This Man O’ War cocktail is a delicious and classic drink made with a blend of bourbon, Grand Marnier, sweet vermouth, and lemon juice. It’s perfect for any bourbon lover who enjoy a balance of sweet and sour flavors.
If you enjoyed this cocktail, you’ll definitely want to try out some of my other delicious cocktail recipes! The Paper Plane has a bourbon base but is still a refreshing and citrusy option, while the Smoked Cinnamon Stick Manhattan adds a unique smoky twist to the classic Manhattan. And for those who love a flavorful and fruity drink, the Cherry Whiskey Sour and the Peach Bourbon Smash are a must-try!
And, for those that love orange liqueur-based drinks, a White Lady is another one to check out. So, gather your ingredients and get ready to explore the world of mixology with these tasty drink recipes.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Perfect balance of sweet and sour: It is an expertly balanced drink that perfectly blends bourbon whiskey with the sweetness of Grand Marnier and vermouth finished with the tanginess of lemon juice. The flavor is almost like a cross between a Manhattan and a Bourbon Sidecar.
- Simple to make: Despite its complex flavor, the Man O’ War cocktail is surprisingly simple to make. With just a few basic ingredients and a shaker, you can whip up this tasty drink in no time.
- Perfect for any occasion: It is a versatile drink that can be enjoyed in any setting, from a casual night at home to a fancy cocktail party. Its sophisticated flavor and classic appeal make the cocktail a great choice for any occasion.
What is a Man O’ War Cocktail?
The Man O’ War cocktail is a classic cocktail made with bourbon whiskey, orange liqueur, sweet vermouth, and lemon juice. This version has a similar well-balanced flavor profile to the original, but blends the sweetness of Grand Marnier and vermouth with tangy lemon and smooth Kentucky bourbon.
It is typically served in a martini glass with a lemon twist and a maraschino cherry for garnish. It’s a popular choice among bourbon enthusiasts.
As with many of the famous drinks throughout history, the origin of the Man O’ War cocktail is somewhat unclear, as there are several different stories about its creation. One theory suggests that it was named after the famed thoroughbred racehorse Man o’ War, who was considered one of the greatest racehorses of all time.
Thus a Man O’ War Cocktail, along with a classic Mint Julep and a modern Kentucky Mule all make for a great Derby day drink. Regardless of its origin, the Man O’ War cocktail has become a beloved classic and is still enjoyed by drink enthusiasts around the world.
Bourbon whiskey: The cocktail has a base of bourbon that provides a rich, smooth flavor profile to the drink. Make sure to buy a bourbon whiskey that you like the taste of straight since this is a very spirit-forward drink – the drink will only be as good as your ingredients. Spring for the good stuff, if you can.
Grand Marnier: This orange liqueur adds sweet and citrusy notes. Often, Cointreau (a type of triple sec) is used in a Man O’ War Cocktail, but being that Grand Marnier is brandy-based its complex flavor pairs perfectly with the bourbon.
Sweet vermouth: Vermouth is a fortified wine that adds herbal and floral notes. The sweet vermouth used in this recipe provides a smooth sweetness and gives the appeal of a Manhattan.
Lemon juice: The tartness of the fresh lemon juice provides a sharp and sour note to the drink, balancing out the sweetness of the other ingredients. Using freshly squeezed lemon juice tastes far superior in cocktails compared to juice from concentrate.
Lemon peel and a maraschino cherry for garnish: A lemon twist and a maraschino cherry (I highly recommend Luxardo maraschino cherries) are used to garnish the cocktail, adding an aesthetic appeal to the drink. The lemon twist provides a fresh citrus aroma while the cherry gives a sweet and fruity note to the overall taste. An orange peel would also work well for a garnish.
Steps 1 and 2: Add the bourbon whiskey, Grand Marnier, sweet vermouth, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker.
Steps 3 and 4: Add ice cubes to the shaker and shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass, such as a coupe glass.
Step 5: Garnish with a lemon twist and cherry.
Tips and Variations
- Try serving in a chilled glass. Simply, chill your glass in the freezer or refrigerator before pouring the cocktail. This will help to keep the drink at the perfect temperature and enhance the overall drinking experience.
- If you prefer sweeter drinks, feel free to add a dash of simple syrup, maple syrup, or even some Luxardo maraschino cherry syrup.
- For a more tart beverage, you can increase the lemon juice a bit.
- For more complex bitter notes, adding a few dashes of regular Angostura bitters or orange bitters would be a great addition.
What is Grand Marnier?
Grand Marnier is a French orange-flavored liqueur made from a blend of cognac, bitter orange, and sugar. It has a rich, smooth texture, and a sweet taste, and is commonly used in cocktails and desserts.
What kind of sweet vermouth would go best with a Man O’ War cocktail?
Some popular, high quality vermouth options include Carpano Antica Formula, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Dolin Rouge, and Punt e Mes. These options have a complex flavor profile that includes herbal and floral notes, with a balanced sweetness that complements the other flavors in the drink.
Ultimately, the best sweet vermouth for a Man O’ War cocktail depends on personal taste preferences, so it’s a good idea to experiment with different brands to find the one that you like best.
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Man O’ War Cocktail Recipe
- 1 ½ ounces bourbon whiskey
- 1 ounce Grand Marnier
- ½ ounce sweet vermouth
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- Lemon twist and/or cocktail cherry for garnish (optional)
- Add the bourbon, Grand Marnier, sweet vermouth, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker.
- Add ice and shake until well chilled.
- Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish, if desired.
- Chill your glass in the freezer or refrigerator before pouring the cocktail. This will help to keep the drink at the perfect temperature and enhance the overall drinking experience.
- If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, feel free to add a dash of your favorite type of syrup.
- For a more tart cocktail, you can increase the lemon juice amount.
- For more complex bitter notes, add a few dashes of your favorite bitters.