Manhattan vs Old Fashioned: A Classic Cocktail Showdown

Manhattan vs old fashioned

Manhattan vs old fashioned – In the world of classic cocktails, the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned stand as timeless icons. Both rooted in tradition, these drinks have captivated generations with their distinct flavors and enduring appeal. Join us as we delve into the historical origins, ingredients, preparation, and variations of these legendary libations.

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From the bustling streets of New York City to the smoky saloons of the Wild West, the Manhattan and Old Fashioned have left an indelible mark on cocktail culture. Let’s explore the fascinating stories behind these iconic drinks and discover what sets them apart.

Manhattan vs Old Fashioned: A Tale of Two Classic Cocktails

The Manhattan and the Old Fashioned are two of the most iconic cocktails in the world, each with its own unique history, ingredients, and flavor profile. In this article, we’ll delve into the origins, composition, preparation, and variations of these two timeless libations.

Historical Origins

Manhattan vs old fashioned


The Manhattan cocktail is believed to have originated in the late 19th century at the Manhattan Club in New York City. According to legend, the drink was created by a bartender named William “Cocktail Bill” Boothby in honor of Lady Randolph Churchill, the mother of Winston Churchill.

The cocktail quickly became popular among the club’s members and spread throughout the city.

Old Fashioned, Manhattan vs old fashioned

The origins of the Old Fashioned are less clear, but it is believed to have emerged in the early 19th century. The cocktail is thought to have been inspired by a similar drink called the Whiskey Cocktail, which was popular at the time.

Over time, the Old Fashioned evolved to include additional ingredients such as sugar, bitters, and orange peel.

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Ingredients and Composition

Ingredient Manhattan Old Fashioned
Whiskey Rye whiskey Bourbon whiskey
Sweet Vermouth Yes No
Bitters Angostura bitters Angostura bitters and/or orange bitters
Sugar No Yes (optional)
Orange peel Garnish Garnish

The key difference between the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned is the presence of sweet vermouth in the Manhattan. Sweet vermouth adds a touch of sweetness and complexity to the cocktail, while the Old Fashioned is more straightforward and whiskey-forward.

Preparation and Techniques: Manhattan Vs Old Fashioned


  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Add the rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters to the mixing glass.
  3. Stir for 30 seconds, or until the cocktail is well-chilled.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe glass.
  5. Garnish with an orange peel.

Old Fashioned, Manhattan vs old fashioned

  1. Place a sugar cube in the bottom of an Old Fashioned glass.
  2. Add a few dashes of Angostura bitters and orange bitters to the sugar cube.
  3. Muddle the sugar cube and bitters together.
  4. Add the bourbon whiskey to the glass.
  5. Add a large ice cube.
  6. Garnish with an orange peel.

The main difference between the preparation of the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned is the use of stirring versus muddling. Stirring is a gentler method that preserves the clarity of the cocktail, while muddling releases the sugars from the orange peel and sugar cube, resulting in a more complex flavor.

Final Wrap-Up

Whether you prefer the refined elegance of a Manhattan or the robust simplicity of an Old Fashioned, there’s no denying the enduring charm of these classic cocktails. Their versatility and adaptability make them perfect for any occasion, from sophisticated soirĂ©es to casual gatherings.

As we raise a glass to these timeless creations, let’s appreciate the rich history and craftsmanship that have made them beloved by cocktail enthusiasts worldwide.