I’m not picky about my Manhattan, except for the cherries. They have to be Luxardo. And I like plenty of bitters. (Note: the giant stockpot in the photo was not used in the making of the drink, although it might be good for parties, come to think of it.)
Luxardo cherries are the real Marasca variety, grown in northern Italy and in Croatia. They don’t have fake food coloring, and they are dark, almost black in color.
They’re also incredibly delicious. My rule is: if you can’t get good cherries, don’t bother with a Manhattan. Yes, these are expensive ($17 for a 12-oz jar) but unless you’re sucking down a Manhattan every night, or having a lot of parties, they’ll last you a good long time.