Do you have a bottle of the world’s most beloved golden spirit at home? Go beyond pure and over the rocks for something a little more shaken and choppy. We’re rounding up some classic, time-tested cocktail recipes that bring out the nuances of whiskey.
An essential part of every home bar, whiskey can be smoky, sweet, spicy or even fruity, depending on the process of distillation, maturation and fermentation. Naturally, there are plenty of options to choose from, the most popular being bourbons, single malts, and scotch.
And while the age-old way to enjoy that spirit is to keep it clean, there are a few old-school cocktails that are just as classic. Not only do they allow the whiskey flavors to sing, but they’re also a refreshing switch for your nightcap and make a great addition to a house party spread. If you’re ready to hone your bartending skills, try these recipes.
These 10 whiskey cocktail recipes are designed to impress
This popular bar order dates back to the 1860s and is a mixture of lemon juice with egg whites. The former gives the whiskey a touch of acidity, while the latter adds a silky and intriguing mouthfeel. Combine that with the sweetness of sugar syrup and maraschino cherry, and you have a drink that will never go out of fashion. The classic whiskey choices for this cocktail are Rye, Bourbon, and Canadian.
Official cocktail of New Orleans, this alcoholic drink has its origins in 1838, when an apothecary served a mixture of ingredients in an egg cup to his fellow masons. The drink’s formulations have since changed, including whiskey replacing the older brandy. Today, a glass of sazerac includes sugar, Peychaud bitters and lemon zest. The flavor is tart, sweet and bitter all at once and is a unique drink to add to your repertoire. Not to mention, it’s the perfect recipe for that bottle of rye whiskey that sits nicely in your home bar.
This is an iconic libation that dates back to 1882 and is often called the gin and tonic of the whiskey world. Ingredients featured here include Angostura bitters, sweet vermouth, and cherry, all of which give the concoction a herbal, slightly bitter, and refreshing flavor. Besides being fairly simple to put together, Manhattan is the best way to make bourbon or rye whiskey shine. The former will give your drink a sweeter profile, while the latter will add some astringency to the flavor. Don’t forget to chill your cocktail coupe before serving this one.
This refreshing summer drink began as a medicinal concoction to calm the stomach, gaining popularity in the 1700s as an elite drink served in silver cups with ice. Every bartender has their variation of this cocktail, with many debating how many mint leaves to use and how best to infuse them into the drink. Regardless of what you prefer, the ingredients are a simple fusion of fresh mint, sugar, and smoked bourbon. Add some bitters to the mix and you have the perfect harmony of sweet and tart. Garnish with a ton of good quality ice cream and fresh mint.
A close cousin to the Manhattan, Rob Roy dates back to 1894 when a New York bartender brought together a set of tasty ingredients to honor an operetta of the same name. It is a spirit drink, which makes choosing the right whiskey imperative. Most experts recommend a blended scotch. Other ingredients include sweet vermouth and angostura bitters, making for a rich and flavorful sip. Some recipes call for dry vermouth and many mix the two together. Whichever way you go, be sure to mix with some good quality ice in a stemmed glass and top it off with a cherry brandy for an extra kick.
The perfect marriage of two beloved drinks, Irish coffee was first served decades ago in 1943 as a pick-me-up for travel-weary passengers. Soon, the drink’s rich, indulgent flavors made it a sensation at the airport. Even today, this unique concoction is a crowd pleaser, with ingredients like freshly brewed black coffee, brown sugar and crème fraîche. Grab a delicious Caramel Fruit Irish Whiskey on your next grocery run, and add a glass of Bailey’s for extra smoothness.
A refreshing concoction for summer, a highball contains only two ingredients, ginger ale (or sparkling water) and whiskey. While it may seem simple, the secret to quality sips is to choose a whiskey that you will enjoy neat and use a ton of good quality ice to top it off. Many Japanese bartenders go so far as to stir the drink a specific set of times at each step for the perfect result. Don’t forget to also freeze your tall glass and add a squeeze of lemon juice for a little extra flavor. Japanese whiskey is the best bet for this one.
Often synonymous with whiskey in the bartending world, the old-school classic is considered one of the oldest alcoholic concoctions on record. It was developed around the 1880s in a Kentucky gentlemen’s club that retained the old-fashioned values of decency, propriety, and civility. The ingredients for this cocktail recipe include sugar, bitters, and rye or bourbon whiskey, served in a tumbler with a must-have orange twist and cherry. The flavor is sweet with bitter undertones and is a great addition to any cocktail repertoire.
A drink that first hit bars in the early 1960s, A Rusty Nail is a cocktail designed for Scotch drinkers. There are several theories surrounding its name, with some claiming it was first stirred with a rusty nail and others insisting it has something to do with the drink’s golden hues. The ingredients in this one include scotch and Drambuie liqueur, both of which give the drink a deep color and the perfect fusion of smoky and sweet flavors that are light on the palate. Serve it over good quality ice.
Although not as popular as its Manhattan and Rusty Nail cousins, the dry, grassy, and rich flavor of this cocktail makes it just as delicious. The whiskey of choice for this cocktail recipe is a scotch as opposed to the usual bourbon or eye, with other ingredients like sweet vermouth, dom benedict, and lemon zest. When combined with good quality ice cream, the mixture makes a refreshing addition to any occasion. However, it is often eaten on Burns Night (UK), in honor of Scottish poet Robert Burns.
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