With whiskey’s increased popularity, more and more people are exploring whiskey cocktails like Old Fashioneds and Manhattans.
Both drinks contain whiskey, bitters, and a sweet component; however, only the Manhattan adds vermouth–an aromatic fortified wine–to give their drink a more complex taste profile.
How to Make an Old Fashioned
Due to whiskey’s increasing popularity, more bars offer variations of an Old Fashioned cocktail. Some are changing the ingredients or altering their recipes, while some even opt for going without sugar altogether – yet this classic cocktail remains a mainstay in many bars and can easily be prepared at home.
Traditional old fashioned were prepared using a lump of sugar muddled with bitters, filled with whiskey over ice, and garnished with orange peel. Nowadays, most bartenders prefer simple syrup over this method for creating this timeless drink. Some recipes also call for adding large ice cubes as a cooling aid. Some even incorporate orange peel for garnish.
An old-fashioned is best achieved using high-quality bourbon. When selecting a bottle for this cocktail, ensure you find a brand you enjoy sipping alone since it will become the centerpiece. A general guideline suggests setting a brand with an alcohol-by-volume range between 90-100.
Next, prepare the bitters. Many old-fashioned use just one dash of Angostura bitters but use multiple energies to balance sweet and sour elements for best results. A life of citrus juice like lemon or lime may also add extra dimension.
Once all the ingredients have been assembled, mixing a drink is time! Begin by placing a sugar cube or simple syrup in a glass and adding three or more dashes of bitters; once muddling has taken place correctly, sugar should have disintegrated while bitters have mixed in perfectly with all other drink components. Next, add one or two large ice cubes before topping with your preferred bourbon brand.
Finally, take a stirring tool and carefully stir your drink until all liquid has been thoroughly mixed. Serve on rocks with any garnish you choose for optimal enjoyment – and save any extra ice for another beverage!
How to Make a Manhattan
“To create the ideal Manhattan,” notes Musgrave, “you must strike a balance between whiskey and vermouth flavors – one which isn’t too dry while still having just the right amount of sweetness from both sources – which results in that classic, refreshing sip.
Musgrave suggests starting your cocktail creation off right by mixing 2 ounces of high-rye bourbon or rye whiskey, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth, and a dash of Angostura bitters in a mixing glass with ice for 30 seconds before straining into an elegant coupe glass or Nick & Nora glass and garnishing it with brandied cherries for maximum effect.
For an elegant Manhattan, try using sweet vermouth with higher octane ratings and aromatic qualities like Dolin or Carpano Antica and Alberta Premium 100% Rye Whisky for its tart characteristics. Also, experiment with different bitter options ranging from floral/herbal like Peychaud’s to citrusy/coffee-based bitters such as Regans or Fee Brothers bitters to add extra complexity to the cocktail.
An Old Fashioned differs in that you must add water for proper dilution, with no rocks to illuminate over time. But a high-quality covered ice cube tray should suffice to make precise and odor-free ice cubes for this cocktail.
Musgrave points out another critical difference between these cocktails is that Manhattans can be prepared ahead of time and stored for up to an hour without losing their texture, which makes them ideal for prepping drinks before hosting parties or events so that when guests arrive, you need to serve them over ice.
Though a Manhattan is suitable for any special event or milestone celebration like an anniversary, it makes an especially grand gesture. A recent study discovered that it’s one of the most beloved classic cocktails found at bars – why not host your celebratory Manhattan bar for friends and family to share in this occasion beverage?
What’s the Difference Between the Two?
The Manhattan and Old Fashioned are classic whiskey-based cocktails, but each varies significantly in ingredients and preparation methods. The Manhattan is typically composed of whiskey (typically rye), sweet vermouth, and bitters, usually served over ice and garnished with either cherries or orange peels for garnish. Dating back to the 1880s (legend has it that it originated at Manhattan Club, but other sources credit Black as the inventor), it has endured through wars, recessions, Prohibition, and Great Depression to remain an evergreen drink that stands the test of time despite wars, recessions, Prohibition and Great Depression alike!
For an optimal Manhattan experience, choose an antica Torino Vermouth di Torino or Lustau fortified sherry with an aromatic blend of spices such as gentian, rhubarb, vanilla bean, and rosemary for optimal flavor and complexity. In addition, opt for higher-quality whiskey, such as your favorite rye or bourbon!
While Manhattan can be enjoyed alone, it also makes an excellent foundation for numerous variations. Try creating reverse Manhattans using amaro or liqueurs instead of whiskey; divide up vermouth between sweet and dry varieties; or add absinthe or Herbsaint for something extraordinary!
Importantly, when creating a Manhattan cocktail, it should never be served with large cubes of ice. As these larger pieces melt more slowly, they help preserve flavor by slowing the rate at which ice dilutes whiskey. A smaller and higher-grade cube or sphere should always be used when crafting this drink to ensure an even sip experience and proper ingredient balance.
As with any cocktail, it is always wise to be creative when crafting your concoctions. Manhattan and Old Fashioned cocktails can easily be tailored to individual preferences; don’t be intimidated to explore various whiskeys, sweeteners, bitters, or garnishes until you find the ideal recipe.
Which is Better?
Old Fashioned and Manhattan cocktails are timeless whiskey drinks, yet one takes it further with vermouth’s botanical infusion to elevate this sophisticated drink to something spectacular. A Manhattan is known for being strong and bold, while an Old Fashioned offers more of a subtle sweetness allowing whiskey’s spirit to take center stage – it depends on which option best fits you!
One significant distinction between the two cocktails lies in how they’re served; an Old Fashioned is traditionally enjoyed from a low, heavy-bottomed glass called an old fashioned or rocks glass; on the other hand, Manhattans are generally taken from stemmed cocktail or coupe glasses and typically adorned with an orange peel garnish while Old Fashioneds may include cherries as an addition.
The ingredients for both cocktails vary; an Old Fashioned typically calls for bourbon or rye whiskey mixed with various bitters, whereas, for the Manhattan, you have your choice between either sweet or dry vermouth and adding Angostura bitters, which add baking-spicy notes that complement the aromas found in whiskey. It should be stirred rather than shaken and served with a cherry garnish.
Mix a cocktail glass with ice, and combine 2 ounces of whiskey, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth, and several dashes of Angostura Bitters. Stir to chill and dilute all of these ingredients before straining into a chilled coupe glass (preferably one with brandied cherry garnish and an orange twist ) and serving immediately.
The Old Fashioned is an easy cocktail to prepare, as only a few ingredients are required to craft one. Combine your chosen whiskey with large cubes or spheres of ice and several dashes of bitters in a mixing glass before stirring well to combine and then straining into an old-fashioned glass with cherries for garnish, as desired.