Black Manhattan Recipe

Black Manhattan Recipe: Soulful Cocktail Twist

The Black Manhattan recipe- cocktail is believed to have originated in the late 1800s, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the Black Manhattan variation gained popularity. Created by Todd Smith, a bartender at New York’s Bourbon and Branch, this cocktail replaces the traditional sweet vermouth with Averna, an Italian amaro with a distinct bitter flavor profile.

The use of Averna gives the Black Manhattan its deep hue and unique taste. Though relatively new to the cocktail scene, the Black Manhattan has quickly become a favorite among mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts alike.

It combines rich flavors with a sophisticated edge that sets it apart from other whiskey-based cocktails. The history of this drink may be short compared to others in its category, but its impact on modern mixology cannot be ignored.


Servers: 1

  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Averna
  • 2 oz Orange Juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Luxardo cherry (garnish)

Taster’s Guide Tip 214: Black Manhattan

The Black Manhattan is a modern variation of the classic Manhattan cocktail. While the original Manhattan typically uses sweet vermouth, the Black Manhattan replaces it with Averna, an Italian amaro liqueur. This substitution gives the Black Manhattan its distinctive flavor profile, adding depth, complexity, and a hint of bitterness to the drink. It’s a twist that brings a unique character to the cocktail, making it a favorite among cocktail enthusiasts looking for something new and exciting.


  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Add rye whiskey, Averna, and Angostura bitters to the glass.
  3. Stir gently until well chilled and properly diluted (about 30 seconds).
  4. Strain the mixture into a chilled rocks glass filled with ice.
  5. Garnish with one or two Luxardo cherries.

Explanation of Ingredients Used in The Cocktail

To make a delicious Black Manhattan cocktail, you’ll need just four ingredients: rye whiskey, Averna liqueur, Angostura bitters, and Luxardo cherries. Rye whiskey is a vital component of this classic drink because it provides depth and complexity to its flavor profile.

The spicy notes in rye are perfectly balanced by Averna’s bitterness which gives Black Manhattan its signature taste. Averna liqueur is an essential ingredient for making a great Black Manhattan.

Made from more than 30 herbs and spices sourced from around the world including vanilla beans from Madagascar; this Italian amaro offers distinctive flavors of licorice and orange peel with just enough sweetness to balance out rye whiskey’s spiciness. Angostura bitters provide an additional layer of complexity to this recipe thanks to their unique blend of botanicals including cloves and cinnamon bark.

Just one dash can transform a drink into something truly special. Luxardo cherries are the perfect finishing touch to this cocktail; their sweetness and tartness complement the bitterness of Averna and add an extra burst of flavor to each sip.

The Ingredients

Rye Whiskey: A Brief History and Explanation of Why it is Used in the Black Manhattan Recipe

Rye whiskey is a key ingredient in the Black Manhattan cocktail, and for good reason. This type of whiskey has a unique flavor profile that pairs perfectly with the other ingredients used in this drink.

Rye whiskey has been around since the early days of American whiskey production and was one of the most popular styles until bourbon became more widely available. The popularity of rye whiskey can be traced back to its use in cocktails during Prohibition.

During this time, many people turned to cocktails as a way to mask the harsh taste of illegally produced alcohol. Rye whiskey was often used in these cocktails due to its bold flavor, which helped to mask any imperfections or impurities in the alcohol.

In addition to its unique flavor profile, rye whiskey also has a higher percentage of malted barley compared to other types of whiskey, which contributes to its spicy and complex taste. The combination of rye whiskey with Averna liqueur and bitters creates a perfect balance between sweet and bitter flavors that make up the Black Manhattan cocktail.

Averna: An Overview of this Italian Liqueur and Its Unique Flavor Profile

Averna is an Italian liqueur that has been around since 1868. It is made from a blend of herbs, roots, and citrus fruits that are macerated in alcohol for several weeks before being blended with sugar syrup and caramel coloring.

Averna has a dark brown color and a complex flavor profile that includes hints of vanilla, orange peel, licorice root, myrtle berries, juniper berries, cinnamon bark, and cloves. Averna’s unique flavor profile makes it an ideal ingredient for cocktails like the Black Manhattan.

Its sweet yet bitter taste complements the spiciness of the rye whiskey and the bitterness of the Angostura bitters. In addition, Averna’s viscosity helps to give the cocktail a smooth texture and mouthfeel.

Angostura Bitters: A Description of this Essential Cocktail Ingredient and Its Role in the Black Manhattan

Angostura bitters are an essential ingredient in many classic cocktails, including the Black Manhattan. Created in 1824 by Dr. Johann Siegert, a German doctor serving as Surgeon General for Simon Bolivar’s army in Venezuela, these bitters were originally used as a medicine and digestive aid.

They are made from a secret blend of herbs and spices that include gentian root, cinnamon, and cloves. In cocktails like the Black Manhattan, Angostura bitters serve to balance out the sweetness of other ingredients like Averna and Luxardo cherries.

They also add complexity to the drink with their herbal flavors and aromatics. Only a few dashes of Angostura bitters are needed to achieve this effect.

Luxardo Cherry: The Importance of Using a High-Quality Cherry as a Garnish

The garnish used in a cocktail can often be just as important as the other ingredients. This is certainly true when it comes to the Black Manhattan cocktail.

The Luxardo cherry is an essential part of this drink’s presentation and flavor profile. Luxardo cherries are maraschino cherries that have been candied with sugar syrup before being preserved in Marasca cherry syrup.

They have a deep red color, firm texture, and complex flavor that includes notes of almond extract. Using high-quality Luxardo cherries is essential when making a Black Manhattan because they provide both visual appeal and flavor contrast to the drink’s dark color palette.

Additionally, their sweet yet tart flavor complements other ingredients like rye whiskey, Averna liqueur, and Angostura bitters. When making a Black Manhattan, be sure to use Luxardo cherries that are preserved in Marasca cherry syrup, as other brands may not have the same flavor profile.

Variations and Twists

The classic Black Manhattan cocktail is a delicious and well-balanced drink with a rich history. However, as with any cocktail recipe, there are many variations and twists that can be made to suit individual tastes or to add an extra layer of complexity to the drink. Here are some suggestions for variations and creative twists on the classic recipe:

Substitutions for Rye Whiskey or Different Types of Bitters

One of the easiest ways to create a variation on the traditional Black Manhattan recipe is to use a different type of whiskey or bitters. For example, substituting bourbon for rye whiskey can create a smoother, richer flavor profile, while using chocolate bitters instead of Angostura bitters adds a subtle hint of cocoa flavor.

Another interesting substitution to try is using mezcal instead of rye whiskey. This smoky Mexican liquor brings an entirely new dimension to the drink, creating a bold and complex flavor profile that pairs well with the other ingredients in the cocktail.

Creative Twists on the Traditional Recipe

If you want to take your Black Manhattan game up a notch, try experimenting with creative twists on the traditional recipe. One popular variation is adding a splash of coffee liqueur such as Kahlúa or Mr Black Coffee Liqueur.

This creates an interesting balance between bitter coffee notes and sweet cherry flavors. Another creative twist is using smoked ice cubes instead of regular ice cubes in your cocktail shaker.

To make smoked ice cubes, simply place regular ice cubes in a smoker (or smoker bag) and let them absorb some smoke flavor before freezing them. When added to your shaker along with the other ingredients, these smoked ice cubes infuse the cocktail with subtle smoky undertones that complement the other flavors in the drink.

Overall, there are endless possibilities when it comes to variations and twists on the classic Black Manhattan recipe. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own unique twist on this timeless cocktail.

History and Culture

The Significance of Cocktails in African American Communities

Cocktails are not just drinks – they’re cultural touchstones that bring people together. For African Americans, cocktails have played a significant role in their social, political and economic lives.

During the Prohibition era, speakeasies were hotbeds of activity for black communities; music, dancing and drinking coming together to create vibrant social scenes. However, as the civil rights movement gained momentum in the 1960s and 1970s, the relationship between African Americans and cocktails became more complicated.

Many black-owned bars were targeted by police raids, while others struggled financially. Despite these challenges, however, cocktails remained an important part of black cultural identity.

Notable Black Mixologists

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the contributions that black mixologists have made to cocktail culture. One such figure is Tom Bullock – widely considered to be the first African American bartender to publish a cocktail guide in 1917. Another notable name is Frank Meier – a Haitian-American bartender who worked at Paris’ Ritz Hotel during the early 20th century.

Meier created several famous drinks that are still popular today – including The Sidecar and The French 75. Today’s generation of black mixologists includes names like Tiffanie Barriere – who runs her own consulting business called Drinking with Chickens; or Kevin Bradford who founded Cocktail Chronicles – an online publication dedicated to showcasing the work of underrepresented bartenders.

Cocktail Culture as Resistance

In many ways, cocktail culture has become a form of resistance for African Americans; through cocktails they can showcase their creativity while also celebrating their heritage. In this sense it has become not only a way of preserving traditions but also a means for fostering individual expression within the community.

The Black Manhattan, for instance, is a drink that speaks to the history of African Americans and their role in shaping American culture. It’s made with ingredients that are steeped in tradition, yet it remains an inherently innovative cocktail – one that continues to inspire mixologists and drinkers alike.


Recap of Key Points About the Black Manhattan Recipe

The Black Manhattan recipe is a classic cocktail that has been around for almost a century. It is a variation of the traditional Manhattan, with the addition of Averna and Angostura bitters. The recipe calls for high-quality ingredients, including rye whiskey and Luxardo cherries.

The result is a complex and well-balanced cocktail that has become a favorite among mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts alike. To make the perfect Black Manhattan, it is essential to use quality ingredients and to follow the recipe carefully.

The rye whiskey should be smooth and flavorful, while the Averna adds depth and richness to the cocktail. Angostura bitters help balance out all of these flavors, while Luxardo cherries provide a sweet finishing touch.

Variations and Cultural Significance

There are many variations on the classic Black Manhattan recipe. Some mixologists like to experiment with different types of whiskey or liqueurs, while others add unique twists such as coffee or smoked ice cubes.

No matter how it is made, however, this cocktail remains an important symbol of African American culture and history. Cocktail culture has always been an important part of African American social life.

During Prohibition, black-owned speakeasies were some of the only places where people could gather safely and enjoy alcohol together. Even after Prohibition ended, cocktails like the Black Manhattan continued to be an integral part of black social gatherings.

Today, black mixologists continue to push boundaries in the world of cocktails by experimenting with new flavors and techniques. They are constantly creating new recipes and paying tribute to classics like the Black Manhattan along the way.

An Optimistic Spin on Cocktail Culture

As we have seen throughout this article, cocktails like the Black Manhattan are more than just drinks – they are symbols of culture, history, and community. They bring people together and celebrate the diversity of our world. In today’s increasingly divided society, it feels good to know that something as simple as a cocktail can still unite us.

So let’s raise a glass to the Black Manhattan, and to all of the other cocktails out there that remind us of our shared humanity. May we continue to create and enjoy these drinks for years to come!

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