Classic whiskey-based cocktails such as Old Fashioned and Manhattan have long been beloved.
They both contain whiskey, bitters, and a sweetening agent; however, numerous differences make each drink distinct.
For instance, the Manhattan is typically served in a martini or cocktail glass, while an Old Fashioned cocktail requires an Old Fashioned glass with a low tumbler.
What is an Old Fashioned?
As its name implies, an old-fashioned whiskey cocktail adheres to the original definition given by The Balance and Columbian Repository of Hudson, New York, 1806: spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. Typically this drink uses either bourbon or rye whiskey with Angostura or Peychaud’s bitters, served over large cubes of ice (ideally spheres or cubes for optimal results), stirred, not shaken, while garnished with orange peel for garnish.
Making this drink is highly straightforward and is an ideal way to start drinking whisky properly. A 2:1:2 ratio (whiskey:sugar: bitters) works best; however, this can be altered according to personal taste. Premium whiskey should always be used.
Sugar cubes made with brown sugar will also give off an abundance of caramel-like notes – much like when using dark rye rather than higher-proof bourbon for making cocktails.
Add bitters to whiskey in a mixing glass and combine with a sugar cube and Luxardo cherry (not maraschino), muddling them to release oils within them. If the drink is too strong, add water or club soda until it is your desired strength; stir well over ice, garnishing it with an orange peel twist for extra citrusy flair!
The Manhattan is similar to its Old Fashioned cousin but with some key distinctions. First and foremost, it’s sweeter; sweet vermouth adds subtle sweetness unlike its whisky counterpart, and this gives the drink more of a dessert-like quality than an Old Fashioned does – although many don’t find this bothersome; bartenders usually allow customers to use whatever whiskey they choose when mixing the cocktail themselves.
What is a Manhattan?
A classic cocktail in its own right, the Manhattan is a deceptively complex mixture of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. While traditional versions typically use rye whiskey for this beverage, other spirits, such as bourbon or blended whisky, may also work. It is generally garnished with maraschino cherries at its presentation. Don Draper popularized this drink during his stint at Mad Men, and members of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack also enjoyed this cocktail drink!
A Manhattan is considered a spirit-forward cocktail; its prominent driving flavor comes from whiskey. Sweet vermouth balances this with additional depth of flavor provided by bitters like Angostura or Amber bitters which provide herbal and earthy notes to the drink. Because a Manhattan is usually stirred rather than served on rocks, its flavor tends to be sharper and more intense than an Old Fashioned cocktail.
The ideal ratio of whiskey to sweet vermouth depends on the bartender and individual drinker; generally speaking, though, 2:1 is often considered optimal. Many experiment with various whiskey and vermouth combinations to discover their perfect pairing; it is wise to experiment with multiple whiskey and vermouth brands until finding a flavor combination you enjoy most.
Even though Manhattan is widely considered an intricate and complex cocktail, its preparation can be relatively straightforward. The recipe is clear enough for even novice mixologists to follow and allows for advanced ingredient prep if desired. Perfect for serving guests quickly and effortlessly when hosting large numbers.
Both the Manhattan and Old Fashioned cocktails are classic American drinks that provide great ways to appreciate whiskey. It is ultimately up to each bartender and their patrons to decide which traditional drink they prefer, but both will surely prove popular choices at any reputable cocktail establishment.
Which is Sweeter?
The Manhattan and Old Fashioned cocktails are considered classic, each boasting a distinct flavor profile. Where the Old Fashioned relies on whiskey and bitters as its primary components, while in Manhattan, this step is taken further with sweet vermouth added as a sweetener; its complex mixture of flavors complement or counterpoint those found in robust whiskey characters, providing more balance to this drink than its Old Fashioned counterpart.
The Manhattan is considered a more “manly” cocktail due to its bold combination of ingredients, such as bourbon and sweet vermouth. Served in a coupe, cocktail glass adds to its masculine aesthetic, often garnished with orange peel or stemmed cherry for additional flavor, adding visual appeal and complementing whiskey’s robust characteristics. A perfect way to end an elegant dinner or after-dinner drink experience!
Which drink is superior: Manhattan or Old Fashioned? Ultimately, that decision depends on personal taste. A Manhattan is more sophisticated and complex, while Old Fashioneds tend to be simpler and less intimidating – the best way to decide between them is by trying both! To determine your favorite, give both a try.
How to Create a Manhattan
To craft the perfect Manhattan cocktail, fill a cocktail shaker with ice and combine 2 ounces of bourbon with 1 ounce of sweet vermouth and several dashes of bitters. Shake well until all ingredients have mixed and become chilled and dilute; stir for 30 seconds before straining into chilled coupe cocktail glasses (optionally garnish with brandied cherry or orange twist for aesthetic).
The Manhattan was first mentioned in a bartender’s guide published in 1862. Soon after, its successor, the Old Fashioned, became widely popular and was known initially as Whiskey Cocktail made with whiskey, sugar (or simple syrup), and bitters.
Both drinks feature spirits as the driving flavor component; whiskey will provide this taste profile in both cases. However, Manhattan has more sweetener due to using sweet vermouth instead of sugar cubes – but this could change depending on how diluted or non-dilutable served on rocks it is done.
Which is Better?
At first, glance, choosing between a Manhattan and Old Fashioned can be challenging; ultimately, it boils down to personal taste and the type of whiskey you prefer. A Manhattan has more complex flavors, balancing well between sweet vermouth, bitters, and whiskey for an intoxicating mix that complements each other perfectly; on the other hand, an Old Fashioned is simpler and lets the whiskey take the spotlight in its purest form for straightforward enjoyment.
The differences between these two beverages are also readily apparent when they’re prepared and served: Manhattans are usually stirred before being placed into a cocktail glass, whereas Old Fashioneds can be done either on the rocks in a low tumbler or with garnishing of either cherry or orange peel for each drink.
Both cocktails contain similar ingredients, with their main distinction being the type of whiskey used – Manhattan can use either bourbon or rye whiskey; Old Fashioned uses rye exclusively. Both cocktails were created in the early 1800s, but their recipes remain unknown.
The Old Fashioned is one of the world’s best-known classic cocktails, quickly rising in popularity. Easy and effortless to prepare, the Old Fashioned can make any celebration or event memorable while savoring its flavor without fear of overpowering it with too many extra components.
The Manhattan is a timeless cocktail with over 100 years of history and remains popular today. Comprised of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters – including spicy notes provided by rye – traditionally stirred and served in cocktail glasses or coupes; it developed initially sometime between 1800-1840, but the exact formula remains unknown, quickly becoming synonymous with New York City borough of Manhattan as its popularity increased rapidly and eventually inspired its name change to match.