How much sugar is in Manhattan cocktail?

The Manhattan cocktail is a classic whiskey drink that has been around since the 1800s. It’s made with rye or bourbon whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. But with its sweet vermouth ingredient, some may wonder – how much sugar is actually in a Manhattan cocktail?

Quick Answer

On average, a standard 2 oz Manhattan cocktail contains about 2-3 grams of sugar. This is based on using 1 oz 80 proof rye whiskey, 1 oz sweet vermouth, and a couple dashes of Angostura bitters. However, the exact sugar content can vary depending on the specific ingredients used.

Ingredients Breakdown

To determine how much sugar is in a Manhattan, we need to look at the main ingredients that contribute sugar:

Sweet Vermouth

Sweet vermouth typically contains about 11 grams of sugar per ounce on average. So a 1 oz portion would have around 11 grams of sugar.


Whiskeys like rye or bourbon do not contain any sugar. The fermentation and distillation process converts the natural sugars in grains like rye and corn completely into alcohol.


Angostura bitters contains trace amounts of sugar, around 0.5 grams per dash. A Manhattan usually calls for 2-3 dashes.

Cherry Garnish

The traditional cherry garnish adds minimal sugar, around 1 gram. Maraschino cherries are often used which are packed in a sweetened syrup.

Given these standard ingredients and amounts, we can estimate the total sugar content:

Ingredient Amount Sugar Per Amount Total Sugar
Sweet vermouth 1 oz 11 grams 11 grams
Rye whiskey 1 oz 0 grams 0 grams
Bitters 2-3 dashes ~0.5 grams per dash 1-1.5 grams
Cherry garnish 1 ~1 gram 1 gram
Totals 13-14 grams

Based on these typical amounts of the standard ingredients, a Manhattan can contain around 13-14 grams of sugar per cocktail. But this may vary slightly depending on specific brands used.

Factors that Increase or Decrease Sugar Content

There are some factors that can result in a Manhattan having more or less sugar:

  • Vermouth Sweetness Level – Sweet Italian vermouth tends to be sweeter than French vermouths. Using a brand with more residual sugar could increase the sugar content per ounce.
  • Whiskey Proof – Lower proof whiskey contains slightly more residual sugar than higher proofs. So an 80 proof whiskey would contribute less than a 70 proof.
  • More Bitters – Adding extra dashes of bitters would provide slightly more sugar.
  • More Cherries – Additional cherries or using a brand with sweeter syrup would add more sugar grams.
  • Larger Size – Making a Manhattan with more than the standard 2 oz of whiskey and 1 oz of vermouth increases overall sugar proportionally.

On the flip side, factors like using extra dry vermouth or whiskey with higher proof would lower the total sugar content by a couple grams. Using a natural maraschino cherry instead of syrup-packed would also decrease the total amount.

Sugar Content in a Standard 2 oz Manhattan

To summarize, in a typical 2 ounce Manhattan cocktail made with common ingredients:

  • There are about 13-14 grams of sugar total
  • Around 11 grams comes from 1 oz of sweet vermouth
  • Whiskey and bitters provide negligible sugars
  • The cherry garnish contributes 1-2 grams

This lines up with a standard Manhattan containing around 2-3 teaspoons of sugar, assuming 4 grams per teaspoon. The sweet vermouth is the primary source of sugar. Variables like vermouth sweetness, whiskey proof, and garnish can slightly increase or decrease the total sugar content.

How Much Sugar is Recommended Per Day

Now that we know about how much sugar is in one Manhattan cocktail, how does this fit into the context of daily recommended sugar intake?

Health organizations like the American Heart Association recommend the following limits on added sugars:

  • Men: No more than 150 calories per day from added sugars (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams)
  • Women: No more than 100 calories per day from added sugars (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams)

The 13-14 grams of sugar in a Manhattan would equal approximately:

  • Men – about 40% of the daily recommended limit
  • Women – about 60% of the daily recommended limit

So a single Manhattan contains quite a high amount of added sugar relative to the total daily recommendations. Having more than one per day would exceed the limits for men and women.

Of course, this is just one cocktail out of everything a person may consume in a day. But it’s helpful to understand a Manhattan represents a significant source of added sugars.

Strategies to Reduce Sugar in a Manhattan

If you want to enjoy a Manhattan but reduce the sugar content, here are some tips:

  • Use extra dry vermouth – Has up to 4 grams less sugar per ounce compared to sweet vermouth
  • Add a splash of club soda or seltzer – Helps dilute the sweetness
  • Use whiskey with higher proof – Minimizes residual sugars
  • Go easy on the bitters – Stick to just 2-3 dashes
  • Garnish with a lemon twist instead of cherry

With these kinds of modifications, you may be able to bring the total sugar content down to around 6-8 grams. That makes it a lower sugar cocktail option while still keeping the classic Manhattan flavor.

How Manhattan Sugar Content Compares to Other Cocktails

Compared to other popular cocktails, a Manhattan has medium to high levels of sugar:

Cocktail Total Sugar (grams)
Manhattan 13-14
Margarita 15-30
Mojito 30-40
Cosmopolitan 20-25
Negroni 10-15
Dry Martini 0
Old Fashioned 8-10

Drinks like margaritas, mojitos, and cosmos tend to be higher in sugar due to ingredients like orange liqueur, soda, and fruit juices. A Manhattan falls around the middle – more than a dry cocktail like a martini but less than a sugar-packed margarita.

Manhattan Sugar Content vs. Glass of Wine or Beer

It can also be useful to compare a Manhattan’s sugar to a glass of wine or beer. Here is how they generally stack up:

  • Manhattan (2 oz) – 13-14 grams sugar
  • Glass of Dry Red Wine (5 oz) – 3-5 grams sugar
  • Glass of Sweet White Wine (5 oz) – 7-10 grams sugar
  • Light Beer (12 oz) – 5-10 grams sugar
  • Craft Beer (12 oz) – 10-20 grams sugar

A Manhattan contains more total sugar than a standard serving of dry wine or light beer. However, sweet wine and craft beer can have comparable amounts to a Manhattan depending on brand and ingredients.

Putting Manhattan Sugar Content in Context

When enjoying cocktails in moderation, the sugar content may not be too concerning. But it’s helpful to understand how the 13-14 grams of sugar in a Manhattan cocktail stacks up:

  • It’s 40-60% of the daily recommended limit for added sugars
  • It’s a medium-high amount compared to other mixed drinks
  • It’s higher than a glass of dry wine or light beer

Being aware of these sugar levels can help you make informed choices when it comes to your favorite cocktails. If you’re conscious of added sugars for health reasons, there are also ways to adjust a Manhattan recipe to reduce the total sugar content.

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