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12 cocktails inspired by a Manhattan

The Manhattan is an OG cocktail. Iconic, timeless and simple, it’s been a popular order for centuries. 

The blend of whisky, sweet vermouth and bitters is a can’t-go-wrong combination. Especially when chilled to perfection. But over the years, more and more drinks inspired by the traditional recipe have surfaced. Many of which are now considered to be classics of their own.

The cocktail’s simplicity lends itself to endless variations, whether by swapping out the spirit or adding a new flavour to the mix. Some twists are as simple as adapting the original 2:1 ratio of whisky to vermouth. 

So whether you’re looking to tweak the Manhattan to make it sweeter, richer or spicier. Or you want to make it completely your own, there’s plenty of ways to do it.

Here’s our favourite drinks that are similar to a Manhattan cocktail.

Manhattan variations

Not ready for too much change? Try one of these simple variations on the classic Manhattan recipe:

  • Perfect Manhattan: equal parts dry and sweet vermouth
  • Dry Manhattan: swaps sweet vermouth to dry vermouth
  • Black Manhattan: swaps sweet vermouth to amaro liqueur
  • Reverse Manhattan: 2 parts sweet vermouth to 1 part whisky
  • Brandy Manhattan: swaps whisk to brandy


Named after the nearby neighbourhood, a Brooklyn cocktail is very close to the Manhattan’s original recipe. But this time with a little more sweet and spice. The French Aperitif, Amer Picon, is typically used for an intense aroma, whilst Maraschino liqueur adds a full-bodied cherry richness. 

The other difference is in the type of vermouth. A Brooklyn swaps from sweet to dry vermouth for a crisper, bittersweet taste.

Old Fashioned

The Manhattan and Old Fashioned are very close cousins. Both have a whisky base and cherry or orange peel garnish. Each has a storied past and is considered a timeless classic. But they also have their unique differences.

The Old Fashioned calls for the same whisky and Angostura bitters mix as a Manhattan. But rather than sweet vermouth, it uses sugar or simple syrup to mellow the whisky’s strength. An Old Fashioned is also served over ice in a rocks glass instead of the coupe or martini glass used for a Manhattan.

Rob Roy

A traditional Manhattan uses rye whisky for a spicier, drier taste. But by playing with different types of whisky, bartenders have created their own variations. Many of which are classics in their own right. Like the Rob Roy, otherwise known as a Scotch Manhattan.

The Rob Roy uses quality single malt scotch for an ultra smooth finish with a hint of smokiness. Use your favourite bottle from The Glenlivet whisky collection like our 15 Year Old whisky which blends sweet almond notes with light, fruity spice.


The Manhattan and Negroni are two of the world’s most popular cocktails. And this recipe is what happens when the two collide. 

Meet the Boulevardier, otherwise known as the Scotch Negroni. It’s got the same rich, warming texture of a Manhattan, but with the crisp, bittersweet taste of Campari. Sweet vermouth is mixed in for added sweetness with an orange peel garnish for a subtle citrus aroma.

Vieux Carré

Move over Manhattan, we’re heading to New Orleans. The Vieux Carré is an original New Orleans creation, named after the city’s French Quarter in the 1930s. It’s an elevated, stand out take on the original Manhattan recipe, with extra flavour and extra bitters.


The addition of smooth, fruity cognac and aromatic Benedictine are complemented by sweet vermouth to create a bittersweet, smoky drink that’s more than worth the effort. Aged in French oak casks, our 15 Year Old scotch is the perfect way to honour the drink’s origins.


Mix cocktail hour with coffee hour in this caffeinated Manhattan twist. This 21st century recipe comes from San Francisco where bartender Jon Santer swapped vermouth for coffee liqueur. It’s a Manhattan meets Espresso Martini with a dark, rich finish. Orange bitters and a orange peel garnish add a touch of citrus sweetness.

Find more alternatives to your favourite cocktails to shake up at home with The Glenlivet. We’ve got plenty more drinks similar to a Negroni plus original Old Fashioned variations to make your own. Check out our full collection of whisky cocktails and discover your next drink.