Written by
The Drink Chef

Black Manhattan

Published on
November 7, 2022


The ingredients for a traditional Manhattan cocktail are whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. Although rye is the conventional and traditional strain of whiskey in this iconic cocktail, blended whiskey, bourbon and Tennessee whiskey will do just fine.

Five boroughs or New York city were once widely recognized in five cocktails of the time each named after a district of New York.

These include the whiskey-based Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, all cocktails of yesteryear.

But Where Did The ‘Black’ Manhattan Come From

The Black Manhattan allegedly created by bartender Todd Smith in 2005 while working as a bartender at Bourbon & Branch in downtown San Francisco. In the Black Manhattan, Smith substitutes Averna amaro for the sweet vermouth of the classic Manhattan. The amaro gives this beautiful dark drink its distinctive hue, hence the name. The final cocktail leans towards a bitter, earthy, herbal elixir, that offers surprise in every sip.

About the ingredients

You'll need Rye whiskey, Averna amaro, Reagan’s Orange bitters Angostura bitters, as well as Maraschino cherries and perhaps an optional orange for garnishing.

Since rye whiskey's peppery kick helps to smooth out a portion of the richness from the vermouth, it was typically used to make an old-school Manhattan. Both bourbon and rye taste good in Black Manhattan. Select bourbon if you prefer something a little sweeter.

Regardless of what you decide, I believe it is advisable to choose a bottle that includes at least 55% alcohol. Whiskeys with higher alcohol by volume (ABV) perform well in stirred drinks like this one because they have more flavor to withstand dispersion and additional ingredients.

By playing with the bourbon, amaro, and liqueurs, you may make countless permutations, much like with the traditional Manhattan recipe. Spice can take the place of notes of sweetness when you switch between rye and Bourbon, or you could try the recipe with brandy or a fine dark rum to create an entirely new drink.

Ingredients to make the drink:

  • Rye or Bourbon Whiskey
  • Averna Amaro
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Regan’s Orange Bitters
  • Maraschino Cherry
  • Orange Peel for garnish (optional)


A confusing variety of bartending gear is available, yet if you observe a bartender in action, you'll notice that they employ relatively few pieces of apparatus. Almost all cocktails need shaking or stirring, so all you need is a mixer and a long-handled cocktail spoon. If possible, you should also bring a stirring glass, although, in the absence of one, you can mix in your shaker tin. Listed below are some of the important equipment you might need for preparing a Black Manhattan cocktail:

  • Cocktail shaker: There are two fundamental designs for cocktail shakers: "three-piece" and "two-piece" shakers. Cocktail shakers are produced in a wide range of sizes and forms. Either of the ones is required. Three-piece shakers are typically simpler for beginners to use and have the added advantage of a built-in sieve, whereas a two-piece shaker also requires a separate Hawthorn strainer. Just flat metal cones, one bigger than the other, make up a two-piece shaker. Whereas the shorter cone can be made of glass, stainless steel, or perhaps even plastic, the larger cone, or "can," is composed of steel material or silver-plated steel. The pair is called a Boston Shaker if the small cone is made of glass, and a French Shaker if it is made of metal.
  • Hawthorne strainer: It is advised that you also purchase a Hawthorne strainer if you chose a two-piece shaker. These include a spring that wraps around the outside of them to help capture any ice and fruit fragments that are produced during the intense shaking. They frequently have "lugs" or "ears" that rest on the shake's rim and maintain the strainer in place while being used. Most Hawthorne strainer designs include a finger rest or ridge that, when pushed, closes the sprung-loaded space in between the strainer and the edge of the shaker, enabling granules to be captured.
  • Mixing glass: The optimum container for stirring is a topic of significant discussion among bartenders, with some favoring glass over metal. Metal uses little energy to heat up and cool down, therefore the warmth of the completed cocktail isn't significantly affected. In comparison, mixing/stirring glasses made of heavier glass have more radiant heat and as a result, they capture more heat from the beverage being mixed.
  • Stirring spoon: Bar spoons come in almost as many variations as there are types of glasses for stirring. Some have three-pronged forked ends, others have plain ends, and some have spiral stems. The important factor is that your spoon's stem extends deep enough into the glass's base. Bar spoons should be at least thirty centimeters long.

How to make-Recipe

The term "Black Manhattan cocktail" refers to a version of the Manhattan cocktail that substitutes an amaro for the traditional sweet vermouth to create a somewhat herbaceous whiskey beverage. With these modifications, the forerunner becomes thicker and somewhat more bitter, with the herbaceous and caramel flavors of the amaro adding to the flavor's depth. The conventional way to serve the classic Black Manhattan cocktail is with a stirred beverage.

  • In a cocktail shaker with fresh ice, merge multiple ounces of Rye, an ounce of amaro, and some generous shakes of Orange bitters and Angostura bitters.
  • Stir until the beverages are thoroughly cooled and comingled.
  • After that, strain the mixture into a ‘chilled coupe finish with some real maraschino cherries and a spiral of orange for kicks.

Shaking a Manhattan dilutes it too much and changes its texture, and you don’t ‘shake’ brown spirits. So, it’s recommended that you stir rather than shake. Put away the cocktail shaker and pick up a bar spoon and stirring glass instead. This one has legs and it sure to be a Halloween classic for ages to come.

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