Summertime screams peaches to me, so why not take advantage of that with this delicious and refreshing spirit-forward summer cocktail: the Peach Manhattan. As a stone fruit, peach is one of the many flavors found in the nose and taste of great bourbons. It’s not as common as brown sugar or caramel, but some whiskeys regularly have apricot, peach, and other stone fruit notes in them. I’ve added peach flavors to sours and juleps before, but I had overlooked peach in the Manhattan, and it’s time to rectify that.
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About the Manhattan
The Manhattan is a cocktail that dates back to 1870s or 1880s and was developed and made famous in Manhattan at a place called the Manhattan Club. It has three main elements, spirit, vermouth, and bitters. The original ratios were likely closer to 1:1 – half vermouth and half whiskey. It’s long been a whiskey classic and every whiskey lover has a ratio and ingredient preference they build with.
The classic Manhattan build is 2 ounces of bourbon or rye, 1 oz of sweet vermouth, and a dash or two of Angostura bitters. Others prefer 2 ½ oz bourbon to ½ oz of sweet vermouth, but finding and perfecting the ingredients you’re using for your preferred Manhattan is part of the fun experiment of learning the Manhattan cocktail.
To learn more about the history and basic elements of a Manhattan go to How to Make a Classic Manhattan Cocktail.
Flavors in a Peach Manhattan
There are many peach whiskeys available, and by and large, most of them taste highly artificial. I generally lean toward GIffard’s Crème de Pêche de Vigne in my cocktails. It’s got a brilliant fresh peach flavor that melds well with other spirits and doesn’t taste artificial. It tastes concentrated, but not artificial.
Peach schnapps can be used, but find a high-quality peach brandy or schnapps to make this, or use the Giffard above. If you’re looking for a whiskey-based peach spirit, try Alpine Distilling’s Lafette Stone Fruit Whiskey. It has some slight notes of cinnamon, but I detect far more peach, vanilla, and baking spices as I sip on it. It is delicious and perfect for this build of a fruity Manhattan cocktail.
For the bourbon, I used a lighter, wheated bourbon. That made a little of the toast/wheat taste to come through to remind me of a peach cobbler or peach preserves on a hot biscuit. Depending on how “loud” your peach liqueur is, dial up the proof or use more aggressive whiskey and still let the peach notes shine in the cocktail.
I tried two different bitters in this cocktail. First I used Hella Bitters Apple Blossom bitters which accentuated the cinnamon notes and baking spices notes. In the second iteration, I used Bittermens Elemakule Tiki bitters which gave it more clove, allspice and baking spice notes.
In addition, instead of using sweet vermouth found in a classic (because the peach liqueur/whiskey is very sweet), I used dry vermouth – the kind used in a classic martini. This is a matter of preference, however.
If you prefer sweeter cocktails and love the bold flavors of sweet vermouth in your classic Manhattan, split the difference between the sweet and dry vermouth. This creates a sweeter drink and puts the cocktail in the Perfect Manhattan camp (with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth).
How to Make a Peach Manhattan
As a riff on a Manhattan, this peach cocktail only requires a mixing glass, ice, and a bar spoon or stirrer to make.
To build the drink, add the ingredients, the whiskey, dry vermouth and bitters, to the mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until well diluted and chilled, about 30 seconds, and then pour into a chilled coupe or martini glass.
For a garnish, use a fresh slice of peach or a regular cocktail cherry will do as a substitute.
Other Cocktails You Might Enjoy
- Rosemary Peach Whiskey Sour
- Lavender Peach Old Fashioned
- Apple Manhattan
- Aperol Manhattan
- Best Manhattan Variation
- 12 Fun Manhattan Cocktails
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Recommended Bar Tools
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You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:
- 1 oz Lafayette Stonefruit Whiskey by Alpine Distilling
- 1 oz wheated bourbon
- 1 oz dry vermouth
- 1 dash Hella Bitters Apple Blossom bitters, Bourbon Barrel Foods Smoked Cinnamon bitters or Bittermens Tiki bitters
- Garnish: peach slice
- Add ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice.
- Stir for 30 seconds, or until well-chilled.
- Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass.
- Garnish with peach slice or cocktail cherry.