Gluten Free Manhattan Cupcakes recipe

Gluten Free Manhattan Cupcakes Recipe

If you are a regular blog reader of mine you may know that I have a slight obsession with gluten-free cupcakes. What you may not know is that I also have an obsession with cocktail parties. It’s not that I throw a lot of cocktail parties or even attend a lot of them; it’s just that I am obsessed with designing the perfect cocktail party. I literally dream about it, even when I am wide awake.

I think my obsession started as a young girl. My parents actually had cocktail parties. People would come over to our house all dressed up and glitzy and they would stand around looking so elegant with cocktails in their hands, talking, laughing and exuding an air of sophistication and glamour. My sisters and I had been scrubbed clean and dressed to look like perfect children and paraded out to greet their guests before retiring for the evening. We made our entrances, politely said hello, shaking hands with the gentlemen and curtsying to the women (I am not kidding!) and then were banished to our bedrooms for the rest of the night. Occasionally I would sneak back into the living room and swipe the maraschino cherries or olives from the cocktail glasses that had been discarded and weave through the crowd unnoticed. (I had learned that if I waited until everyone had a cocktail or two it was much easier to escape attention.) Everything seemed so twinkly and fabulous and magical.

The cocktail party of my dreams goes something like this – The setting is a huge New York loft overlooking Central Park on a brisk autumn evening. There is an unobtrusive piano player at the lacquered black grand piano in the corner playing old standards. As the party progresses, some of the guests will join the piano player and sing along. Somehow everyone knows the words and sings on key. My guest list includes the casts from Mad Men, Sex and The City and Oceans Eleven, Hugh Jackman, all my friends and you of course. Everyone is all dressed in a dazzling array of the latest couture. I myself am dressed in a vintage Dior little black dress, elegantly understated diamonds and Louboutin shoes that do not hurt my feet (it’s my dream after all!). The drinks are classic cocktails like manhattans and martinis – no light beer or Chardonnay! And then there is the food. Tuxedo clad waiters (all Brad Pitt look-alikes of course) expertly weave through the crowd offering trays filled with delectable bite sized finger food, both gorgeous and delicious. A buffet is set up with beautiful mini gluten-free desserts. Everyone is laughing and talking and the room literally buzzes with excitement.

While my dream cocktail party is presently destined to remain just that – a dream – we are rushing headlong into the entertaining season and cocktail parties are a great way to entertain a large group of people with less effort than a dinner party.

I seem to have also developed an obsession for turning cocktails into gluten-free cupcakes with my Irish Coffee Cupcakes and Shirley Temple Cupcakes. For my next cocktail party I decided to turn the classic cocktail the Manhattan into gluten-free cupcakes. These for-adults-only Manhattan Cupcakes are not too sweet and the frosting has a warm boozy hit that puts a smile on your face. The bourbon and sweet vermouth just balance the sugar and butter out creating a seriously grown up dessert. Mini cupcakes are, in my opinion, perfect cocktail party fare but if you prefer a large cupcake the recipe will make half the amount of standard sized cupcakes, just bake then about 5 minutes longer.

You can replace the flours, starches and xanthan gum with 2 cups of a really good all purpose gluten free flour blend if you prefer.


5 from 1 vote
Gluten Free Manhattan Cupcakes recipe
Print Recipe

Gluten Free Manhattan Cupcakes Recipe

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 48 mini cupcakes
Calories: 95kcal
Author: Gluten Free & More



  • 1 cup superfine white rice flour
  • 1/3 cup superfine sweet rice flour
  • 1/3 cup millet flour
  • 1/3 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1 juicy, medium sized orange)
  • ½ cup half-and-half or milk , at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoon bourbon whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon sweet vermouth
  • ½ cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs , at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from 1 medium sized orange)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 average sized lemon)


  • ½ cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Large pinch of kosher or fine sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon sweet vermouth
  • 48 maraschino cherries with stems , drained and patted dry



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Insert mini cupcake papers into 48 mini muffin tins.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the white rice flour, sweet rice flour, millet flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In a small mixing bowl combine the orange juice, half and half or milk, bourbon and sweet vermouth. It may look a little curdled, this is fine.
  • In an electric mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, blending well and scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the orange and lemon zest and mix well. Turn the mixer to low and add a third of the flour mixture, then half the orange juice mixture, half the remaining flour mixture, the rest of the orange juice mixture and finally the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. With a spatula, scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl to ensure all the ingredients are combined.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling about ¾ full. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. While the cupcakes cool make the frosting.


  • In a mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Sift in the confectioners’ sugar, add the salt and mix on low to combine. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl then add the bourbon and vermouth. Mix on medium speed to combine. Pipe or dollop the frosting on the cooled cupcakes and top each with a maraschino cherry.


Nutrition Facts
Gluten Free Manhattan Cupcakes Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 95 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 3g15%
Cholesterol 18mg6%
Sodium 51mg2%
Potassium 26mg1%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 142IU3%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 13mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owner’s. This blog accepts free manufacturers’ samples and forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. Affiliate links may be included in this post.

Disclaimer: All nutrition facts on Gluten Free & More are meant only as a guide and may differ depending on product brands used or ingredient substitutions. Some errors may occur, so you are encouraged to confirm the recipe’s ingredient and nutrition suitability for your own diet.
Have you tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and let us know your thoughts in the Ratings & Reviews section below.
Tags: Bourbon Celiac Cherries Gluten-Free Gluten-Free Recipes Manhattan Maraschino Cherries Party Vermouth
  1. Jeanine
    November 5, 2010

    Carol, your dream cocktail party sounds fantastic! especially all the Brad Pitt look alike waiters. ;)
    You make cupcakes look good!

  2. Kristina @ spabettie
    November 5, 2010

    Brad Pitt must be on our minds – my post today asks a random Brad Pitt question… :D

    your cocktail party sounds divine… and so do these creative cupcakes!!

  3. Donna
    November 5, 2010

    Don't know what excites me more – the vintage Dior, Brad Pitt waiters or the cupcakes – hard to pick just one, so I'll take it all :)

  4. Anonymous
    November 5, 2010

    OH my gosh, you must be my sister. My parents would do the same thing! And my brothers would get me to go out and swipe the goodies (and, they were a little bit older, some of the glasses that weren't empty yet!!) Wow I hadn't thought of those days for a long time.

  5. Heather Jacobsen
    November 5, 2010

    I love both Manhattans and Martinis! Seriously, those are pretty much the only two cocktails that I drink, when I am not drinking wine or (gluten-free) beer! I really hope your cocktail party dream comes true, and that I get to be a guest (or at the very least, a fly on the wall!)

  6. The Celiac Husband
    November 5, 2010

    Brilliant Post!

    Neva mind da Cupcakes……it's the party I love!

  7. Maggie
    November 6, 2010

    Brad Pitt look alikes? NYC loft? I am so there Carol! Sounds like the perfect party. Your picture is perfect!

  8. Denise Michaels - Adventurous Foodie
    November 6, 2010

    Love the story about being trotted out in front of your parents party guests. I remember the same kind of thing – though I don't ever remember being asked to curtsy. *smile*

    I remember we were sent upstairs early – but we got to watch TV in Mom and Dad's room and sometimes we'd look out over the staircase down in the living room.

    My Mom always pulled out her fancy party recipes she never cooked any other time. We always got to try a little taste before the party guests arrived.

  9. The InTolerant Chef
    November 6, 2010

    My parents would do the same to my sisters and I at dinner parties. They would entertain a lot of fancypants military types from abroad and wanted to show them a home cooked mealfrom Australia. What they got was food extravaganza! Us kids would be dressed alike and have to hand around the platters of food and be perfect little ambassadors for our country (and our parents!)

  10. Kim - Cook It Allergy Free
    November 9, 2010

    When I was growing up, my Dad would make himself and my Mom a Manhattan EVERY single evening when he got home from the office. I loved the way they smelled and actually enjoyed sitting there watching him make them. Now that he has passed away, something about Manhattan's hold a special place in my heart. I want to be a part of this dream cocktail party. I would have a Manhattan in one hand and one of these cupcakes in another!

  11. May 12, 2011

    So, I hope this doesn’t make me a terrible person … but do you have any idea how to make this NON-gluten free? I was going to make an attempt, but I’m guessing that you modified an original non-gluten-free recipe at some point to get your cupcake base recipe.

    I can’t find anything out there that’s comparable to how awesome these sound. The only other thing I found is missing a lot of ingredients … no vermouth or cherries … which is KIND of what a Manhattan is about.

    1. May 12, 2011

      No Calee, this does not make you a terrible person! I am not out to tell the whole world to eat gluten-free, just to offer solutions to those who can’t eat gluten. I didn’t modify another recipe just came up with this one but it is easy to change – just substitute 2 cups of all purpose flour for the 1 cup superfine white rice flour, 1/3 cup superfine sweet rice flour, 1/3 cup millet flour, 1/3 cup potato starch and the 1 teaspoon xanthan gum. Follow the directions as written. Easy peasy! And I agree, you need the vermouth and cherries otherwise it is just not a Manhattan, maybe something else, but not that. Enjoy!

      1. June 14, 2011

        THANK YOU! That’s what I was thinking about doing, but I didn’t want to mess everything up!

        And also — I’m pretty sure I’m gluten intolerant (not celiac disease) now. So randomly stumbling across your blog was probably a good thing!

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