The real difference between Manhattans and Old Fashioneds

Ordering a drink at a cocktail bar can be confusing and a little uncomfortable if you aren't familiar with the different names and varieties of liquors. Whiskey cocktails can be particularly confusing compared to other types of drinks, since they can seem very similar to one another when it comes to how they look and their ingredient lists but will taste totally different based on just a few small tweaks.

If you're just beginning to get into whiskey based cocktails, a great place to start is with the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan. These cocktails are two hugely popular, classic whiskey drinks that should appear on almost any bar menu. According to Whiskey Watch, both of these cocktails would be a great choice if you are in an unfamiliar bar and are craving a simple whiskey drink. They state that the main differences between the two are that Old Fashioneds are sweeter and served in on the rocks, while Manhattans include sweet vermouth and usually come served in a coupe glass. Old Fashioneds also taste simpler than Manhattans, which the outlet describes as having an unexpectedly complex taste, considering how few ingredients are required to make them.

Try making both cocktails at home

Want to try out both cocktails at home? Whiskey Watch offers two very basic recipes to help you figure out which drink you prefer. After you have the basics down, try experimenting with different bitters, whiskeys, and garnishes to make it your own.

To make a classic Manhattan, you will need two parts rye whiskey, one part sweet vermouth, and two parts bitters. Traditionally orange bitters were used, but Angostura bitters can be swapped in for this more difficult to find variety. You simply pour all of your ingredients into a glass filled with ice, stir, and strain into another chilled glass. Top with an optional maraschino cherry. For the Old Fashioned, you will need whiskey (bourbon or rye are both acceptable), Angostura bitters, and one cube or teaspoon worth of sugar. First, you put your sugar into a glass, add a few dashes of bitters, and then muddle these two ingredients together. Next, add your whiskey of choice, a large ice cube, and stir. Add an optional orange peel for garnish.