What’s the difference between Manhattan and old fashion?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

The difference between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned lies primarily in the sweeteners used in each cocktail. Let’s dive into the specifics.

1. Sweeteners:
– Old Fashioned: The classic Old Fashioned cocktail typically calls for a sugar cube or simple syrup as the sweetener. The sugar is muddled with bitters and a splash of water to create a sweet base for the drink.
– Manhattan: On the other hand, a Manhattan cocktail uses sweet vermouth as its sweetener. Sweet vermouth is a fortified wine that adds a complex and rich sweetness to the cocktail. It is combined with whiskey and bitters to create the Manhattan’s distinct flavor profile.

2. Ingredients:
– Old Fashioned: Apart from the sweetener, an Old Fashioned typically consists of bourbon or rye whiskey, bitters (usually Angostura), and a citrus twist (orange or lemon) as garnish. Some variations may include additional ingredients like maraschino cherries or soda water, but the classic recipe focuses on the whiskey and sugar combination.
– Manhattan: The core ingredients of a Manhattan include whiskey (traditionally rye, but bourbon is also commonly used), sweet vermouth, and bitters. It is often garnished with a cherry, and some variations may also add a twist of lemon peel.

3. Flavor profile:
– Old Fashioned: With its use of sugar and bitters, an Old Fashioned offers a balanced and slightly sweeter taste. The sugar cube or simple syrup adds a subtle sweetness, while the bitters provide depth and complexity to the cocktail. The choice of whiskey also influences the flavor profile, with bourbon offering a slightly sweeter and smoother taste compared to the spicier notes of rye.
– Manhattan: The sweet vermouth in a Manhattan imparts a richer and more pronounced sweetness. It contributes to the cocktail’s overall complexity and adds a velvety mouthfeel. The combination of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters creates a harmonious balance of flavors, with the whiskey’s character shining through.

4. Serving style:
– Old Fashioned: As the name suggests, the Old Fashioned is typically served in an old-fashioned glass, also known as a rocks glass. It is often served over ice, allowing the drinker to enjoy it at their own pace.
– Manhattan: A Manhattan is traditionally served in a cocktail glass, also known as a martini glass. It is usually stirred with ice and strained into the glass, without ice.

While both the Manhattan and Old Fashioned are classic whiskey-based cocktails, the key difference lies in their choice of sweeteners. The Old Fashioned relies on sugar or simple syrup, while the Manhattan incorporates sweet vermouth. These distinct sweeteners contribute to the unique flavor profiles of each cocktail. So whether you prefer the balanced sweetness of an Old Fashioned or the rich complexity of a Manhattan, there’s a whiskey cocktail to suit your taste. Cheers!