Whiskey cocktail

We asked 8 bartenders: what is the best whiskey cocktail?

Some like their whiskey pure, others like it on ice. Some prefer it with a little hard water at $ 10.

Whatever your preferences, there is always a time and place for whiskey cocktails. We caught up with eight New York City bartenders to find out which drinks dominate all the rest and which you should order the next time you go out.

“I love an Old Fashioned as the pure expression of whiskey in a cocktail. A little bit of bitters and sugar to complete it all, served on a large ice cube. You can still taste the shade of the base alcohol, the cocktail also changes a lot over time. – Jesse Vida, Bar Manager at BlackTail

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“Bourbon’s response to Negroni’s call, the Boulevardier, is hands down one of my favorite whiskey cocktails. In this classic, replacing gin with bourbon brings a touch of warmth and depth to the familiar Negroni. Notes of oak, vanilla, toasted nuts and caramel dance with the bitter undertones of Campari and the richness of vermouth, making for a pleasant tasting experience. – Josh Campbell, bartender at Leyenda and The NoMad

“My favorite whiskey drink is a drink called Black Rose (aromatic bitters, cane syrup, walnut liqueur, Curacao and Tullamore Dew infused with Earl Gray tea). We had it on the 3rd edition menu and it was one of my first drinks I created for Dead Rabbit. Call me sentimental, eh? It’s no longer on our menu, but we’re keeping it for old-fashioned drinkers who want to try something a little different and hopefully get them on board with Irish whiskey cocktails. – Jillian Vose, Director of Beverages at The Dead Rabbit

“The Quilty is essentially an interpretation of a Manhattan, which is my all-time favorite cocktail. It has some of my favorite ingredients including sherry, mezcal, Islay scotch, bourbon, and coffee liqueur. The flavor is reminiscent of coffee and cigarettes, a combination that I liked very much as a smoker. The name is an ironic reference to Frank Langella’s performance in Adrian Lynne’s “Lolita”, in which Langella, as Quilty, eats a cigarette. – Jim Kearns, Director of Beverages and Partner of Slowly Shirley

“My favorite whiskey drink would be that of a Boulevardier, cousin of the Negroni. Substitute whiskey for the gin. It’s bittersweet from Campari and sweet vermouth. The addition of rye makes it round and rich. It’s the perfect cocktail for the colder months! – Jenny Castillo, head bartender at Empire Diner

“A good Vieux Carré cocktail is part of my essential drinking regime at this time of year; it combines two of my favorites: whiskey and brandy. The cocktail was created in New Orleans’ famous Carousel Bar by bartender Walter Bergeron in the 1930s, a true classic cocktail that, when prepared properly, can evoke sheer decadence. – Kenneth McCoy, Creative Director at Public House Collective

“The Triumph (1.5 oz Elijah Craig Bourbon, 0.5 oz Pedro Ximenez Sherry, 2 dashes of Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters). Chocolate bitters accentuate the sweet, nutty and fruity quality of Pedro Ximenez, while Elijah Craig has a spiciness that is tamed by other spirits. This three-ingredient cocktail is very balanced and has many layers without being too fiery. The cocktail can be enjoyed by bourbon lovers, chocolate lovers and sherry lovers without any component dominated by other flavors. – Young Kim, Director of Beverages at Flatiron Room

“The old barrel made Angostura, 1/2 ounce of Benedictine, 1/2 ounce of Amontillado and 2 ounces of rye. Stir and serve on a large rock with a garnish of orange zest. You can’t beat the combination of sherry and brown liquor, especially when the sherry is dry and oxidized and the liquor is American whiskey. This is one of those drinks that I will never forget having for the first time. – Thomas Spaeth, bartender at Dear Irving


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