Salt & Wind Travel

The Man O’ War Cocktail

File this Man O’ War Cocktail recipe under “bourbon cocktails every home bartender should know.” The Man O’ War is an easy bourbon cocktail recipe beloved by those who know it and very much unknown by those who don’t. 

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Often overshadowed by the more mainstream classic bourbon cocktails – like the Old Fashioned, the Whiskey Sour, or the Kentucky Mule — the Man O’ War Cocktail cocktail is one of those that you’ll make once and then put on repeat. It’s a bourbon cocktail that’s flavorful enough to stand on its own but food-friendly enough to pair with anything from a cocktail party to Thanksgiving.

Man O War Cocktail Recipe

What Is The Man O’ War Cocktail?

The Man O’War cocktail is named after one of the greatest race horses. Like the bourbon used in his namesake cocktail, Man O’ War was from Kentucky. 

Man O War was a serious horse racing legend, winning 20 of 21 races, including the prestigious Preakness and Belmont stakes in 1920. He likely would’ve won the elusive Triple Crown, but his owner never let him run it. Another fun racing fact: the other uber-famous racehorse, Secretariat, was a relative!

Because the Kentucky Derby is one of the greatest horse races ever, some purists would claim this cocktail should only be made with Kentucky bourbon and served on Derby Day.

Man O War Cocktail On A Table

Man O’ War Cocktail Ingredients

The ingredients needed to make this cocktail are:

  • Ice Cubes
  • Good-quality bourbon
  • Orange liqueur
  • Sweet Vermouth
  • Lemon Juice
  • Brandied Cherry
  • Lemon Peel

How To Make The Man O’ War Cocktail

To make the classic Man O’War cocktail recipe, Bourbon, sweet vermouth, orange liqueur, simple syrup, and lemon are shaken together, then strained and served straight up in a cocktail glass.

It’s a fabulous drink when made that way, but we have made a slight tweak over the year. We like to nix the simple syrup and double up on the orange liqueur, so it’s a little less sweet and has a more citrus flavor. We sometimes mix it up by making it with high-quality Japanese whiskey or rye. Try it each way and decide your personal preference.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Man o' War cocktail is a classic bourbon-based drink, named after the famous racehorse. It's a blend of bourbon whiskey, orange liqueur, sweet vermouth, and lemon juice, creating a balanced mix of sweet and citrus flavors. It's known for its balanced blend of citrus and sweet flavors, making it a popular choice among bourbon enthusiasts

To make a Man o' War cocktail, mix bourbon, orange curaçao or triple sec, 1/2 sweet vermouth, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel for added aroma and flavor.

The Man o' War cocktail pairs well with a variety of foods. Its bourbon base complements rich, savory dishes like grilled steak or barbecue. The citrus notes make it a good match for lighter fare like seafood or citrus-based salads.

Tips To Make A Great Man O’ War Cocktail

Regardless of how you have it, there are a few key tips to help you shake up bourbon cocktail perfection:

  • Use Great Quality Ice: You know that saying “garbage in, garbage out?” That applies to ice too. Use the best quality filtered water for your ice so you don’t have off-flavors in the final drink.
  • Choose A Quality Vermouth: Somewhere in the history of home bars, it became okay to use subpar vermouth. As you know, we like to do like the Spanish and the Italians and have our vermouth straight or in a variety of vermouth cocktail recipes, so we’re always stocked with the good stuff. Try this cocktail with Carpano Antica to see what we mean.
  • Use Freshly-Squeezed Lemon Juice: Please don’t ever use the bottled stuff in any of our recipes — that extra 15 seconds it takes to squeeze fresh juice makes the drink 15 times better!

A Few Of Our Other Favorite Bourbon Cocktails

Once you’ve added this delicious drink to your bar repertoire, you may search for another bourbon cocktail. Here are more than five other of our favorite bourbon cocktails:

If you need to up your home bar, check out our bar essentials, mix this up, and share the results with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social! 

Man O War Cocktail Recipe

The Man O' War Cocktail Recipe

Bourbon, sweet vermouth, orange liqueur, and lemon get shaken together in this classic Kentucky cocktail, The Man O' War.
4.8 from 50 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 serving
Calories 200 kcal


For The Man O' War Cocktail:

  • ice cubes for chilling the glass and for the shaker
  • 1 1/2 ounces good-quality bourbon

    or your favorite rye whiskey

  • 1 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

For Garnish:

  • Brandied cherry
  • Lemon peel


  • Chill The Glass: Fill a coupe glass with ice and water and set aside.
  • Make The Man O' War Cocktail: Add the bourbon (or rye or whiskey), Cointreau, sweet vermouth, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker. Fill halfway with ice.
    Close and shake until it is thoroughly chilled (almost too cold to touch), at least 20 seconds. Taste and add more lemon if you want it more tart or more Cointreau if you want it sweeter.
  • Serve The Man O' War Cocktail: Dump the ice water from the coupe glass. Strain the cocktail into the glass. Spear a brandied cherries and a bit of lemon peel onto a few cocktail toothpicks and garnish the glass. Serve.



Serving: 1gCalories: 200kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 0.1gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.04gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.03gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 3mgPotassium: 24mgFiber: 0.04gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 1mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword Classic cocktail
Tried this recipe?Mention @saltandwind or tag #swsociety!

Travel Planning Resources

This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to our privacy policy.

About The Author
4.80 from 50 votes (50 ratings without comment)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


We'll help you taste Italy Mexico California Hawaii Mexico France Spain the world

We specialize in food-focused experiences in the most interesting culinary regions of the world.

We host unique small group trips to California, Italy, and Mexico from Sicily to Oaxaca.

Our tailored-to-you trip planning services help you make the most of your trip.