Sweet Manhattan

Sweet Manhattan cocktail

Recipe: Sweet Manhattan (serves one or two)

  • 2 oz. bourbon (or rye)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes (1/4 teaspoon) Angostura bitters
  • black cherries for garnish
  • ice sphere (optional)

Stir ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour into a champagne coupe with (optional) ice sphere. Garnish each drink with three cherries.


The Manhattan is a classic American cocktail, dating back at least to 1891.  The presentation of this version is inspired by the way they serve it at the Carthay Circle bar in Disney California Adventure Park (yes, it’s a cool vintage-style bar in a Disney park).

Another LA-area bar with a unique take on the Manhattan is The Bazaar in Beverly Hills. They specialize in molecular gastronomy, and they put a cherry “spherification” in their Manhattan. The result is not only distinctive, but very yummy.

The vermouth.  We use Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth.  We keep our bottle in the refrigerator, which we’ve heard preserves its flavor.

The cherries.  Garnishing each glass with three cherries is a flourish we picked up from Carthay Circle. We use Amarena Toschi sour black cherries in syrup, which we found at our local Gelson’s. We’ve read that the official garnish for a Sweet Manhattan is a lemon twist, but we like the cherry aroma — and we like to eat the cherries afterwards.

The ice.  Carthay Circle has a freezer full of perfectly clear ice cylinders. They put one of them in a hand-operated, room-temperature ice press that melts the outside of the cylinder, reshaping it into a cloudless ice sphere. The bartender there told us that the spheres take three hours to melt, so the drink can still be considered “up”. For our drinks, we use a Trudeau ice sphere tray. It works pretty reliably, but ice made in an ordinary freezer ends up cloudy because it freezes too quickly for the impurities to escape.

For our favorite Manhattan variant, try the Vieux Carré.

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