Food & Drink

The Two Most Popular Whiskey-Based Cocktails You Should Know About

What's the difference between an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan cocktail? The best bourbon drinks go head-to-head.
IMAGE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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Dating back to the 1800s, the Old Fashioned and Manhattan continue to be among the most popular whiskey-based cocktails, and both would serve any imbiber well—especially on a crisp fall evening. You really can't go wrong with either, but if you're going to choose a favorite, it helps to understand how they differ.

THE RECIPES:

OLD FASHIONED
Ingredients
- 2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey
- 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 1 sugar cube or 1 tsp sugar

Instructions
Place the sugar cube or teaspoon of sugar in an Old Fashioned glass. Splash it with three dashes of bitters and muddle together. Add the whiskey, a large ice cube, and stir. Garnish with an orange peel.

MANHATTAN
Ingredients 
- 2 oz rye whiskey
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Instructions
Stir the rye, vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

WHICH ONE IS OLDER?

The Old Fashioned, which Esquire calls "basically the OG cocktail," is the winner here. The first reference to it was in a May 13, 1806 edition of a newspaper called the Balance and Columbian Repository in which the paper's editor referred to a "cocktail" (the word's first published reference) as consisting of spirits, bitters, water, and sugar. The "Old Fashioned" name came a while later, in 1881, when a bartender at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky mixed the drink with bourbon, bitters, club soda, muddled sugar, and ice to honor Colonel James E. Pepper, a prominent bourbon distiller, who eventually brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.

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The Manhattan, meanwhile, was probably created in the mid-19th century. William F. Mulhall, a bartender who mixed drinks at New York’s Hoffman House starting in the early 1880s, wrote: "The Manhattan cocktail was invented by a man named Black, who kept a place ten doors below Houston Street on Broadway in the [eighteen-] sixties—probably the most famous drink in the world in its time."

HOW DO THE INGREDIENTS DIFFER?

An Old Fashioned is made with whiskey (bourbon or rye), bitters, and sugar; a Manhattan is traditionally made with rye whiskey and substitutes sweet vermouth for the sugar. A "Perfect Manhattan" adds yet another twist: halving the sweet vermouth into equal portions of sweet and dry vermouths.

ARE THEY SERVED DIFFERENTLY?

Yes. An Old Fashioned should be prepared and served in its namesake glass, a low tumbler, accompanied (ideally) by a large ice cube. A Manhattan is mixed with ice in a mixing glass and then strained into a cocktail glass.

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WHO DRINKS THEM?

There's probably no more famous proponent of the Old Fashioned than Don Draper. Case in point: the Mad Men scene below in which he prepares two of them.

Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack reportedly preferred the Manhattan.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Sam Dangremond
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