The perfect ratio of whiskey to vermouth in a black Manhattan is 5 parts whiskey (bourbon or rye) to 1 part vermouth, which comes out to be about 3 ounces of each per drinker.

The amount of vermouth used depends on how strong your favorite bourbon or rye is.

The more alcohol there is in the drink, the less vermouth will suffice.


  • 5 parts whiskey (bourbon or rye)
  • 1 part vermouth
  • Cola syrup (optional)
  • Bitters


To make this drink at home, combine all ingredients except the soda into a shaker filled with ice cubes, then shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled.

Strain the mixture into a martini glass and top off with cola syrup if desired.

Garnish with an orange peel and serve immediately.

What Are Some Variations Of The Black Manhattan?

The black Manhattan isn’t just a variation of the original Manhattan cocktail that bears its name – though there certainly are many different versions of this drink out there.

The black Manhattan is actually a combination of two drinks: the original Manhattan Cocktail and the Old-Fashioned, which is itself an amalgamation of several older recipes.

So while you can find a few recipes online that call for a specific amount of each ingredient, these aren’t necessarily the best or only way to make it.

In fact, making your own version of the black Manhattan will help ensure that you have all the ingredients necessary to create the perfect drink.

For instance, if you want to use rye whiskey instead of bourbon, then you need to add more vermouth than you would otherwise.

And if you prefer a sweeter taste (or don’t care about sweetness), then you should definitely consider adding a bit of sugar as well.

You may also wish to increase the number of ounces used in the recipe depending on how strong you prefer your drink to be.

If you decide to go ahead and try to recreate the black Manhattan yourself, here are some tips from our experts that will get you started right!

What Is The Ideal Ice To Whiskey Ratio In A Black Manhattan?

The ideal ice to whiskey ratio in any drink can vary depending upon taste preferences.

However, when making a black Manhattan, you want to use as little ice as possible to keep the cocktail nice and cold while still maintaining its flavor profile.

The perfect amount of ice to add to a Manhattan will depend on how much alcohol there is in the drink itself.

A standard Manhattan contains 1 ounce (30ml) of rye whiskey, but because this particular drink calls for more than just that, we need to adjust our calculations accordingly.

If we assume that the base ingredients are all equal – which means 3 ounces (90ml) of whiskey, 2 teaspoons (10ml) of sugar, ½ teaspoon (3ml) of Angostura Bitters, and ¼ cup (60ml) of dry vermouth – then a simple calculation shows us that we should be using around 4 ounces (120ml) of crushed ice.

Now, if we take into account the fact that the drink also contains soda water, we would have to increase the weight of the crushed ice from 4 ounces (120ml) to 5½ ounces (160ml).

As such, we should ideally be using about 6⅓ ounces (180ml) of crushed ice per drink.

If you don’t have access to an electric blender or ice crusher machine, then simply crush the ice yourself before adding it to the glass.

You could even go ahead and place the ice in a large bowl first, so that you can smash up as many pieces of ice together as possible without losing too much liquid.

Just make sure not to over-mix the mixture!

What Is Your Favorite Black Manhattan Recipe?

I love making my own versions of these drinks because I can add or subtract ingredients as needed depending on what I have in stock.

The original recipe calls for equal parts bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters – but I prefer to use rye whiskey instead of bourbon when possible.

A little bit of sugar goes a long way here too – so if you don’t want to go overboard then be sure to adjust accordingly!

Here are some other variations that might work well for this recipe:

  • Cherry-infused Manhattans (try using cherry syrup)
  • Strawberry-infused Manhattans (use strawberry liqueur instead of sweet vermouth)
  • Raspberry-infused Manhattans (add raspberry vodka)
  • Mojito-inspired Manhattans (substitute lemonade for soda water)

Black Manhattan Recipe

There’s nothing quite like a Manhattan cocktail. It was created by legendary bartender Jerry Thomas at his bar Harry’s New York Bar back in 1876
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: black manhattan recipe
Servings: 1
Calories: 147kcal


  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce amaro
  • 1 dash bitters
  • orange peel for garnish


  • To keep a martini glass cool, fill it with ice and water.
  • Get the garnish ready. Using an extremely sharp knife, peel one orange, slice it into strips, and insert a toothpick.
  • Rye whiskey, Averna, and Angostura bitters should all be added to an ice-filled mixing glass. Mix thoroughly with a spoon.
  • Pour into the chilled martini glass after straining.
  • Orange peel is used as a garnish. Enjoy!



Calories: 147kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Potassium: 1mg | Sugar: 0.2g | Iron: 0.01mg
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