It’s safe to say that the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned are two of the most popular whiskey-based cocktails to come out of the 1800’s. They differ in how they are made and served, producing a debate or rivalry that’s been at the bar for over 100 years.  If you’re trying to choose, it helps to understand the complexities of each cocktail.

The History of the Manhattan Cocktail

The Manhattan cocktail has an illustrious history dating back to the 1880’s.  Legend has it that the cocktail was conjured up at the Manhattan Club. However, other accounts say the legendary cocktail was created by a man named Black. Regardless of its actual origins, the Manhattan has seen its share of good times and bad. It’s stood the test of time through wars, recessions, Prohibition and the Great Depression.

The History of the Old Fashioned Cocktail

The Old Fashioned, named by Esquire as “basically the OG cocktail,” first made its appearance on the bartending scene in 1806. The Balance and Columbian Repository touted a “cocktail” (the first published reference of the word) made with spirits, bitters, water and sugar. However, the name did not come until 1881, when a bartender honored Colonel James E. Pepper with a mixed drink consisting of bourbon, bitters, club soda, muddled sugar and ice. Colonel Pepper later went on to bring it to New York City at the grand Astoria Hotel.

Are They Different?

In short, yes. The cocktails differ in the ingredients used and how they are served. While both are made with whiskey, the Manhattan is made with a sweet vermouth instead of a sugar cube. Lastly, an Old Fashioned is served in its namesake glass while a Manhattan is served in a cocktail glass.

Try your hand at making both drinks and decide for yourself which of these two is the “better” cocktail.

classic manhattan cocktail

Classic Manhattan Cocktail


  • 2 oz. J.A.P.C Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Ice
  • 1 maraschino cherry, for garnish


  1. Fill pint glass with ice.
  2. Add J.A.P.C. Bourbon Whiskey, vermouth, and bitters to glass.
  3. Stir well.
  4. Strain cocktail into a chilled coupe cocktail glass.
  5. Garnish with cherry.
  6. Enjoy!
bourbon old fashioned cocktail

Bourbon Old Fashioned Cocktail


  • 2 oz. J.A.P.C. Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Orange slice (optional)
  • Club soda (optional)
  • Maraschino cherry, to garnish
  • Orange peel, to garnish


  1. Place sugar cube at the bottom of an old-fashioned glass.
  2. Place orange slice over sugar cube (if desired), saturate with bitters and muddle.
  3. Fill the glass with ice.
  4. Add J.A.P.C. Bourbon Whiskey.
  5. Stir well.
  6. Add a splash of club soda (optional).
  7. Garnish with cherry and orange peel.
  8. Enjoy!

While the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned are two drinks with unique profiles, they are both classic and iconic cocktails that have withstood the test of time. Not only are they great to order while out at your favorite spot, but they are easy to make at home which makes them even better in our book.

Want to develop your mixology skills even more? Download our FREE Mixology Guide.