Minty at Home: Martini vs Manhattan

Martini and Manhattan


A few weeks ago when I started making drinks at home, resurrecting my Minty Popup Bar, I made a pair of classics; the Martini and Manhattan. I recently did inventory and though I had a lot of booze and actually quite a decent amount of modifiers, my lack of “real” sweet vermouth was a concern. And I didn’t have a dry vermouth. So these two aren’t your standard Martini and Manhattan. Then again, these two drinks are very personal and I’ll explain why.

First of all, the classic Martini drinker is no such thing. You’ll find people who swear by a 50/50 ratio, 2:1 ratio or even 3:1 ratio. The equal or lesser part is usually vermouth. And then there are those who are vodka martini drinkers. We won’t talk about them today. But those “martinis” are actually known by an uncommon name, Kangaroo. That’s right, a vodka martini is a Kangaroo.

Moving on, a Martini calls for dry vermouth. I only had bianco which is sweeter than dry. Though it is not sweet vermouth (generally a nice shade of red). In the old days you would call white/dry vermouth French and the red/sweet vermouth Italian. But now everyone makes vermouth. Just make sure that vermouth has wormwood which gives the fortified wine that nice bitterness. And yes, the word vermouth comes from vermut (wermut) which is wormwood in German.

As for my sweet vermouth, I had none. But I remembered I had Bigallet’s China China Amer which I liked in many drinks that were a Manhattan style. So that’s what I used. I still love it and until I get my hands on a bottle of Cocchi di Torino or even better barolo chinato, this China China Amer is a fab substitute.


  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • lemon twist

As mentioned, I didn’t have dry vermouth so pour some bianco vermouth (I used Carpano Bianco) along with gin into a mixing glass. For this Martini, I went with the classic Beefeater. Add ice, stir like crazy. It’s cold enough when you start to see condensation. I did this in my mixing tin and strained it into a coupe. I spritzed the top with a bit of the lemon oil from the twist and you’re done.

Now, if you like dirty martinis, it’s pretty easy to add the brine from some olives into the mix. However, there are dedicated brines you can buy. I like the one from Dirty Sue. And make sure to get their olives as well!


  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • lemon twist or maraschino (the good kind) cherries

For the Manhattan, you follow the simple formula of whiskey and vermouth, stir and drink. I prefer rye whiskey. That spiciness is welcome. Otherwise you can use any whiskey you like including Scotch (now the drink is called a Rob Roy) or Irish (now called an Emerald) or bourbon (it’s still a Manhattan). We’ll get into Black Manhattans some other day, my favorite riff using amaro to replace the vermouth.

For this Manhattan, I kept it simple and used my Jack Daniel’s rye, a relatively new rye on the market. Mixed with my China China Amer, it’s very spectacular. Make sure you stir it until it’s cold! Your choice of garnish includes a lemon twist (you can spritz the oil like a Martini) or cherries. I personally prefer lemon twists but a cherry or two is also fun. Dirty Sue also makes awesome cherries. However the general consensus is Luxardo makes the best maraschino cherries.

Now that you know how to make a Martini and Manhattan, the fun really begins. You can mix it up with different gins, different vermouths and ratios! For instance, if you don’t like as much vermouth, you can always use less!

It’s not so much as a Martini versus a Manhattan. Some nights you can enjoy both!

PS- don’t shake your Martini or Manhattan. I’ll know if you did!

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