Difference Between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned - Ask Any Difference

Difference Between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned

We notice several drinks when we visit a bar or a restaurant. Hard drinks are available in a wide range with different drink combinations. We have brandy, gym, vodka, whiskey, rum, liquors in hard drinks. They are types of alcoholic drinks with different alcoholic content combinations. Manhattan and Old Fashioned are classic types of cocktails. Cocktails are alcohol mixed drinks along with some syrups or fruit juices.

A Manhattan vs An Old Fashioned

The main difference between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned is that the amount of whiskey and sweetener used during their mixing. Though both come under the classic cocktails, they differ in taste and color due to the presence of sweeteners. Manhattan and an old-fashioned are classic cocktails, which contain whisky as the main ingredient. And they differ with whisky content and occasional sweeteners used during mixing.

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The birth of this classic whiskey cocktail occurred in the early 19th century. Manhattan can be easily made in bars and homes too. Manhattan contains bourbon whiskey as a base ingredient. A simple Manhattan can be made with the combination of bourbon whiskey, bitters, and sweet vermouth. If we observe in a bar, Manhattan is served with cherry garnishing.

An Old Fashioned is also a classic whiskey cocktail. The existence of old fashioned was started by a newspaper in New York in the early 1800s. In the 1800s, old-fashioned used to have only sugar syrup, bitters, and spirits without any whiskey content. However, nowadays old fashioned is prepared using whiskey. A classic old-fashioned is made of three simple ingredients, they are whiskey, bitters, and sugar syrup.

Comparison Table Between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned

Parameters of ComparisonManhattanOld Fashioned
IngredientsManhattan is a mixture of whiskey, bitters, and sweet vermouth.Old fashioned is a well-stirred mixture of rye whiskey, sugar syrup, and bitters.
Composition of whiskeyManhattan contains 60 ml of whiskey.It contains 45 ml of whiskey.
FlavorIt has a complex flavor. Slight wine flavor with less sweet.This drink has a sweet flavor with added balanced bitters.
DrinkwareCocktail glassOld fashioned glass
GarnishingManhattan is garnished with a maraschino cherry.Old fashioned is garnished with an orange slice.

What is Manhattan?

Manhattan is a classic whiskey cocktail usually present in every bar. It is easy to prepare a Manhattan house too. It said that this cocktail drink emerged in the Manhattan club of New York in the 1870s. Manhattan is a well-stirred mixture of three major ingredients, they are bourbon or rye whiskey, bitters, and sweet vermouth. Typically served in Manhattan glass or martini glass.


  1. 60 ml of rye whiskey
  2. 30 ml of sweet vermouth
  3. 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  4. Maraschino cherry for garnishing


  1. Put some ice in the cocktail glass and place it aside till the glass gets chilled.
  2. Now take 60 ml of rye whiskey in another glass.
  3. And then add 30 ml of sweet vermouth to it.
  4. Now add 2 dashes of bitters. And add 1 dash of orange flavor if required.
  5. Add ice to the mixture and stir well.
  6. Now empty the cocktail glass with ice and serve the Manhattan in the cocktail glass with a maraschino cherry.

Manhattan is served in a chilled cocktail glass. Contrary to other drinks, Manhattan is usually served without ice cubes. The sweet vermouth used in the drink keeps it dry. Regular drinkers will notice the peculiar sweetness of sweet vermouth. Manhattan has a wine flavor with a bit of sweetness.

What is Old Fashioned?

The Old Fashioned cocktail is also one of the classics usually made with rye or bourbon whiskey. Old fashioned gained popularity in the 1960s, hence described as the younger brother to Manhattan. This classical cocktail has three main ingredients, they are rye whiskey, sugar syrup, and bitters. With better bourbon whiskey we get the better old-fashioned cocktail.


  1. 45 ml of rye or bourbon whiskey.
  2. 15 ml of simple sugar syrup.
  3. 2 dashes of bitters
  4. Orange peel for garnish


  1. Take an Old Fashioned glass and pour 15 ml of sugar syrup into it.
  2. Now add 45 ml of bourbon to the sugar syrup.
  3. Add 2 dashes of bitters to the mixture.
  4. Put a lot of ice in the glass and stir it well.
  5. Now garnish with an orange peel and it’s ready to serve (if required use a smoked peel for better taste).

Old Fashioned is served in Old fashioned drinkware with ice rocks. This drink warms up your body from the inside. This drink has a sweet flavor with balanced bitters taste. In old fashion, you can feel the taste of whiskey clearly, as a simple sugar syrup can’t change the entire taste of the drink.  The orange peel adds a citrus flavor which enhances your sipping experience.

Main Differences Between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned

  1. Both are classic whiskey cocktails made from bourbon whiskey but differ in composition and ingredients. Manhattan has 15 ml of more whiskey in its composition compared to Old Fashioned.
  2. Manhattan contains sweet vermouth for flavor, whereas simple sugar syrup is used in an old fashioned.
  3. The Manhattan cocktail is slightly bitter and herbal due to the presence of bitters and tastes strong. While old-fashioned is a bit citrus and sweet due to sugar syrup.
  4. A perfect Manhattan is made of rye whiskey which gives an excellent strong kick. The rye whiskey gives the added flavor of pepper. While old fashioned typically made with smooth whiskey like bourbon.
  5. Manhattan is served in a cocktail glass without ice rocks and with three cherries. An old-fashioned drink is served with ice rocks in old-fashioned glassware with an orange slice.


Both are beverages, Manhattan and an old fashioned are classic whiskey cocktails. These two cocktails are extremely popular in the USA. But they are available in bars across the globe. Early drinkers might feel tricky to distinguish between Manhattan and Old fashioned. While regular drinkers can easily distinguish with their difference in flavor.

These both classics are boozy cocktails. And the main difference lies in the sweetener party. Manhattan and an Old Fashioned have their respective glassware and garnishing styles. Bothe the cocktails have similar family ingredients, they are whiskey, sweeteners, and bitters. Manhattan is served purely without ice rocks while Old fashioned is served with chilling ice rocks with an orange slice in it.


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