Cocktails fall into many families and formats: sours, fizzes, flips, rickeys, and so on. With this nomenclature we can describe a drink without listing all the ingredients and quantities, no matter what someone has chosen to name it. For example, a Moscow Mule is just a vodka buck, and an Agricole Mule is a rhum agricole buck with mint.
Regardless of the category they fit into, most cocktails have only one base spirit. Exceptions to this include the Vesper (with vodka and gin), and several tiki drinks that balance multiple types of rum.
The Saratoga also has two base ingredients: whiskey and brandy. The cocktail dates from the 1800s but I’ve not figured out its exact origin. Adding to the confusion, there is another cocktail named the Saratoga with different ingredients.
If we wanted to describe the drink to a bartender, we’d say it’s a two-to-one Manhattan with equal parts whiskey and brandy. Or you could just give him or her the recipe.
1 fl. oz. Rye Whiskey
1 fl. oz. VSOP Cognac
1 fl. oz. Sweet Vermouth
2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir all ingredients over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.
This is the version I like best, with spicy rye whiskey balanced by soft cognac. I’ve also had the drink made with Japanese whisky and it was equally delicious.