July 26, 2022

The Black Manhattan: Taste Luxury in An Easy Amaro Cocktail

This rich Manhattan variation is a must try for whiskey cocktail lovers. The dark herbal notes of amaro compliment the warm spice of whiskey perfectly.

Straining a Black Manhattan

The Black Manhattan is a variation of the classic cocktail made by swapping out the usual sweet vermouth for a rich herbal amaro.

Created by Todd Smith at Bourbon & Branch, the combination works perfectly when tied together with a few dashes of bitters and an orange twist.

Easy to make and downright delicious.

old grandad 114 bourbon

The Black Manhattan ingredients

The Black Manhattan is made with whiskey, amaro, a few dashes of orange and Angostura bitters, and a piece of orange zest for garnish.

the whiskey for a manhattan

A classic Manhattan was most commonly made with rye whiskey because its spicy kick was good for cutting through some of the sweetness from the vermouth.

The Black Manhattan is nice with either bourbon or rye, if you want a slightly sweeter and more mellow cocktail go with the bourbon. 

Whichever you choose, I think it's best to go with a bottle that is at least 50% alcohol (or 100 proof). Higher ABV whiskeys work great in stirred cocktails like this because they pack more flavor to stand up to dilution and the other ingredients. 

opening a bottle of Averna

What is Amaro Averna?

Averna is a brand of Italian Amaro (which means bitter) made by infusing alcohol with herbs, citrus, and other botanicals.

It has a rich flavor with notes of honey and dark sugar balanced by licorice, cola, and hints of barely noticeable herbs in the background. The complexity and sweetness make it a great replacement for sweet vermouth.

adding ice to a mixing glass

Amaro Averna substitues

Montenegro, Ramazotti, Nonino, or Vecchio Amaro del Capo are all good substitutions for Amaro Averna.

There are plenty of other options too, but for the Black Manhattan you will want a dark amaro with complex background flavors and a fair amount of sweetness.

garnishing a black manhattan with orange

Black Manhattan Variations

Just like with the classic Manhattan recipe you can create endless variations by experimenting with the whiskey, amaro, and bitters.

Switching between bourbon and rye can turn hints of sweetness to spice, or you could make a whole new cocktail by trying the recipe with a nice dark rum or even brandy.

Different Amari will also bring there own uniqueness like the bitter smokiness of Cynar, or light bitter citrus flavor of Aperol. Go crazy, it's your cocktail!

serving the black manhattan

Manhattan vs. Black Manhattan

The main difference between the classic Manhattan and the Black Manhattan is that the classic version is sweetened with vermouth and the black version is sweetened with an amaro.

Both cocktails use a base of whiskey, a few dashes of bitters and a garnish of orange zest, and either one is great for experimenting with.

Black Manhattan Cocktail

A Manhattan cocktail variation that uses an amaro in the place of the standard sweet vermouth for a slightly herbal whiskey cocktail.


  • 2 oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Amaro Averna
  • 2 dashes Angostura
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters - optional
  • Orange Peel for garnish - optional
  • Cocktail Cherry - optional


  • Add the liquid ingredients to a stirring glass
  • Add ice and stir until chilled, about 30 seconds
  • Strain into a chilled coupe glass or rocks glass with ice
  • Express the oils from the orange peel and drop in for garnish
  • Optionally, add a cocktail cherry to the finished drink


You can try this cocktail with just about any Amaro if you don't have Averna. Nonino, Ramazotti, and Montenegro are all great ones to start with!
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 drink
Tag me at @mydrinkinghobby when you make this!

Share this recipe

More Delicious Things!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. I used Montenegro Amaro and Evan Williams single barrel bourbon (which nice neat) but thats what I have. Really nice Manhattan.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}