Better than the original, the perfect Brandy Manhattan is a simple and sophisticated twist on a classic cocktail. It embraces the rich and smooth taste of brandy to create a balanced drink that is slightly sweeter than its traditional whiskey counterpart.
The Perfect Brandy Manhattan Cocktail Recipe
The Manhattan is a classic cocktail made with rye whiskey, vermouth, and cocktail bitters. It was first invented in the 1870s and remains a popular drink to this day.
Swapping the whiskey for brandy or cognac in a Manhattan Cocktail makes a substantial difference in the flavor profile - especially if you are used to adding a spicy rye whiskey.
Brandy is sweeter than whiskey with fruity, floral, and citrus notes. So therefore brandy makes for a sweeter and more complex Manhattan cocktail. And this is balanced out by the inclusion of dry vermouth.
So because it is sweeter and lower in alcohol, a Brandy Manhattan is referred to as a 'perfect' Manhattan Cocktail. And it is an elegant and tasty drink that you can enjoy all year round.
Want to learn more about dark liquors? Check out our GUIDE TO DARK LIQUOR to find out more!
What is in a Brandy Manhattan
A Brandy Manhattan is made by combining brandy with both sweet and dry vermouth along with a dash or two of cocktail bitters. It is a simple recipe that creates a tasty and well-balanced drink. You can find more information about this recipe's ingredients below:
- Brandy. A distilled liquor made from grapes or other fruit like apples and cherries. We recommend using good-quality brandy for this cocktail recipe as its flavors will really shine through.
- Dry vermouth. Vermouth is a fortified wine and dry white vermouth is very dry, with a bitter finish. This ingredient perfectly balances the sweetness of this cocktail.
- Sweet vermouth. Also known as red vermouth, sweet vermouth is subtly sweet and spicy. This adds delicious complexity and flavor to the cocktail.
- Angostura bitters. These traditional cocktail bitters have a unique, nuanced flavor that makes for a great addition to this cocktail. But you could also use other kinds of bitters such as orange or even chocolate bitters.
A classic garnish
The classic garnish for a traditional Manhattan is a Luxardo cherry. This is a type of cherry that is dark red, almost black in color, and has a much different flavor from the classic cocktail cherry.
A Luxardo maraschino cherry is complex, fruity, and nutty - almost like amaretto. You can find Luxardo cherries online or at most local liquor stores. But of course, you could also just use a classic maraschino cocktail cherry or brandied cherries instead if you can't get hold of any Luxardo ones.
Another delicious twist on a classic Manhattan is a Rob Roy Cocktail. And we have an easy recipe for you to check out this tasty scotch drink here!
How to make The Best Brandy Manhattan
A Brandy Manhattan is a classic "stirred" cocktail. This means it is incredibly quick and easy to make - you simply mix the cocktail together with ice and then strain it into a serving glass. To make a Brandy Manhattan, follow the step-by-step instructions below or find a full, detailed recipe at the bottom of this post.
Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add the brandy, vermouth, and bitters.
Stir with a spoon until the drink is well chilled, about 30 seconds.
Strain the cocktail into a serving coupe glass. Garnish with a Luxado or cocktail cherry before serving immediately.
Best brandy to make a Manhattan
You can generally use any type of brandy for a Brandy Manhattan. That is except for Pisco, a Peruvian brandy made of fermented grapes with a sour, earthy flavor.
We suggest trying different types of brandy and comparing them to see how the end result varies and to find which you like best. Here are some of our favorite types of brandy to use to make a Manhattan, in order of preference:
- Cognac. Cognac is a type of brandy that comes from the Cognac region of southwestern France. It is made with a fruit base of white grapes. It has a spicy, fruity, and nutty taste with notes of vanilla and oak.
- Armagnac. This is a full-flavored French brandy that is aged in oak barrels. It has delicious notes of dark caramel, chocolate, and burnt orange
- American brandy. Brandy was America’s first distilled spirit. It was made from the abundant apples, peaches, and pears that grew among the colonies. American brandy is fruity and a great choice for this cocktail.
- Calvados. This is an apple or pear brandy made in France with delicate flavor notes. It has a specific production and can only be produced in Normandy, much like how Cognac can only be distilled from white wine made within a particular region from certain grapes.
- Brandy de Jerez. This Spanish brandy is dry and smooth, with notes of toffee, almond, vanilla, cacao, and black fruits.
- 1 coupe serving glass
- 2 ounce brandy
- ½ ounce dry vermouth
- ½ ounce sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes angostura bitters
- Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add the brandy, vermouth, and bitters.
- Stir with a spoon until the drink is well chilled, about 30 seconds.
- Strain the cocktail into a serving coupe glass. Garnish with a Luxado or cocktail cherry before serving immediately.