What Cheese Pairs Best with a Manhattan Cocktail?

Quick Take: pair a Manhattan cocktail with a 24+ month Comte cheese

In this new cheese + cocktail pairing project, I’m combining my cocktail know-how with the encyclopedic cheese knowledge of Jennifer Greco of Chez Loulou. We’re bringing you a series of classic cocktail and cheese pairings, starting with our September recommendation:

Manhattan Cocktail & 24+ month Comte

Notes, discoveries and tips worth sharing:

-The Manhattan isn’t so easy to pair up with cheese.  In addition to our winning pick, we tried a 12 month Comte, Camembert, Bouchette (goat’s cheese), Ossau-Iraty, Trou du Cru, Saint-Nectaire, Cantal and Reblochon and none of these pairs brought much great to the table.

-We preferred the Manhattan with rye over bourbon.

All the rye Manhattans we tried worked with the 24 month Comte, including Rittenhouse 100, Woodford Reserve and Bulleit. I had a preference for the Rittenhouse 100 (probably due to its popularity/familiarity within the cocktail crowd). Jennifer preferred the Woodford reserve for its finesse.  We both found the Bulleit to be a good middle ground between taste, price and accessibility here in Paris.

-The Maple Manhattan was a surprise super versatile cocktail that played nicely with pretty much all the cheeses. It’s not always easy to pair drinks with cheese (no matter what everyone says, red doesn’t necessarily go great with every cheese).  No doubt, I will be pulling this out after a meal at a dinner party to serve with a cheese board in the future.

-We were happy with both the Luxardo Maraschino or the Fabbri Amarena cherries in the cocktails. The Luxardo may have felt a tiny bit more refined, but the Fabbri had a more intense sweet/sour punch that contrasts nicely with the cocktail. I might serve a small dish of either alongside an Ossau-Iraty for a simple one-cheese board.


60ml Rye

30ml sweet vermouth

2 healthy dashes Angostura bitters

cherry to garnish

Stir all over ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass and add a preserved cherry.

Maple Manhattan *

60ml bourbon

15ml ounce dry vermouth

15ml maple syrup, heaping

dash orange bitters

dash angostura bitters

cherry to garnish

Stir all over ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass and add a preserved cherry.

*this recipe comes from the Cypress Grove cheese site

If you’re here I already know you like cocktails. But, if you want to learn more about these or other cheeses, I recommend some time on Jennifer’s blog or signing up for one of her cheese workshops with Paris by Mouth.

Up next month: What Cheese to Pair with the Sidecar Cocktail?

About Forest Collins 376 Articles
Cocktail Expert Forest Collins is the creator of 52martinis, an online guide to the best cocktail bars in Paris and other small batch spirits news from France. We've also recently launched an app so you can keep all that bar info in your pocket!