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This unique Manhattan recipe is better than expected, and we have to give our tequila choice all the credit

This tasty Manhattan recipe isn't made with whiskey, but tequila

Drew Beamer/Unsplash

When you think of classic whiskey-based cocktails, there’s a good chance your mind goes to the old fashioned sazerac, whiskey sour, and the timeless, iconic Manhattan. The latter is a simple, elegant drink made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters (not to be confused with the old fashioned made with whiskey, bitters, water, and sugar).

To prepare a Manhattan, you add the whiskey, sweet red vermouth, and Angostura bitters to an ice-filled glass. Stir it together before straining it into a chilled cocktail glass. The drink is usually garnished with a cocktail cherry.

Like many classic mixed drinks, there’s much debate about the Manhattan’s genesis. While getting its name from the New York City borough, the drink’s origin can be traced to the Manhattan Club in New York City in the late 1800s. It’s believed that it was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall at a banquet to celebrate politician Samuel James Tilden (Governor of New York from 1875-1876). It really gained popularity in the 1940s and 50s.

Of all the ingredients, the whiskey is the key component, but one that makes for a very versatile drink. While spicy, peppery rye whiskey is most often used for this drink, bartenders and mixologists have been known to put their own spin on the traditional drink by swapping out rye whiskey for bourbon, Canadian whisky, Irish whiskey, and other whiskeys.

But while whiskey is the traditional spirit mixed into a Manhattan cocktail, the drink’s versatility goes beyond simply switching in different types of whiskeys, you can also elevate the drink by taking out the whiskey completely and swapping it out for another aged spirit. Dark rum or tequila gives this drink a whole new dimension.

Tequila specifically cranks this drink up to eleven. But an una-aged blanco or young reposado won’t work. A mature tequila is key. The roasted agave sweetness, vanilla beans, caramel, oak, and spices of a long-aged añejo or bold, complex extra añejo tequila is a perfect match for the sweet vermouth, and herbal, spicy bitters. The flavor profile is the closest thing to along-aged bourbon or rye whiskey you’re going to find.

A great example is Avión Reserva 44, an extra añejo that was matured for a full thirty-six months to give it a complex, balanced flavor profile. But simply listing a well-made tequila to mix and match into a Manhattan cocktail isn’t enough. Below, you’ll find a recipe from the folks at Tequila Avión. This recipe completely takes this drink to new heights. Not only is the whiskey swapped out for tequila, but the Angostura bitters are swapped out for mole or chocolate bitters.

Tequila Avian
Tequila Avian

Tequila Avión Manhattan


1 ½ OZ / 1 ½ PARTS Avión Reserva 44
1 OZ / 1 PART Sweet Vermouth
1 OR 2 DASHES Mole or Chocolate Bitter


Start by filling a shaker with ice cubes. Pour in 2 ounces of Avión Reserva 44 and 1 ounce of sweet vermouth. Stir for about 30 seconds until the mixture is well-chilled. Next, strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish your drink with chocolate dashes to give it that classic Manhattan appeal.

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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