Perfect Brandy Manhattan

This Perfect Brandy Manhattan recipe is a variation of one the most classic cocktails. It combines the rich and smooth taste of brandy with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.

There are few rights and wrongs when it comes to what you like in food and drink. You might like a traditional Manhattan. You might like it dry, like in this Peanut Butter Whiskey Manhattan. But I promise, once you try a Manhattan with brandy, you’ll love this Perfect Brandy Manhattan.

copper colored cocktail in coupe garnished with Luxardo cherry on two coasters next to an upturned copper jigger.
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Ingredients

copper colored cocktail in a coupe garnished with a Luxardo cherry in front of bottles of brandy, dry and sweet vermouth, and a jar of Luxardo cherries.

Brandy

Brandy is a distilled liquor made from grapes or other fruit like apples (e.g. Calvados) or cherries. Armagnac, grappa, and pisco are all brandies.

 

Cognacs like Courvoisier are a category of brandy made from specific grape varietals in Charente and Charente-Maritime in France. Like with Champagne or Prosecco, a brandy can only be called Cognac if it is made in this specific region.

Other brandy classifications vary based on how long it ages. It’s unfortunately a bit complicated as the classification differs for each kind of brandy.

Vermouth

The Manhattan uses red or sweet vermouth, unlike the classic martini which has dry vermouth. The absence of vermouth makes cocktails like an espresso martini and the pornstar martini not true martinis.

The classic Manhattan contains 2 ounces of rye or bourbon whiskey, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth, and a dash of bitters. It’s garnished with a maraschino cherry. In a dry Manhattan, 1 ounce of dry vermouth replaces the sweet vermouth. Finally, this “perfect” Manhattan recipe is in between with a half ounce of sweet and a half ounce of dry vermouth.

Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations and substitutions

  • Play with different brandies and compare to see how the taste of your Manhattan varies.
  • Try orange bitters or another type of bitters to see how the cocktail changes.

Recipe tips and tricks

Brandy Manhattan taste test

The pic below shows, from left to right, a Dry Brandy Manhattan, Perfect Brandy Manhattan, and the classic. They are different colors because the sweet vermouth is a red-brown color. Because brandy is typically sweeter than whiskey, I would encourage you to do the same taste test to see which you prefer.

three one-ounce glasses filled with liquids ranging from dark gold to copper.

Shaken or stirred

Tip from the wise quacker: the general rule of thumb is that you should shake cocktails with juice and stir cocktails that are all alcohol.

To make your Manhattan, fill a cocktail shaker with about a half cup of ice. Add the brandy, vermouth, and Angostura bitters and stir for about 20 to 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass and garnish with a maraschino or Luxardo cherry.

copper color cocktail in a coupe garnished with luxardo cherry on top of two coasters next to an upturned jigger.

Cocktail FAQs

What’s the difference between a Manhattan vs. Old Fashioned?

An Old Fashioned has sugar or a simple syrup as a sweetener. In the classic Manhattan, sweet vermouth replaces the sugar.

What other cocktails are made with brandy?

If you’re a brandy lover, the Brandy Alexander or the sidecar are two of the most popular brandy cocktails. Try next my Cherry Bakewell cocktail, which is a sidecar-style cocktail made with brandy, amaretto, and cherry liqueur.

How should I store open bottles of vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified wine, so it can last longer than other wines. Store your vermouth in the refrigerator, and it will still be delicious for one to two months after opening.

Why is this two servings?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that a standard drink for distilled spirits is 1.5 ounces.

copper colored cocktail in a coupe garnished with two maraschino cherries on a wood tray.

Check out other fabulous Ugly Duckling Bakery mixed drink recipes like:

Love cocktails and want to explore more? Read all about classic cocktails and bartender basics or join this year’s 52 weeks of cocktails challenge!

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.

Recipe

Perfect Brandy Manhattan

5 from 3 votes
Category: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 83kcal
Equal amounts of sweet vermouth and dry vermouth make this Brandy Manhattan recipe a "perfect" Manhattan cocktail variation.
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Equipment

  • 1 Cocktail shaker Or tall cup for stirring
  • 1 Jigger Or other liquid measure

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces brandy
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • ½ ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • maraschino cherry for garnish

Instructions

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Add the brandy, the dry vermouth and sweet vermouth, and dash of bitters and stir for 20 to 30 seconds.
    2 ounces brandy, ½ ounce dry vermouth, ½ ounce sweet vermouth, 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Strain into a coupe or martini glass and garnish with the cocktail cherry.
    maraschino cherry

Notes

The nutritional information reflects that the US Food and Drug Administration considers 1.5 ounces of liquor to be a single serving.
The teaching is that cocktails made with only liquor should be stirred with ice, and cocktails with fruit juices should be shaken.
This recipe makes a Perfect Brandy Manhattan, which has an equal amount of sweet vermouth and dry vermouth. For a classic Brandy Manhattan, omit the dry vermouth and use one full ounce of sweet vermouth. Or make both, and see which Manhattan cocktail variation you prefer!

Nutrition

Calories: 83kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 1mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg
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