Drink

How to Make 20 Very Good, Very Classic Whisky Cocktails

These are the best to be had, no matter your whisky-drinking preferences.
IMAGE TYLER JOE
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The impending holidays means it's high time to hunker down into a whisky cocktail, the kind you can feel deep in your bones. And of those, there are many. whisky cocktails to buck you up, whisky cocktails to calm you down, whisky cocktails to fight off illness, and whisky cocktails so historic your great-great-great-grandparents were happily swigging them back in the day. 

Bourbon or rye, scotch or Irishall are represented here. Stock up on a bottle or three of whichever spirit is on your mind. Some Angostura bitters wouldn't be a bad call, either.

These are whisky cocktails to hibernate to.

Photo by Tyler Joe.
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Rob Roy

A Rob Roy is simply a classic Manhattan with scotch instead of rye. Blended scotch is suggested, but what the hell, whip out a favorite single malt and give it a try.

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Ingredients

• 2 oz. blended scotch whisky
• 1 oz. Italian vermouth
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Directions

Stir the scotch, vermouth, and bitters well with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

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Brain-Duster

This combination of whisky, Italian vermouth, and absinthe travels under several names. But it was ace bartender George J. Kappeler who peered deepest into the drink's essence when, back in 1895, he named it the Brain-Duster.

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Ingredients

• 1 oz. rye whisky
• 1 oz. absinthe
• 1 oz. Italian vermouth
• 1 dash Angostura bitters

Directions

Stir rye, absinthe, and other ingredients well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Photo by Mike Garten.
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Whisky Sour

Not the kind with sour mix. This is the real deal—sour, sweet, hard to have just one.

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Ingredients

• 2 oz. whisky (bourbon or rye)
• 2/3 oz. lemon juice
• 1 tsp. superfine sugar
• 1/2 of an egg white

Directions

Shake the whisky, juice, sugar, and egg whites well with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and/or lemon wedge.

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Emerald

Not the kind with sour mix. This is the real deal—sour, sweet, hard to have just one.

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Ingredients

• 2 oz. whisky (bourbon or rye)
• 2/3 oz. lemon juice
• 1 tsp. superfine sugar
• 1/2 of an egg white

Directions

Shake the whisky, juice, sugar, and egg whites well with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and/or lemon wedge.

Photo by Tyler Joe.
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Old Fashioned

Strong and square-jawed, an Old Fashioned has just enough civilization to keep you from hollerin' like a mountain jack.

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Ingredients

• 2 oz. rye or bourbon
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters
• 1 sugar cube
• club soda

Directions

Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Wet it down with Angostura bitters and a short splash of club soda. Crush the sugar with a wooden muddler, then rotate the glass so that the sugar grains and bitters give it a lining. Add a large ice cube. Pour in the whisky. Garnish with an orange twist, and serve with a stirring rod if you're so inclined.

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Glasgow

Scotch, dry vermouth, bitters, absinthe. It's a strange drink. But that's what makes it good.

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Ingredients

• 2 oz. blended scotch whisky
• 1 oz. French vermouth
• 1 tsp. absinthe
• 1 dash Peychaud's bitters

Directions

Stir scotch, vermouth, absinthe, and Peychaud's bitters well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Photo by Tyler Joe.
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Sazerac

A classic New Orleans nightcap with the added combination of cognac and absinthe, it's smooth yet still packs a punch.

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Ingredients

• 2 1/2 oz. rye whisky
• 1 sugar cube
• 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
• 1 dash Angostura bitters
• absinthe
• lemon peel

Directions

In an Old Fashioned glass, muddle a sugar cube with a few drops of water. Add several small ice cubes, then rye whisky, Peychaud's bitters, and Angostura bitters. Stir well. Roll a few drops of absinthe around a second, chilled Old Fashioned glass until its inside is thoroughly coated. Pour off the excess. Strain the contents of the first glass into the second. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

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Irish Coffee

whisky, coffee, and sugar in a heated glass mug. For when you want to indulge multiple vices but only have time for one.

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Ingredients

• 2 oz. Irish whisky
• 5 oz. coffee
• 2 tsp. sugar
• heavy cream

Directions

Pour the whisky, coffee, and sugar into a stemmed, heated glass mug. Stir, then top off with a thick layer of lightly whipped heavy cream. If too lazy or inebriated to bother whipping the stuff, just pour an ounce or two in over the back of a spoon. In either case, don't stir it in.

Photo by Tyler Joe.
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Hot Toddy

The steaming Hot Toddy is allegedly a great cure for the common cold. Who know's if that's true, but we're certainly willing to try it.

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Ingredients

• 2 oz. bourbon
• 1 oz. honey
• 1 oz. splash lemon juice
• 4 dashes Tiki bitters
• 1 star anise pod (or tea bag)

Directions

Boil water in a teapot. Steep star anise pod or tea bag inside. Add bourbon, honey, lemon, and Tiki bitters to a mug. Stir. Serve in glass mugs with a spoon and the teapot. To enjoy, pour tea over cocktail base to taste, and stir.

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Kentucky Mule

Sure, the Moscow Mule is a great cocktail, but it's even better when it's made with bourbon.

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Ingredients

• 2 oz. bourbon
• 1/2 oz. lime juice, freshly squeezed
• 6 oz. ginger beer

Directions

Squeeze lime juice into a Moscow Mule mug (or a Collins glass) and drop in the spent shell. Add 2 or 3 ice cubes, then pour in the bourbon and fill with cold ginger beer. Garnish with mint and serve with a stirring rod.

Photo by Tyler Joe.
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Manhattan

For a real Manhattan, you need rye whisky. The harmony between the bitters, the sweet vermouth, and the sharp, musky whisky rivals even that existing between gin and tonic water.

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Ingredients

• 2 oz. rye whisky
• 1 oz. Italian vermouth
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Directions

Stir the rye, vermouth, and bitters well with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist and/or a cocktail cherry.

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Whirl-Y-Gig

Like most cocktails made with applejack brandy, this one will warm you right up.

Ingredients

• 1 1/2 oz. rye whisky
• 1 oz. applejack brandy
• 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
• 3/4 oz. simple syrup
• 4 dashes Angostura bitters
• club soda
• 1 lemon twist

Directions

Combine the rye whisky, applejack brandy, lemon juice, simple syrup and Angostura bitters into a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice and shake for about 30 seconds, or until frost appears on the outside of the shaker. Pour into a rocks glass filled with ice and top off with club soda. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Photo by Tyler Joe.
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Blood and Sand

You wouldn't expect to run across an unorthodox, scotch-based cocktail like this in the wild. But you're more than welcome to make it at home.

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Ingredients

• 3/4 oz. scotch whisky
• 3/4 oz. rosso vermouth
• 3/4 oz. cherry brandy or liqueur
• 3/4 oz. fresh orange juice

Directions

Shake all ingredients together with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

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'Rol and Rye

Sometimes it's the simplest cocktails that are the best. With a 'Rol and Rye, all you need is Aperol aperitif, rye whisky, and club soda.

Ingredients

• 1 1/2 oz. rye whisky
• 1 1/2 oz. Aperol
• club soda

Instructions

Combine the rye whisky and the Aperol in a highball glass with ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with an orange wheel.

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Millionaire

Sweet, pleasant, even jovial. In fact, judging from actual millionaires we have met, rather atypical.

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Ingredients

• 2 oz. rye whisky (Canadian)
• 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
• 1 dash grenadine
• 1 egg white

Directions

Shake ingredients with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Photo by Tyler Joe.

Mint Julep

There's an art to the perfect Mint Julep—and it's more than drinking it while you watch horses race around a track.

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Ingredients

• 3 oz. bourbon
• 5-6 mint leaves
• 1 tsp. sugar

Directions

Place mint leaves in the bottom of a pre-chilled, dry pewter cup. Add sugar and crush slightly with a muddler. Pack glass with finely cracked ice, then pour a generous 3 ounces of Kentucky bourbon over the ice. Stir briskly until the glass frosts. Add more ice and stir again before serving. Stick a few sprigs of mint into the ice to get the aroma.

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Boulevardier

Take a Negroni, swap the gin for rye, and you've got yourself a stand-up whisky cocktail called a Boulevardier.

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Ingredients

• 1 1/2 oz. rye whisky
• 3/4 oz. Campari
• 3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

Directions

Stir ingredients with ice, then strain into a coupe glass. Serve up and garnish with an orange twist.

Photo by TYLER JOE.
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Paper Plane

This is a new-age bourbon cocktail—yes, named for that song—that'll be dead easy for you to remember how to make.

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Ingredients

• 3/4 oz. bourbon
• 3/4 oz. Aperol
• 3/4 oz. Amaro Nonino Quintessentia
• 3/4 oz. lemon juice

Directions

Shake ingredients well with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

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Chancellor

The Chancellor is dry and slightly mysterious—not unlike a perfect Manhattan, with port for the sweet vermouth and scotch for the rye.

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Ingredients

• 2 oz. blended Scotch whisky
• 1 oz. ruby port
• 1/2 oz. French vermouth
• 2 dashes orange bitters

Directions

Stir well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass; it should pour a luminous garnet red.

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Gold Rush

The 21st century's answer to the whisky sour, this simple cocktail is basically just an ice-cold Hot Toddy.

Ingredients

• 2 oz. bourbon
• 3/4 oz. lemon juice
• 3/4 oz. honey

Directions

Combine the ingredients into a shaker and shake vigorously for 15 second. Pour into a rocks glass over ice. No need to garnish.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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