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I had my first Manhattan at a family gathering when I was home from college for the holidays and that was the start of my love for bourbon. This holiday Manhattan spritz is a lighter version of the classic cocktail. It includes all the classic ingredients along with black cherry seltzer which means the taste of a Manhattan but with a lighter bourbon taste.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
A classic Manhattan doesn’t have many ingredients, so quality is the driving force of how good this will taste.
The full ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.
- Cherry-Flavored Seltzer Water (or Sparkling Water): If you’ve got a favorite brand see if they’ve got a cherry flavor; otherwise just use unflavored seltzer and maybe add an extra splash of cherry juice.
- Bourbon: There are a lot of great bourbons available, as any visit to a trendy liquor store will demonstrate. You don’t need a $50 bottle for this to taste good – a mainstream brand like Maker’s Mark, Bulleit, or Knob’s Creek will do just fine. Don’t substitute whiskey, like Jack Daniels, as the flavor just won’t be right.
- Black Cherry Juice: We are using high-quality, unsweetened black cherry juice that’s not from concentrate. There really aren’t too many mainstream brands out there, so it may be worth a trip to your local health food store to get the real stuff from a brand like R.W. Knudsen.
- Sweet Vermouth: There are many artisanal vermouths, and if you’re not careful you could spend more on it than bourbon. We are using the old stand-by Martini & Rossi Rosso vermouth – ‘red’ and ‘sweet’ are synonymous when shopping for this fortified wine.
How to Make a Holiday Manhattan Spritz
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: It’s easier to make these in a batch rather than individually, so adjust the recipe to the number of servings you’d like.
Holiday Manhattan Spritz: In a cocktail pitcher, add the bourbon, vermouth, black cherry juice, bitters, and ice. Stir for about 15 seconds and then using a cocktail strainer pour into the prepared glasses such as a champagne flute or mojito glass. Add the seltzer just before serving to ensure they remain effervescent. You may need to make two passes at each glass to avoid the foam from overflowing. Garnish the cocktails with cranberries, maraschino cherries, and orange peel.
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Other Cocktail Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this cocktail, we recommend checking out some of our other favorites:
Holiday Manhattan Spritz
- 1 ounce bourbon
- ½ ounce sweet (red) vermouth
- ½ ounce black cherry juice, not from concentrate
- 2 splashes Angostura bitters
- 12 ounces seltzer or sparkling water, black cherry flavored
- 2 maraschino cherries
- 2 orange twists
- Add the bourbon, vermouth, black cherry juice, and bitters to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Stir for about 15 seconds and then using a cocktail strainer pour into the prepared glasses. Top with seltzer water and garnish.