Your New Favorite Bourbon Drink
This may be a classic cocktail that you’ve never heard of before. What is it named after? Definitely not the terrifying blue sea blob that resides in the ocean. This drink needs to actually make people want to try it, so it’s named after one of the greatest racing horses of all time … Man O’ War. Didn’t see that coming, did ya? 😉
But really, he was a Kentucky thoroughbred who won 20 of 21 races. Surprisingly, he never ran in the Kentucky Derby, but he did win the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes in 1920. His owner decided not to let him run in the Derby due to inclement weather, but we can probably assume what would have happened if he did run. (Hint: he would have won.)
So, anyway. This is a super boozy drink that you’re going to love. Because it tastes like winning.
What does a Man O’ War taste like?
Heaven. But really, it’s a variation a Manhattan, which means it’s boozy and full of bourbon. This cocktail has more balance because of the acidity from the lemon juice, and a little more depth because of Luxardo Cherry syrup.
What ingredients do I need for a Man O’War Cocktail?
- Bourbon (use your favorite! I love Buffalo Trace or Four Roses Bourbon, OR Templeton Rye Whiskey if you want an easy-to-find recommendation)
- Cointreau (or orange liqueur / triple sec)
- Sweet Vermouth (such as Carpano Antica, but any will do!)
- Freshly squeeze lemon juice (only freshly squeezed)
- Luxardo Maraschino Cherries AND a touch of the cherry syrup. (NOT the bright red ones. The dark, rich, juicy ones.)*
*Luxardo Maraschino Cherry syrup is not a part of the original cocktail, but it is a twist that we use for our version of the recipe! For a traditional Man O’ War cocktail, omit the cherry syrup. Still use the cherries as garnish though.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of using the right cherries for this drink. Have you ever had a Cherry Limeade from Sonic? You do NOT want those cherries. If they are a fake, bright red, then they are not for this drink. Here is a link to the cherries you want to look for. They’re much darker in color, they sit in a jar of thick, rich cherry syrup, and they’re so delicious. You can also look for brandied cherries or amarena cherries.
And while I’m up here on my high horse, please use freshly squeezed lemon juice, too! 🙂
What other Bourbon Drinks can I try?
Oh, I have a couple of fun bourbon cocktails up my sleeve:
- Grilled Peach + Bourbon Cocktail
- Blackberry, Thyme, and Lemon Bourbon Cocktail
- Blackberry Bourbon Smash
- Spiced Pear Bourbon Cocktail
- Holiday Spiced Old Fashioneds
What Bourbon should I use in a Man O’ War Cocktail?
I love to use Buffalo Trace or Four Roses if we are sticking with bourbon. If you like rye, I suggest Templeton Rye! If you’re in Kansas City and looking for a good recommendation on whiskey, I’ve made a couple of these with West Bottoms Whiskey and it’s great. (Those styles of bourbon / whiskey are all over the place, so use your favorite bourbon or whiskey and you should love the Man O’ War Cocktail!)
Also, I usually like to make recipes for two cocktails, but I really think this is better when made one at a time.
I hope you love this cocktail! If you want to make it as a traditional Man O’ War, just omit the cherry juice. Also, if you try it and love it, I would so appreciate a comment and rating below! You can also tag #aflavorjournal on Instagram if you post a photo. 🙂 If you have any questions at all, feel free to email me so I can help!
Man O' War Bourbon Cocktail
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 1/2 ounce Cointreau*
- 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth**
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce cherry juice***
- 2 Luxardo, Brandied, or Amarena Cherries for garnish
- Combine all liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and stir with bar spoon until very chilled, about 30 seconds.
- Add a large sphere or square ice cube to an old fashioned glass. Strain the cocktail over the ice, then garnish with two cherries. Alternatively, strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe glass without ice, and garnish with two cherries.