Mezcal Manhattan


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Introduction to the Mezcal Manhattan

The Mezcal Manhattan is a bold reinterpretation of a classic cocktail. With its smoky undertones and complex flavor profile, it’s a drink that commands attention. The traditional rye whiskey is replaced with mezcal, introducing a distinctive agave twist.

Manhattans have long been a staple in the cocktail world, but the Mezcal Manhattan brings a contemporary edge. It’s perfect for those who appreciate a cocktail with depth and character. Let’s dive into the smoky allure of this modern classic.

Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or a curious enthusiast, the Mezcal Manhattan is a cocktail that won’t disappoint. Its balance of bittersweet and aromatic notes makes it a versatile choice for any occasion.

Key Facts About the Mezcal Manhattan

  • Alcohol Content: 31% ABV
  • Calories: Approximately 180 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: Approximately 4g
  • Glass Type: Chilled cocktail glass
  • Typical Garnish: Brandied cherry or orange peel twist

Interesting Facts about the Mezcal Manhattan

  • The Mezcal Manhattan is a twist on the classic Manhattan, which dates back to the early 1870s.
  • Mezcal, the star ingredient, is made from agave plants, primarily in Oaxaca, Mexico.
  • The cocktail’s smokiness can be adjusted by the type of mezcal used, allowing for a personalized touch.

Mezcal Manhattan Cocktail

Tasting Notes for the Mezcal Manhattan

The Mezcal Manhattan offers a smoky, bittersweet flavor that’s both robust and refined. The mezcal provides a smoky base, while the sweet vermouth adds a rich, herbal sweetness.

Angostura bitters contribute a layer of complexity with their spice and bitterness. This cocktail is ideal for those who enjoy a drink with a lingering finish and a sophisticated edge.

Perfect for evening soirees or a quiet night in, the Mezcal Manhattan suits any moment that calls for contemplation and savoring.

History of the Mezcal Manhattan

The Manhattan cocktail has a storied past, with several theories about its origin. Most agree it was first mixed in the early 1870s, with the Mezcal Manhattan emerging as a modern variant.

Mezcal itself has been distilled in Mexico for centuries, but its incorporation into classic cocktails is a newer trend. The Mezcal Manhattan reflects the growing appreciation for this traditional spirit outside of Mexico.

As the cocktail culture evolves, the Mezcal Manhattan stands as a testament to the timeless appeal of reinvention and the fusion of old and new.

Mezcal Manhattan Ingredients

  • Mezcal (2 oz / 60 ml): The heart of the cocktail, mezcal brings a smoky depth.
  • Sweet Vermouth (1 oz / 30 ml): Adds a sweet, herbal complexity to the drink.
  • Angostura Bitters (2 dashes): Provides a subtle spice and enhances the overall flavor profile.
  • Ice Cubes: Essential for chilling and diluting the cocktail to perfection.
  • Garnish: A brandied cherry or orange peel twist adds a final aromatic touch.

Did you know? The Manhattan is named after the New York City borough where it was first created.

Ingredients for Mezcal Manhattan

Mezcal Manhattan Method

Chilling the Glass

Start by placing your cocktail glass in the freezer to chill. A cold glass will keep your Mezcal Manhattan at the perfect temperature.

Preparing the Mix

Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes to the brim. This ensures a quick and even chill when stirring the cocktail.

Combining the Ingredients

Pour the mezcal, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters over the ice. The order doesn’t affect the taste, but it’s all about the ritual.


Stir the mixture for a full 30 seconds. This not only chills the drink but also dilutes it slightly, mellowing the flavors.


Using a strainer, pour the cocktail into your chilled glass. This leaves the ice behind, ensuring a smooth drinking experience.


Add the garnish last. Whether it’s a brandied cherry or an orange peel twist, it should complement the drink’s smoky essence.

Serving Suggestion for the Mezcal Manhattan

The Mezcal Manhattan is traditionally served in a chilled cocktail glass. The wide brim allows the aromas to tantalize the senses before each sip.

For garnishes, a brandied cherry offers a touch of sweetness, while an orange peel twist adds a citrusy zing. Both should be prepared fresh for the best flavor.

Elevating the Mezcal Manhattan

  • Quality Mezcal: Choose a mezcal with a smokiness level that suits your palate. The type of wood used for smoking the agave can greatly influence the flavor.
  • Homemade Vermouth: If you’re feeling adventurous, craft your own vermouth to add a personal touch to the cocktail.
  • Artisanal Bitters: Experiment with different bitters to find a unique blend that complements the mezcal’s smokiness.

Elevating the Mezcal Manhattan

Substitutions and Alternatives for the Mezcal Manhattan

If mezcal is not available, a peaty Scotch can be a suitable substitute, adding a different kind of smokiness to the drink.

For a less sweet version, try a dry vermouth instead of sweet. This will give the cocktail a sharper, more astringent profile.

Similar cocktails include the classic Manhattan, the Rob Roy (made with Scotch), and the Boulevardier (which includes Campari).

Add a Twist to the Mezcal Manhattan

Infuse your mezcal with herbs or spices to introduce new flavors. Thyme or rosemary can add an intriguing herbal note.

Consider using a flavored syrup, like agave or maple, to sweeten the cocktail instead of vermouth for a different kind of sweetness.

Add a splash of absinthe for an anise-flavored complexity that plays well with mezcal’s smokiness.

Preferred Liquors for the Mezcal Manhattan

For the mezcal, Del Maguey Vida is a popular choice for its balance of smoke and sweetness. It’s approachable for newcomers and appreciated by aficionados.

Carpano Antica Formula is a top pick for sweet vermouth, offering a rich, vanilla-forward flavor that complements the mezcal beautifully.

When it comes to bitters, Angostura is the classic go-to, but don’t be afraid to try orange or chocolate bitters for a twist.

Similar Cocktails to the Mezcal Manhattan

The classic Manhattan, with its rye whiskey base, is the closest relative to our smoky variant. It’s perfect for those who prefer a less smoky profile.

The Old Fashioned shares the Manhattan’s simplicity and depth, substituting sugar and water for vermouth.

The Negroni, with its gin base and Campari, offers a similarly complex bittersweet flavor that’s perfect for adventurous palates.

Food Pairings to go with the Mezcal Manhattan

Classic steak tartare complements the Mezcal Manhattan’s bold flavors, matching its complexity with its own rich, savory notes.

For a lighter option, consider a charcuterie board with smoked meats and aged cheeses that echo the smokiness of the mezcal.

Dark chocolate truffles can be a decadent pairing, their bitterness and richness playing off the cocktail’s profile.

Mezcal Manhattan FAQs

Can I make a Mezcal Manhattan without Angostura bitters? While Angostura bitters are traditional, feel free to experiment with other bitters to find your preferred taste.

Is it possible to make a Mezcal Manhattan less smoky? Yes, choose a mezcal that’s less intense in smokiness or adjust the ratio of mezcal to vermouth.

What’s the best way to garnish a Mezcal Manhattan? A brandied cherry or an orange peel twist are classic choices, but feel free to try other citrus peels or even a smoked salt rim.

Can I serve a Mezcal Manhattan on the rocks? Absolutely, serving it on the rocks will make it a bit more mellow as the ice slowly melts.

How can I make my Mezcal Manhattan stand out? Use high-quality ingredients, chill your glass, and pay attention to the balance of flavors when mixing.

Mezcal Manhattan_001

Mezcal Manhattan

A smoky twist on the classic Manhattan, substituting the traditional rye whiskey with mezcal for a deep, complex flavor profile.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Course Cocktail
Calories 180 kcal


  • Mixing glass
  • Bar spoon
  • Strainer
  • Cocktail glass


  • 2 oz Mezcal (60 ml)
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth (30 ml)
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: Brandied cherry or a twist of orange peel


  • Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes.
  • Pour the mezcal, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters into the glass.
  • Stir the mixture for 30 seconds until well-chilled.
  • Strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a brandied cherry or a twist of orange peel.


For a more intense smokiness, select a mezcal with a higher concentration of agave smoked over mesquite or oak. The Mezcal Manhattan can also be served on the rocks in a lowball glass if preferred.
Keyword Agave, Aromatic, Bar, bitters, Bittersweet, classic, Manhattan, mezcal, mixology, Smoke, spirits, Stirred, Vermouth, Whiskey

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