Header shot of a cherry Manhattan cocktail with a cocktail cherry.

Cherry Manhattan – Rye Whiskey and Vermouth Cocktail

Never in a million years did I think that I’d be writing blog post for a Manhattan recipe. I’m not exactly a whiskey lover. But when I found myself with an abundance of cherry simple syrup, I decided to experiment. It’d be nice to have a go-to whiskey drink. It seems like a very refined thing to have. I knew that Manhattans were traditionally garnished with a single maraschino cherry. So my idea here was simply to up the cherry factor with some homemade cherry simple syrup. Let me tell you, it worked like a charm! I’ve been sipping on these all week and they are delightful.

What exactly is a Manhattan?

Good question. A Manhattan is a cocktail made up of whiskey (traditionally rye), sweet vermouth, and bitters. It’s also commonly garnished with a cocktail cherry! It was originally created in New York City’s Manhattan Club (hence its name) in 1880, so it’s nothing if not classic. And like many classic things, its variation possibilities are endless.

Legit maraschino cherries are expensive. Do I have to use them?

Listen. I feel you. I really do. I’d avoided buying proper maraschino cherries for years because I scoffed at the idea of a $20+ jar of cherries. But eventually curiosity killed the cat and I caved. I opted for the famed Luxardo maraschino cherries. If I was going to spend that much on a jar of cherries, they had better be legit. Well, I’m here to tell you that they’re worth it. Seriously. They’re absolutely nothing like the neon cocktail cherries you’d find in say, a Shirley Temple. Proper maraschino cherries are a thing of beauty, and I fear that they’re now a staple in my household. Oh well.

If you can’t justify buying the good stuff, I get it. It’s a garnish, so while I really do recommend Luxardo or something similar to it, you can use whatever you’d like here. Cheaper maraschinos will do. So will fresh cherries.

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Do I have to make my own syrup?

I can only attest to homemade cherry simple syrup. And it’s really easy to make, but definitely a bit time consuming (20 minutes of simmering, plus cooling time). If you have store bought cherry syrup of some sort, though, I guess you can use it. You can also use the syrup that comes with your cocktail cherries if you’d like. If you do either of those things, I’d love to know how it turned out!

The cherry simple syrup recipe I’m going to provide you with makes quite a bit. It’s a 1:1:1 ratio of cherries, sugar and water, though, and it’ll keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks. Mine used 2 cups of each. If you’d like less, adjust accordingly!


Cherry Manhattan – Rye Whiskey and Vermouth Cocktail

Course Drinks
Keyword Angostura bitters, cherry manhattan, Manhattan, maraschino cherries, rye whiskey, whiskey
Servings 1


Cherry Simple Syrup

  • 2 cups Cherries (Pitted and quaretered)
  • 2 cups Water
  • 2 cups Granulated sugar

Cherry Manhattan

  • 2 oz Cherry simple syrup
  • 2 oz Rye whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet vermouth (I'd recommend Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth)
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters


  • 1 Maraschino cherry (To garnish)


  • Make the cherry simple syrup. To do this, combine all the ingredients in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once it's about room temperature, strain and store the liquid in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Add 2 oz cherry simple syrup, 2 oz rye whiskey, 1 oz sweet vermouth, and about 3 dashes Angostura bitters to a cocktail shaker. Shake to combine, and then pour into a glass with ice. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and enjoy!

Once you’ve got the cherry simple syrup on hand, these babies come together so quickly and easily! If you can, I’d recommend making the cherry syrup a day ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry about it when it’s cocktail time.

If you make these, be sure to let me know in the comments or on Instagram! I always love hearing from you.

Oh, and if you’re looking for more refreshing cocktails, check out my Lychee Empress Sparkler or my Elderflower Bee’s Knees!

2 thoughts on “Cherry Manhattan – Rye Whiskey and Vermouth Cocktail”

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