Manhattan vs Old Fashioned: Difference and Comparison

We notice several drinks when we visit a bar or a restaurant. Hard drinks are available in a wide range with different drink combinations.


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We have brandy, gym, vodka, whiskey, rum, and 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.

Key Takeaways

  1. A Manhattan is a cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, while an Old Fashioned is made with whiskey, sugar, and water.
  2. A Manhattan is served up in a martini glass, while an Old Fashioned is served on the rocks in a lowball glass.
  3. A Manhattan is a more complex and sophisticated drink, while an Old Fashioned is a classic and straightforward cocktail.

A Manhattan vs An Old Fashioned

A Manhattan is a term used to describe a cocktail made with whiskey, vermouth, and bitters, served in a martini glass with a cherry garnish. An Old Fashioned is a cocktail made with whiskey, sugar, bitters, and water or soda, served in a rocks glass with an orange peel and cherry garnish.

A Manhattan vs An Old Fashioned

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 a 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. A newspaper in New York started existence of old-fashioned in the early 1800s.

In the 1800s, the old-fashioned used to have only sugar syrup, bitters, and spirits without any whiskey content. However, nowadays, old fashion is prepared using whiskey.

A classic old-fashioned is made of three simple ingredients, and they are whiskey, bitters, and sugar syrup.

Comparison Table

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 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, and 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 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, 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, and 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 a balanced bitter taste. In old fashion, you could 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.

old fashioned

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 bitters and strong taste. While old-fashioned is a bit citrus and sweet due to sugar syrup.
  4. A perfect Manhattan is made of rye whiskey, giving an excellent strong kick. The rye whiskey gives the added flavor of pepper. In contrast, old-fashioned is 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.
Difference Between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned

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