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Wake Up Your Whiskey with this Delicious Coffee Manhattan

5 from 7 votes

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cocktail in glass with orange twist and coffee beans
Coffee Manhattan

Coffee’s a perfect match with whiskey and this Coffee Manhattan is no exception. Whether you’re building an Irish coffee to enjoy or adding a little coffee syrup to an old fashioned (see my Breakfast Old Fashioned here) it’s a combination made in heaven.

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What is a Manhattan?

A traditional Manhattan Cocktail has just three ingredients – whiskey, bitters and vermouth. While bourbon is more common in Manhattans, it’s now thought that the original Manhattan cocktails likely used rye whiskey instead of bourbon.

The ratio of whiskey to vermouth ranges from 2:1 whiskey to vermouth to 5:1 whiskey to vermouth. Bourbon and whiskey lovers will likely fight you to the death if you start proposing that your version of a Manhattan is the right one.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I want you to make cocktails that taste good to you. So feel free to tweak ratios on the cocktail’s elements or add additional flavors as needed to get the drink to a place that you enjoy.

I’ve done a number of articles on Manhattans:

If you’ve just jumped in in the middle, each week I’m doing a series of riffs on a classic whiskey cocktail. This week is the Manhattan, and I’ve already got a French Quarter Manhattan and a Chocolate-Ginger Manhattan up.

Flavors in this Coffee Manhattan Cocktail

A classic Manhattan uses sweet vermouth, but this recipe substitutes coffee liqueur and some coffee to bolster the coffee flavors. In addition I use some coffee and chocolate bitters to round out the flavors.

The coffee liqueur I’ll use for this is Patron’s XO Cafe coffee-flavored liqueur. It’s rich, sweet and bitter coffee flavors are decadent enough that you don’t need a lot of it to punch up the flavor in a cocktail. In addition, I added a smidge of actual cold brew coffee I had on hand.

cocktail in glass with orange zest and coffee beans
Coffee Manhattan

I attempted the cocktail without the sweet vermouth and with only the coffee liqueurs, but that tiny bit of vermouth did two things. First, it added just a touch of the sourness from sweet vermouth itself and secondly, it thickened the mouthfeel a bit to something closer to a true Manhattan.

What Whiskey Should I Use for this Coffee Manhattan?

Now while I did try this with both bourbon and rye, and both work well, Rittenhouse rye won here as the standout. I think any rye will wok well here, but I would still with a proof around 100 if you have it so it doesn’t have to work so hard to compete with the bitter flavors of the coffee.

Best Bitters for this Coffee Cocktail

While I did add some coffee and cocoa bitters, this would work equally well with a plain angostura or chocolate bitters.

My favorite chocolate bitters for this one is The Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters. For coffee bitters, here’s one of my favorites as well: Cocktail Kingdom Coffee Bitters.

cocktail in glass wih orange garnish

Coffee Manhattan

Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktailHeather Wibbels
Fancy up your Manhattan with a little cold brew and coffee liqueur to get that mid day pick me up. Paired with chocolate and coffee bitters, this Coffee Manhattan leans heavily on the coffee flavor profile with whiskey's vanilla notes and oak flavors strong in the finish of the drink.
5 from 7 votes
Course Drinks
Cuisine cocktail
Servings 1


  • 1.5 oz rye whiskey (Rittenhouse)
  • ½ oz coffee liqueur (I used Patron Café)
  • ½ oz sweet vermouth
  • ½ oz cold brew coffee or any cold coffee
  • 5 drops coffee and cocoa bitters
  • 1 dash Bitter Truth chocolate bitters
  • Garnish: coffee beans/orange peel


  • Combine whiskey, vermouth, coffee liqueur, coffee and bitters in a mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir until chilled and well-combined, about 30 seconds. Garnish with a few whole coffee bean and an orange peel if desired.
Keyword coffee, manhattan, quarantine cocktail, rye cocktail
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on April 9th, 2020
Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktail

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey and cocktail author (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching and designing cocktails, drinking cocktails, and teaching cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location.

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