brandy manhattan recipe

In our house, I make the food, and David makes the drinks. And breakfast, because I don’t function well in the morning. I don’t drink a lot of beer, so that means that while we often enjoy classics, David also comes up with delicious solutions to my weird specifications. (“I want something with gin that doesn’t have tonic or sugar but is also sweet… Go!”) He’s great at coming up with fresh new ideas using the basics, which is all we can get in North Carolina, and he’s sort of become my family’s go to bartender. When we go to my parent’s house, or even to visit relatives, he always ends up making the drinks. We thought it would be fun if he stopped by my blog occasionally, and shared what we’re enjoying at the moment.

The Manhattan is a simple, classic cocktail, and one of my all-time favorites. It’s just two common ingredients, rye whiskey and sweet vermouth, with a dash of bitters and a cherry. There are many variations on the Manhattan, the best being the Brandy Manhattan.

Brandy Manhattans replace the whiskey with brandy, as you probably guessed. They are similar in flavor to the traditional Manhattan recipe, and they are a great alternative for people who are not crazy about whiskey. The Brandy Manhattan is especially cool because both its main ingredients start out as wine. Brandy is created by distilling wine, and vermouth is wine that has been fortified with various herbs and spices. This makes the flavors go especially well together, and it adds to the uniqueness of the drink.

brandy manhattan recipe


5 parts brandy

2 parts sweet vermouth

dash of angostura bitters

maraschino cherry


This cocktail can be served straight up or on the rocks. Stir the brandy, vermouth and bitters with ice, then strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a cherry and enjoy.

My favorite thing about a Manhattan, more than the warm, sweet flavor and the cherry at the end, is the beautiful brown and red colors produced by the brandy/cherry combination. In a cocktail glass, it seems to radiate light, like a dark red sunset. Don’t stare at it too long though. Drink that sucker!

Fun fact about rye whiskey*:
“Rye whiskey can refer to either of two types of whiskey: 1) American rye whiskey, which must be distilled from at least 51 percent rye; 2) Canadian whisky, which is often referred to (and labelled as) rye whisky for historical reasons, although it may or may not actually include any rye in its production process.”


  • Michaela {au naturel design}

    Too funny. My boyfriend spent a bit of time in NY and now he’s obsessed with that drink. Some places make it better (stronger) than others I’m told. It’s not my cup of tea but I’ll keep your recipe in mind for when I make the drinks. Cheers!

    • lovecitron

      I think part of the allure is that you get to feel like an extra in Mad Men while you’re sipping on it! The recipe is definitely pretty strong, there’s nothing worse than a watery Manhattan.

  • Jessica

    Have you ever tried freezing cherries in your ice cubes? Would that even work in this drink? Or, to get really weird, freezing cherry juice?
    I feel like David should do a variants post on this (since I am much too lazy to do it myself) :)

  • David

    @Jessica: Cherry ice cubes sound awesome! I will try that asap and see what happens. I bet cherry juice would freeze too if it was watered down some.