Perfect Manhattan

Story by Tom Johnson; Photography by Heather Wibbels


“Traditionally, Manhattans are made with rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and a dash of bitters. But if you’re dogmatic that a ‘real’ Manhattan must be made with rye, you’re missing a lot of wonderful possibilities…Vermouth can amplify flavor and aroma elements already in the whiskey, while adding surprises of its own. The sweetness of bourbon plays brilliantly with the tartness of vermouth…” -Excerpt from the feature “Vermouth Mixes it Up” by Tom Johnson

Recipes originally published in the Winter 2022 issue of Bourbon+.


  • 2 ounces rye or bourbon
  • 0.5 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 0.5 ounce dry vermouth
  • Two dashes orange bitters
  • Luxardo cherry or lemon peel for garnish


Stir—never shake—the ingredients in a mixing glass filled with cracked ice and strain into a small, well-chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry or, if you’re feeling sassy, a lemon peel.

Tom Johnson
Official Contributor
Tom Johnson is a magazine and television writer and former bartender based in Louisville, Kentucky. As a trainer for the Aroma Academy US, he teaches both enthusiasts and professionals how to properly nose and assess fine wines and spirits. He also dabbles in politics, consulting with campaigns at every level of government.