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Sarah Scrimshire

The Best Smoked Manhattan Cocktail Recipe You Will Ever Need with Only 4 Ingredients!

Table of Contents

let’s dive into the world smoked cocktails with one of the greats: A Smoked ManhattanOne of the most popular cocktails is a Manhattan. While it is simple, the flavors read complex! A Manhattan is a classy cocktail that is easy to create, easy to sip, and now, easy to smoke!

smoked manhattan

What is a Manhattan?

The Manhattan cocktail is a beloved classic cocktail that has stood the test of time. It is known for its sophisticated and robust flavors. Here’s an expanded description:

The Manhattan cocktail is a timeless drink that embodies elegance and craftsmanship. It is traditionally made by combining whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. The whiskey used is typically rye whiskey, known for its spicy and assertive character, although bourbon is also commonly used. The sweet vermouth adds a touch of richness and sweetness, while the bitters provide depth and complexity to the flavor profile.

The Manhattan is typically prepared by stirring the ingredients with ice until well-chilled, then straining the mixture into a cocktail glass. It is often served “up” without ice, allowing the flavors to shine through without dilution. To enhance the visual appeal and add a touch of sweetness, a maraschino cherry is commonly used as a garnish. Some variations may also include a twist of citrus peel for an aromatic accent. Our favorite variation, is the Smoked Manhattan which you will find out how to make below!

Where did the Manhattan originate?

The origins of the Manhattan cocktail can be traced back to the late 19th century. Its exact creation story is a matter of debate and legend, with various accounts claiming credit for its invention. However, it is widely believed to have originated in New York City, specifically in the borough of Manhattan, hence the name. The cocktail is closely associated with the city’s vibrant cocktail culture and the sophistication of its bars and lounges.

The exact origin of the Manhattan cocktail is a subject of debate and there are several theories regarding its creation. While it is widely accepted that the cocktail originated in the late 19th century, the specific details are somewhat uncertain. There are a few popular theories on its origin:

  1. New York City: The most prevalent theory suggests that the Manhattan cocktail was created in the borough of Manhattan, New York City. As the name suggests, it is believed to have originated in the city’s vibrant cocktail culture during the mid to late 1800s. The specific bar or bartender credited with its invention remains unknown.
  2. Manhattan Club: One popular account attributes the creation of the cocktail to the Manhattan Club, a private social club in New York City. It is said that the cocktail was first concocted for a banquet hosted by the club in the early 1870s, where it gained popularity and spread to other establishments.
  3. Dr. Iain Marshall: Another theory points to a bartender named Dr. Iain Marshall, who allegedly created the Manhattan cocktail at a bar in New York City around 1860. According to this account, Marshall mixed the cocktail for a party held by politician Samuel J. Tilden at his home on Fifth Avenue.

While the exact origin may remain unclear, what is certain is that the Manhattan cocktail has become an iconic drink closely associated with New York City. It has stood the test of time and continues to be enjoyed by cocktail enthusiasts worldwide. So let’s keep on reading to get closer and closer to a Smoked Manhattan!

Are there Variations of a Manhattan?

Absolutely! The choice of whiskey for a Manhattan cocktail is a matter of personal preference. Both bourbon and rye whiskey can be used to make a delicious Manhattan, each imparting its own distinct flavors. Here’s a breakdown of the two options:

  1. Bourbon: Bourbon whiskey is known for its rich and slightly sweet profile. It is made primarily from corn and aged in new charred oak barrels. When used in a Manhattan, bourbon adds a smooth and mellow character with notes of caramel, vanilla, and sometimes a hint of fruity undertones. This can result in a slightly sweeter and rounder Manhattan.
  2. Rye: Rye whiskey is known for its spicier and drier profile. It is made primarily from rye grain and aged in barrels. When used in a Manhattan, rye whiskey contributes a bold and robust flavor with notes of pepper, spice, and sometimes a touch of fruitiness. This can result in a more assertive and complex Manhattan.

Both bourbon and rye whiskey have a long history of being used in Manhattan cocktails, and the choice between them ultimately comes down to personal taste. Some people prefer the smoother and sweeter character of bourbon, while others enjoy the spiciness and complexity of rye. Feel free to experiment with both and see which version you prefer. You can adjust the ratios of the other ingredients, such as vermouth and bitters, to balance the flavors according to your whiskey choice. If you want more smokiness to your Smoked Manhattan, check out tip number 5 below!

Yes, there are several variations and adaptations of the classic Manhattan cocktail. Mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts have experimented with different ingredients and techniques to create unique twists on the original recipe. Here are a few notable variations of the Manhattan:

  1. Perfect Manhattan: This variation uses a combination of sweet vermouth and dry vermouth in equal parts instead of solely sweet vermouth. The addition of dry vermouth adds a touch of crispness and complexity to the drink.
  2. Dry Manhattan: In a Dry Manhattan, the sweet vermouth is replaced entirely with dry vermouth. This variation creates a drier and more herbal flavor profile compared to the classic Manhattan.
  3. Black Manhattan: The Black Manhattan substitutes the traditional sweet vermouth with Averna, a bitter Italian amaro. This variation adds a robust and bitter element to the drink, with flavors of herbs, spices, and dark fruits.
  4. Perfectly Perfect Manhattan: This variation takes the Perfect Manhattan a step further by using both sweet vermouth and dry vermouth in equal parts, along with a split of both rye and bourbon whiskies. It results in a well-balanced and complex Manhattan with layers of flavors.
  5. Smoked Manhattan: In this variation, a smoky Islay Scotch whisky is used instead of the traditional rye or bourbon. The addition of the peaty and smoky Scotch whisky creates a distinct and smoky twist on the classic Manhattan. OOOOOOR. You can really amp up that smoked flavor and smoke it with the Smokeshow Cocktail Smoker– this way you can use whichever alcohol you’d like to use and still smoke it! Keep on reading to find out what smoking your Manhattan can do for you! Smoke Manhattan coming up!

What does Smoke Add to a Manhattan?

Smoke can add an intriguing twist and enhance the complexity of the drink. Here’s how smoking a Manhattan is typically done:

  1. Smoking the Glass: One method involves smoking the glass itself. Place your Smokeshow Cocktail Smoker on top of the glass. Add your wood chips ( I suggest using Cherry Smoke Dust) and smoke! The glass is then covered to allow the smoke to infuse into it, creating a smoky aroma and taste when the cocktail is poured.
  2. Smoking the Ingredients: Another approach is to smoke the ingredients before mixing the cocktail. For instance, the whiskey or vermouth can be smoked by exposing them to smoke in a controlled environment. The smoked whiskey or vermouth is then used in the Manhattan cocktail, imparting a smoky essence to the overall flavor. The Smoked Manhattan will instantly become a new fave!

By incorporating smoke, the Manhattan gains a unique sensory element. The smoky notes can complement the richness of the whiskey and the sweetness of the vermouth, adding depth and complexity to the cocktail. The intensity of the smoky flavor can be adjusted by varying the smoking time or the type of wood chips used. The Smoked Manhattan is a great cocktail to have in your back pocket!

It’s worth noting that smoking a Manhattan is an optional technique and may not be preferred by everyone. However, for those who enjoy smoky flavors, it can be an interesting way to elevate the classic Manhattan and provide a distinctive experience- to turn it into a Smoked Manhattan.

The Flavors of a Manhattan

Bourbon- Bourbon, a type of American whiskey, imparts a distinct flavor profile to a Manhattan cocktail. Here’s a description of the taste of bourbon in a Manhattan:

  1. Rich and Smooth: Bourbon is known for its richness and smoothness. It often offers a velvety mouthfeel and a comforting, warm sensation. These qualities contribute to the overall luxuriousness of a Manhattan made with bourbon.
  2. Sweetness: Bourbon has inherent sweetness due to the corn content in its mash bill. This sweetness can range from caramel and toffee notes to hints of vanilla and maple syrup. When used in a Manhattan, bourbon adds a delightful sweetness that complements the other ingredients.
  3. Warm Spice: Bourbon can exhibit subtle spice characteristics. Common spice notes found in bourbon include cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. These spices add depth and complexity to the flavor profile of a Manhattan, enhancing its overall warmth and richness.
  4. Oak Influence: Bourbon is aged in charred oak barrels, which imparts flavors of toasted wood, caramel, and sometimes a subtle smokiness. These oak-derived flavors contribute to the depth and complexity of a bourbon-based Manhattan, providing a pleasing background note.
  5. Bold and Robust: Depending on the specific bourbon used, it may possess a bold and robust flavor profile. Some bourbons exhibit more pronounced flavors, including rich caramel, dark fruits, and even hints of leather or tobacco. These elements can add depth and character to a Manhattan cocktail, creating a more intricate taste experience. Truly highlighting the flavors of a Smoked Manhattan.

The specific characteristics of the bourbon used will influence the exact taste profile of a Manhattan. Different bourbon brands and expressions have their own unique flavor profiles, offering a wide range of options for crafting a personalized and flavorful Manhattan cocktail.

Sweet Vermouth- Sweet vermouth has a pleasant sweetness that is balanced by a subtle bitterness. It offers a complex herbal flavor profile with notes of aromatic herbs, spices, and botanicals. The taste is often accompanied by hints of dried fruits, warm spices like cinnamon and cloves, and a velvety texture.

Bitters- Angostura bitters is a type of concentrated flavoring made from a blend of botanicals, herbs, spices, and alcohol. It is most commonly used as a flavoring agent in cocktails and other alcoholic beverages, and is particularly well-known for its role in classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned and Manhattan.

Luxardo Cherries- Luxardo cherries are a type of cocktail cherry that is known for its high quality and distinctive flavor. Here’s a description of the flavor of Luxardo cherries:

Luxardo cherries have a rich and intense flavor that sets them apart from standard maraschino cherries. They are made from marasca cherries, a sour cherry variety that originates from Croatia. The flavor profile of Luxardo cherries can be described as:

  1. Sweetness: Luxardo cherries have a balanced sweetness that is not overly sugary or artificial. The sweetness is natural and enhances the fruitiness of the cherries.
  2. Tartness: The cherries have a pleasant tartness that comes from the marasca cherries. This tartness adds a tangy and slightly acidic note to the overall flavor.
  3. Fruitiness: Luxardo cherries are bursting with natural fruit flavors. They have a robust and concentrated cherry taste that is both juicy and vibrant.
  4. Almondy Notes: One of the unique characteristics of Luxardo cherries is the subtle almond-like flavor. This is derived from the pits of the marasca cherries and adds an additional layer of complexity to their taste.
  5. Richness: Luxardo cherries have a full-bodied and indulgent flavor. They offer a depth and richness that makes them a delightful treat on their own or as a cocktail garnish.

The Smokeshow Manhattan

Our version of a Smoked Manhattan is below! We also filmed a Youtube video, check that out here! So, if the Smoked Manhattan is in your future, we hoep you give this one a try!

Smoked Manhattan

A smoky twist on an old classic!
Prep Time5 minutes
Keyword: bitters, bourbon, luxardocherries, sweet vermouth
Servings: 1


  • 1 Mixing Glass
  • 1 Bar Spoon
  • 1 1 jigger to measure your pours
  • 1 Smokeshow Cocktail Smoker
  • 1 Butane Torch



  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 3-5 dashes Chocolate & Cherry Bitters Old Forester Brand

Garnish and Smoke

  • 1-2 Luxardo cherries plus the syrup
  • 1 pinch Cherry Smoke Dust



  • Add all ingreidents to a mixing glass with ice. Stir with bar spoon for about 20-30 seconds. Strain into glass.
    2 oz Bourbon, 1 oz Sweet Vermouth, 1-2 Luxardo cherries plus the syrup


  • Place Smokeshow Cocktail Smoker on top of glass. Add smoke dust to the basket, smoke for about 10-15 seconds. Remove smoker, enjoy!

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