Manhattan, the cocktail

First I have to admit that I don’t drink Manhattans, the whisky-based drink named after Manhattan, allegedly created in New York City’s Manhattan Club in 1880. I just don’t like whisky or any of the brown liquors. However, my husband does.

According to people who consider themselves Manhattan connoisseurs, this is the best Manhattan ever. Here’s the story.

My husband and I met friends at a nice restaurant in Oklahoma City for a special birthday event January of 2019. The restaurant is called Vast

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The birthday girl and I ordered pretty typical drinks. The husbands chose Manhattans. And, they continued to order them, being kind of obsessed with them.

Once home, I gathered the ingredients for the Vast Manhattans to surprise my husband on his upcoming birthday, which included Old Forester whisky and Punt e Mes vermouth. One of the ingredients is Strong tonic, a tonic syrup made in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

I contacted the Strong tonic people and asked if they knew the restaurant’s recipe, and I received it!

I told Glenn that the Vast recipe mentioned Old Forester and not Rittenhouse Rye, and he said, “Old Forester is great!” Oddly enough, his name was Glenn Forester!

I substituted Old Forester for the Rittenhouse rye in his recipe. And, to make it just like the restaurant’s bar, I did a sherry rinse, using Harvey’s Bristol cream, and served each cocktail with an Amarena cherry.

The night of my husband’s birthday, these same friends celebrated with us. Let me just say that these are strong drinks! But I won’t go into details.

Evidently the proper glass for a Manhattan is a martini glass, but I find them too top heavy. Plus I’m klutzy.

The above recipe from Mr. Forester is for one drink. Below is a recipe for 4 “hefty” drinks that can be mixed in a pitcher, which is way easier than making one at a time. Plus the pitcher can chill in the fridge before company arrives.

Vast Manhattan

16 ounces Old Forester
6 ounces Strong Tonic, original
2 ounces Punt e Mes
16 dashes Angostura bitters, regular or orange
Sherry, like Harvey’s Bristol Cream
Amarena Cherries and syrup

Have glasses in your freezer before you begin.

In a shaker, combine the whisky, tonic syrup, punt e mes and the bitters. Add some ice cubes and give the mixture a few serious swirls.

Pour a 1/2 teaspoon of sherry into each of two chilled glasses and give it a twirl; dump out excess into sink or mouth.

Strain the ice and pour the Manhattan into the glasses.

Add one or two cherries to each cocktail. I also add just a bit of syrup for fun. No one has complained yet.

I was very Martha Stewarty and placed the amarena cherries on pine sticks.

When you make a pitcher of Manhattans, you don’t really have to add ice because the pitcher can chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. But if you feel the drink is too strong, add a few small ice cubes.

I so wish I could drink whisky.



By Published On: December 18th, 201938 Comments on Manhattan, the cocktail

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Roz December 18, 2019 at 6:09 AM - Reply

    What a nice cocktail to enjoy the holidays with. I love the Italian cherries! Buon Natale!

    • chef mimi December 18, 2019 at 6:44 AM - Reply

      They are the best!

  2. sherry December 18, 2019 at 7:08 AM - Reply

    this sounds like a hefty drink mimi. i’m sure i’d be under the table very quickly! cheers sherry

    • chef mimi December 18, 2019 at 7:24 AM - Reply

      Hi Sherry! I don’t like hefty drinks, which is why I typically stick with wine! But everyone seems to think this is the best Manhattan ever! Merry Christmas!

  3. kitchenriffs December 18, 2019 at 9:54 AM - Reply

    Manhattans are a wonderful cocktail! Rittenhouse rye makes a terrific Manhattan (but I’m more of a rye person than a bourbon person when it comes to this drink). Haven’t heard of Strong tonic — will have to look that up. Thanks. And Happy Holidays!

    • chef mimi December 18, 2019 at 11:25 AM - Reply

      Thanks, John! I figured you’d like this! I can’t hardly stand smelling them! I keep forgetting to taste the strong tonic. It could be more like a tonic-flavored simple syrup? But everyone seems to love these. Merry Christmas!

  4. Jeff the Chef December 18, 2019 at 10:08 AM - Reply

    How interesting! The Manhattan is the first legal drink I ever had, and I’ve been drinking them ever since, so I have had many, many, many Manhattans. I love them! The Manhattan is my favorite drink but I’ve never had one mix like this before! I’m so interested to try it.

    • chef mimi December 18, 2019 at 11:26 AM - Reply

      Hahahahahaha! I guess you have! I hope you can try it, because everyone I test them on says that they’re the best ever. My husband has ordered many since he discovered this one, and when they’re pale in color, they’re not as good, according to him. Have a great christmas!

  5. Ron December 18, 2019 at 1:38 PM - Reply

    A great cocktail and the Vast recipe sounds splendid. I too would likey go with the rye version. I like my drink, but I think I’d be done after two of your Vast Manhattans.

    • chef mimi December 18, 2019 at 1:45 PM - Reply

      Two is the limit. A quickly learned mistake after my husband and friend had three. There was much slurring and laughing!

  6. Tandy | Lavender and Lime December 19, 2019 at 12:11 AM - Reply

    I don’t like whisky cocktails. But I’m intrigued by the additions especially the orange bitters. I didn’t do the shopping I wanted to in the UK so I will add that to my list for Europe next year.

    • chef mimi December 19, 2019 at 6:24 AM - Reply

      Well I don’t like whisky period. Wish I did. I can’t even stand the smell of any of the brown liquors. And smell is just as important as taste. Maybe in my next life!

  7. David @ Spiced December 19, 2019 at 6:22 AM - Reply

    I so wish you were a whisky drinker, too, Mimi! I love a good glass of whisky or bourbon. I also happen to love a Manhattan, and it’s so awesome that you got this recipe from Vast! I am totally going to have to make this during the holidays. I love that you put the amarena cherries on pine sticks…so perfect for Christmas! (Also I had to laugh at your comment about martini glasses. I agree with you!!)

    • chef mimi December 19, 2019 at 6:25 AM - Reply

      Aren’t they awful? Just a terrible accident waiting to happen. Especially with how klutzy i am! I just only drink out of sturdy coffee cups! You’re observant, noticing the little sticks! I’m so creative 😬 Merry Christmas!

  8. Frank Fariello December 19, 2019 at 7:18 AM - Reply

    I love whiskey and I love myself a Manhattan. Brings back memories of bar hopping in New York when I was young and fancy-free…

    I want to try that sherry rinse and see what that’s like. And the Amarena cherries, too. I just recently found some original Maraschino cherries imported from Italy and tried them in, of course, a Manhattan. What a revelation! Nothing like the neon-red variety we’re all familiar with.

    • chef mimi December 21, 2019 at 12:36 PM - Reply

      Those are truly disgusting! Amarena are wonderful, but I also like Luxardo. I think those are Italian as well? If you want to feel young and fancy free again, I hope you can find all of these ingredients! Everyone says it’s the best they’ve ever had.

  9. December 19, 2019 at 12:34 PM - Reply

    I’m not a Manhattan drinker but Gene would have loved them – I would be searching the stores for the ingredients. Funny about the glasses – I consider myself a klutz too but a wine drinker. Unless I am entertaining I drink my wine in glasses without stems. The cherries look familiar – do you have another post using them?

  10. Linger December 19, 2019 at 1:02 PM - Reply

    Oh, I love me a good strong manhattan and this one sounds intriguing and delicious! I can’t wait to try it! And what a great back story. Such creative cute idea for the cherry garnish on a twig. Thanks so much for shring.

    • chef mimi December 19, 2019 at 2:14 PM - Reply

      Thanks so much! It was September when I took the photos, and probably in the 90’s outside. But I wanted to knock out the photos and get the post on the log cause I was going to be traveling a lot! My husband didn’t care. And, this is a strong Manhattan! Merry Christmas!

  11. cookingontheweekends December 19, 2019 at 10:16 PM - Reply

    This drink is a bit strong for me, but I know many people who’d love it!! And guess what?! I have the Amarena Cherries in syrup! I originally bought them because I thought the ceramic jar was so pretty and now I’m a fan. Love the way you styled your photos here. Happy Holidays! :-) ~Valentina

    • chef mimi December 20, 2019 at 12:01 PM - Reply

      Aw, thanks so much Valentina!!!! Merry Christmas!

  12. Debra December 19, 2019 at 11:03 PM - Reply

    I’m not particularly fond of Manhattans, but when my cousin visits we always have the ingredients for his favorite cocktail. I see some real distinctions with the ingredients in the Vast Manhattan. We will definitely be giving this a try. 😉

    • chef mimi December 20, 2019 at 12:01 PM - Reply

      Oh fun! Well if he’s an expert on them, he should love this recipe! Merry Christmas!

  13. Emma @ Bake Then Eat December 20, 2019 at 11:03 PM - Reply

    I have to admit I too am not a whisky girl but I would give it a sip or two, just to try it. Merry Christmas!

    • chef mimi December 21, 2019 at 5:57 AM - Reply

      Thanks Emma! Merry Christmas!

  14. eliotthecat December 21, 2019 at 7:44 AM - Reply

    I do love a good whiskey drink but am partial to the Old Fashion. Vast has been on my to-eat-at list for some time. I wonder if I can get Strong Tonic in the Tulsa area?

    Your cocktails look so delicious I hope you had a sip. Thanks for sharing this recipe!!!!! Happy Holidays!

    • chef mimi December 21, 2019 at 7:49 AM - Reply

      I know they’re similar, but I don’t know enough about them. Vast was a fun experience. I have to have strong tonic shipped to me, but I’m in Enid. Hopefully they sell outside of OKC now. And no, no sip here. I cannot stand the smell of whiskey. I wish I did!!!

  15. David Scott Allen December 21, 2019 at 8:55 AM - Reply

    I am like you, Mimi. I don’t drink cocktails like this very often… I always prefer wine. However, the story of you getting the ingredients and the recipe is so incredibly sweet. What a nice gift to your husband.

    • chef mimi December 21, 2019 at 12:32 PM - Reply

      Aww, thanks David. I will drink a gin and tonic, and I don’t mind vodka when it’s a light pour, but wine wins over any cocktail! Have a wonderful Christmas!

  16. December 22, 2019 at 8:19 AM - Reply

    I’m not really a big fan of cocktails. But I do like a Long Island iced tea. Maybe I should give this Manhattan a go. How was your husband after a night on these?? :-)

    • chef mimi December 22, 2019 at 8:35 AM - Reply

      Well to be honest, he and his other Manhattan-loving friend, learned that night that two is the limit 😬

  17. Eva Taylor December 22, 2019 at 10:20 PM - Reply

    What a great story Mimi. I’ve only ever had a Manhattan once at a tailgate in Chicago. The gentleman made it with all the pomp and circumstance one can muster at a tailgate! Loved the gentleman, the drink, not so much. But I’d love to try this recipe!
    Sorry I’ve been AWOL but we just returned from a month-plus in Arizona! We had three sets of friends join us for 5-6 days each! It was definitely whirlwind but super fun! Now I need a vacation! Merry Christmas, to you and your partner and we hope you have a wonderful new year that’s filled with good health and much happiness!

    • chef mimi December 23, 2019 at 7:06 AM - Reply

      A month in Arizona this time of year sounds heavenly! A manhattan is an interesting drink to make and serve tailgating! I think I made it clear that I don’t like any of the brown liquors, sadly, and at my age I don’t see that changing. But I can sneak a little cognac into eggnog. Thank you for your Christmas wishes, and I hope you get to rest some over the holidays!

  18. sippitysup December 24, 2019 at 12:39 PM - Reply

    Old Forester is a great sub for Rittenhouse as both are 100 proof as opposed to most brands at 80 proof! Merry Christmas. GREG

    • chef mimi December 24, 2019 at 12:44 PM - Reply

      Well maybe that’s why there’s a two drink limit! Wow! Merry Christmas!

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