Genever Manhattan

A Dutch take on the classic Manhattan, this cocktail is made with genever, an almost-forgotten old world spirit that’s enjoying something of a comeback these days. Genever comes in two classifications: jonge (“young”) and oude (“old”), which formerly used to indicate whether or not the genever had been barrel-aged. With the rise of new distilling techniques, today these designations have less to do with aging, and more to do with the flavor of the finished product. Jonge genevers can contain “no more than” 15% malt wine and 10 grams of sugar per liter, , whereas oude genevers must contain “at least” 15% malt wine but no more than 20 grams of sugar per liter (although some modern oude genevers are still barrel-aged). Jonge genever is great-granddaddy of London dry gin, and has a neutral taste akin to voka, but with slight aromas of juniper and malt wine. Oude genever, on the other hand, has a more complex flavor profile with malty, woody, and smoky notes, akin to a whiskey (especially if it has actually been barrel-aged). This complexity makes oude genever a great stand-in for the whiskey typically called for in a Manhattan. I recommend Bols Barrel Aged Genever in this cocktail, which is aged in French oak casks for 18 months and has a round, mellow flavor, with notes of vanilla and spice (it also works well in an Old Fashioned). If you want, you can add a cherry for garnish. As shown here, I used Bada-Bing cherries, which are essentially Bing cherries that have been given the usual maraschino treatment. They’re sweeter and taste more like actual cherries, plus no weird day-glow fake red color.


  • 2 ounces oude genever
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • cherry (for garnish, optional)


Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, and strain into a chilled martini glass. If desired, garnish with a cherry, and serve.