While whiskey is delicious on its own, nothing beats the best whiskey cocktails for smoothness and refreshment. A rich, balanced sip is achieved by balancing the smokey whiskey flavor with sweet or acidic flavors. Plus, there are so many great whiskey cocktails out there that you could try a new one every night and never get bored.
We'll enlighten you about the history of cocktails and provide you with some fantastic whiskey cocktail recipes. We guarantee you'll discover something you enjoy on this list, whether you prefer sweet and fruity, dark and stormy, or simple and classic drinks.
The best whiskey cocktails can boost any party to new heights. Let's take a moment to explain the name "cocktail" before getting into the specifics of what to mix with whiskey.
In 1806 an editorial statement in The Balance and Columbian Repository gave the first documented definition of a cocktail. "Cocktail is a stimulant liquid made up of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters," it explained—the currently recognized description of ingredients when discussing the "perfect" cocktail. Cocktail components used to be limited to spirits, sugar, water, and bitters, but as the 1800s progressed, this definition expanded to include the addition of a liqueur.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a cocktail as "an iced drink of wine or distilled liquor combined with flavoring components." While this is a broad concept, it reflects the current practice of calling practically any mixed drink a cocktail.
For generations, people have mixed liquids to make an ingredient more appetizing or create medical elixirs. The ancestors of the cocktail (e.g., slings, fizzes, toddies, and juleps) did not become widespread enough to be recorded in history books until the 17th and 18th centuries. The first cocktail began as a single drink recipe rather than a category of mixed beverages, yet it's unclear where who or what went into its invention.
The Farmer's Cabinet is the first to mention the cocktail (Amherst, New Hampshire, April 28, 1803). According to David Wondrich, Captain J.E. Alexander created the earliest known printed cocktail recipe in 1831. It called for brandy, gin, or rum in a mixture of "...a third of the liquor to two-thirds of the water; add bitters, sugar, and nutmeg..."
Jerry Thomas released How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon Vivant's Companion in 1862, which offered ten cocktail recipes that used bitters to distinguish them from other drinks like punches and cobblers. Cocktails evolved and grew in popularity throughout the 1900s, with Mrs. Julius S. Walsh Jr. of St. Louis, Missouri coining the term "cocktail party" in 1917.
Whiskey is a big and ever-expanding industry. Similarly, the list of best whiskey cocktails is growing. However, a few tried-and-true recipes are necessary for a well-rounded whiskey experience.
These cocktails demonstrate whiskey's diversity. They comprise some of the most well-known whiskey cocktails, savored by whiskey connoisseurs for decades (or far longer). It's a great list for a newbie who wants to learn everything there is to know about whiskey cocktail recipes.
The Manhattan is a whiskey icon, with its typical blend of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. It can be made using bourbon, Canadian whiskey, or any other style, and it's an excellent recipe to utilize when testing out a new brand.
Steps to Make Manhattan
Dry Manhattan: A dash of dry vermouth instead of the sweet version and garnish with a lemon twist.
Perfect Manhattan: Equal parts sweet and dry vermouth and garnish with a lemon twist.
Rob Roy: This variation specifically calls for Scotch whiskey.
Metropolitan: This cocktail replaces the whiskey with brandy.
Southern Comfort Manhattan: Use Southern Comfort instead of whiskey to get a hint of peach.
The old-fashioned technique is straightforward to accessorize whiskey without drastically affecting its flavor. It's a wonderful way to experiment with any style of whiskey, as it's made with bitters, sugar, and an orange slice.
Steps to Make Old Fashioned
The Mint Julep is a classic bourbon cocktail that you should not miss. Popular drinks might be tricky to make at times, but this recipe is surprisingly simple and only takes a few ingredients.
Tips: This drink only needs crushed ice besides bourbon, sugar, and mint. Other types of ice will not have the same impact, so make a large mound of crushed ice before making this beverage.
Steps to Make Mint Julep
One of the best whiskey cocktails is the whiskey sour. It's simple to make, and the recipe serves as the foundation for the entire sour drink family.
Steps to Make Whiskey Sour
Tips: Each style or brand of whiskey you use will add a distinct flavor profile to the cocktail. You may need to modify the sweet and sour ingredients as you transition from one whiskey to another.
Add Egg White: An egg white is a traditional ingredient in whiskey sours. It helps to level out the tartness and smooth out the drink.
When using an egg, dry shake all of the ingredients without ice for 30 seconds before adding ice and shaking for another 30 seconds to ensure appropriate mixing. Serve on the rocks.
⚠ Consuming raw eggs exposes you to the danger of food-borne illness.
Cocktail origin legends can be tough to decipher at times, and the highball is no exception. The cocktail first appeared in the late 1890s, and according to numerous sources, bartenders in England referred to whiskey drinks as "balls," and tall or "high" glasses were used for such drinks. Another hypothesis holds that the name is derived from a 19th-century railroad signal. The train may move through without stopping when the ball was high or raised on the signal post.
Steps to Make Highball
The cobbler is a classic cocktail, and brandy and whiskey cobblers are both time-honored classics. They simply have more punch than the wine equivalents. Cobblers are indeed best served over crushed ice.
You can alter the proportion of syrup to your liking. A full ounce may be too much, depending on the whiskey or brandy. Begin with 1/2 ounce of syrup, whisk it up, taste it, and add more as needed.
Steps to Make Cobbler
The Boulevardier is a well-known cocktail with a high degree of adaptability. It has the texture and assertiveness of a Manhattan with the acidity, dryness, and bitterness of Campari. This dish exemplifies the balance that may be obtained when the proper ingredient ratio is used. Always keep this recipe in your back pocket. It will always come in handy.
If we combined the Boulevardier with an 80-proof bourbon and 30-proof vermouth, the resultant cocktail would be about 25% ABV (50 proof).
Steps to Make Boulevardier
The John Collins is a delightful bourbon sour drink appropriate for any celebration. It creates a fantastic everyday sipper that can be poured in a matter of minutes. In addition, it's a great opportunity to showcase your favorite whiskey in a simple, refreshing way.
Steps to Make John Collins
Tips: You can also shake this drink. To do so, place a mixing tin on top of the glass and give the mixture a brief shake before adding the soda.
The pickleback is a pretty intriguing whiskey shot that you must try for yourself. It's a shot of Jameson followed by a shot of pickle juice, and it's without a doubt one of the most renowned shots ordered in bars all over the world.
The mix is unusual, but it works well. Even if you don't like pickles, this is a drink you should try since it has a rich, umami flavor that you won't find in any other drink.
Step to Make Pickleback
Fill one shot glass halfway with whiskey and the other half with pickle juice.
Many people have discovered that a beer chaser is an excellent way to complete the pickleback, but it is not essential. If you want to give it a shot, stick to light, refreshing lagers. Pickleback enthusiasts' favorite beers are Dos Equis, Tecate, and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
The whiskey is the key to crafting a fantastic pickleback. You can pour any Irish whiskey—or any other whiskey—but it won't be the same as a shot of Jameson. Perhaps it's the woody sweetness of this specific whiskey or something else. It's difficult to explain why, but Jameson makes the finest pickleback.
What to mix with whiskey? Drambuie!! Served on the rocks. It's intended to be a classy, slow-sipping cocktail that's perfect for after dinner.
Feel free to switch from blended to single malts and experiment with different brands, selecting a selection that is as top-shelf as you desire. Choose a bottle that is between mid-and high-end. You may also want to tweak the ratio of the two spirits to suit your taste, as well as the sort of whiskey you're using.
Steps to Make Rusty Nail
The amounts of the two ingredients, as with many simple classic cocktails, will be determined by your particular preference. The recipe's 2:1 ratio is a good starting point, although many rusty nail enthusiasts prefer a 4:1 ratio (2 ounces scotch and 1/2 ounce Drambuie).