This post may include affiliate links; for details, see our disclosure policy.

The Brandy Manhattan is a sophisticated spin on the classic cocktail recipe using brandy or Cognac! It’s even better than the original.

Brandy Manhattan

Looking for a sophisticated spin on the Manhattan? Try the Brandy Manhattan! If you’ve got a bottle of Cognac or brandy, this is the drink for you. Brandy is sweeter than whiskey, with fruity, floral and citrus notes. So brandy makes for a sweeter, more complex and even more exciting Manhattan cocktail, in our opinion. Here’s how to make it, and a few more ideas on Manhattan variations.

What’s in a Brandy Manhattan?

The Manhattan is a classic cocktail made with whiskey, vermouth, and cocktail bitters, invented in the 1870’s. It’s stood the test of time and remains one of the most popular cocktails today! The story goes that the drink was invented at a club called The Manhattan Club in New York City. The official definition of this classic cocktail on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails includes rye whiskey. This Brandy Manhattan recipe simply swaps out rye for brandy. The ingredients you need are:

  • Brandy or Cognac
  • Sweet red vermouth
  • Angostura bitters
  • Luxardo cherry for the garnish
Brandy Manhattan

Best brandy for a Manhattan

You can use most types of brandy for Brandy Manhattan, but there are a few clear front runners. Here are the types of brandy to use, in order of preference:

  • Cognac: The top choice! Cognac is French brandy that tastes spicy, fruity, and bitter, with notes of vanilla and oak.
  • Armagnac: This full-flavored French brandy also works; it has notes of dark caramel, chocolate and burnt orange
  • American brandy: Any type of brandy made in the US works as well.
  • Calvados: This apple or pear brandy made in France also works; the more delicate flavor notes make a unique drink
  • Brandy de Jerez, Spanish brandy can also work: the flavor is dry and smooth, with notes of caramel, almond and vanilla.

What not to use? Steer away from Pisco, a Peruvian brandy made of fermented grapes with a funky, earthy flavor. Save it for a Pisco Sour.

All about vermouth

The other component in a Brandy Manhattan recipe? The sweet vermouth! What is vermouth? It’s is a fortified wine, meaning that liquor has been added to the wine (usually brandy). There are two main types of vermouth: sweet (usually red) and dry (usually white).

  • Sweet vermouth is subtly sweet and spicy. It’s used in many classic cocktails: most famously the Manhattan and Negroni.
  • Dry white vermouth is very dry, with a bitter finish. It’s used in martinis like the Classic Martini or Dirty Martini.

Storage tip: Make sure to store vermouth in the refrigerator! It stays good for up to 3 months.

Brandy Manhattan recipe

Top with a Luxardo cherry

The classic garnish for a Manhattan is not just any cocktail cherry: it’s a Luxardo cherry. This type of cherry is so dark red, it almost looks black. It has a much different flavor from the classic cocktail cherry: it’s complex, fruity, and nutty almost like amaretto. Add this to the top of a Brandy Manhattan, and it makes the drink! You can find Luxardo cherries online or at your local liquor store.

How to make a Brandy Manhattan

This Brandy Manhattan recipe is very easy to make: you don’t even need a cocktail shaker! It’s a classic “stirred” cocktail, meaning it’s stirred in a cocktail mixing glass. Here’s what to do:

  • Stir the brandy, vermouth and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass. Using a cocktail shaker would dilute the drink too much. Spirit forward cocktails like a Manhattan or Martini use a cocktail glass.
  • Don’t have one? Use any glass or container you like to mix the drink, then strain it into the serving glass! Or if you want to look like someone who knows their cocktails, grab yourself a cocktail mixing glass.

Types of Manhattans

If you’re a lover of the Manhattan, there are lots of ways to mix up this drink! Here are our favorites types of Manhattans:

Brandy Manhattan
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

The Brandy Manhattan

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


The Brandy Manhattan is a sophisticated spin on the classic cocktail recipe using brandy or Cognac! It’s even better than the original. 


  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) brandy or Cognac
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) sweet red vermouth
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Garnish: Luxardo cherry and lemon peel


  1. Combine the brandy, vermouth and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass (or any other type of glass). Fill the mixing glass with 1 handful ice and stir continuously for 30 seconds.
  2. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry and serve.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Brandy Manhattan, Brandy Manhattan recipe

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.