Sign up today to receive our next box featuring King's Family Distillery out of Tennessee

8 whiskey cocktail recipes everyone should try

8 whiskey cocktail recipes everyone should try

Good news, craft spirit fans: we’re in a whiskey boom. Because the world of whiskey is constantly expanding, the list of the best cocktails to try also continues to grow. In honor of International Whiskey Day, we’re highlighting the tried-and-true cocktail recipes that have been around for ages and contribute to a well-rounded whiskey experience. From beginner to expert, these are the whiskey cocktail recipes everyone should try at least once. As an added bonus, they’re all fairly simple! 

The Old Fashioned

Did you know the Old Fashioned is the country’s very first cocktail? It was born way back in the early 1800s in Louisville, Kentucky. However you like to enjoy yours (bourbon or rye, sugar or syrup, fruit or no fruit), the recipe has a boozy, whiskey flavor with the right hint of sweetness. 

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 1 tsp simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Dash of water or club soda
  • Slice  and/or peel of orange

Directions: Combine the rye, simple syrup, bitters, water or club soda. Add ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass, twist the orange peel over the drink and then lightly brush the rim before dropping it in. 

The Boulevardier

No stranger to a Negroni? Then this recipe will look familiar. You’ll swap out gin in favor of bourbon and have the exact same drink. If you don’t enjoy an aggressively boozy cocktail, then you might want to sit this one out as a Boulevardier is assertive (and delicious). 

  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz. campari

Directions: Combine all three parts into a mixing glass with ice. Stir thoroughly. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass and serve either neat or over ice.

The Whiskey Sour

If you’re new to whiskey, a whiskey sour is a great drink to start with. The lemon juice and syrup mellows out this beginner-friendly concoction, making it a crowd favorite when it comes to acquiring a taste for whiskey. The egg white adds texture vs. strong flavor making it optional for this whiskey cocktail recipe.  

  • 3 oz. bourbon
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • Dash of egg white 

Directions: Pour all ingredients into a shaker with plenty of ice. Give it a good shake. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Pro tip: Add two ounces of club soda and you’ve got a John Collins cocktail. 

The Manhattan

This classic whiskey cocktail originated in, where else, New York. Winston Churchill’s mom was hosting a political party at the Manhattan Club in the 1870s when a guest suggested this genius mixture of spirits, or so the story goes. All we know is the Manhattan is the perfect recipe for beginners to learn the whiskey-soaked ropes. Plus, the recipe itself couldn’t be simpler: two ounces whiskey, one ounce sweet vermouth and two dashes of bitters. 

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Directions: Pour all ingredients in a mixing glass with plenty of ice. Stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass, neat, or into an Old Fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with a cherry (optional). 

The Sazerac

A Sazerac is the New Orleans version of an Old Fashioned. Louisiana’s state senator even filed a bill to make it the state’s official cocktail. What makes the drink special is the last ingredient, which adds a very subtle new flavor to the mix. Pro tip: this whiskey cocktail recipe is even better with the crop of amazing ryes that are on the market today. 

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 3-4 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
  • A splash of absinthe
  • 1 sugar cube

Directions: Take two Old Fashioned glasses and fill one with ice. In the other one, muddle the bitters, sugar and a small splash of water. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the rye, fill with ice and stir. Discard the ice from the first glass. Add the absinthe, swirl it around to coat the glass and then discard the excess. Strain the contents of the muddling glass into the absinthe-rinsed glass. Twist a lemon peel over the drink to garnish. 

The Highball

A highball is a simple and popular way of enjoying whiskey. It calls for only two ingredients which makes it a snap to memorize. The ginger ale brings a sweet accent to the whiskey making it a balanced drink. As an added bonus, all types of whiskey work well with this one so you can’t go wrong. 

  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • 6 oz. ginger ale

Directions: Gather the ingredients. Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour the whiskey into the glass. Top with ginger ale. Enjoy. Easy peasy!

The Mint Julep

If you’ve heard of the Kentucky Derby then you know about a Mint Julep. In fact, more than 80,000 mint juleps are served at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on Derby day. Mint Juleps are an iconic bourbon cocktail that call for only three ingredients! Silver or pewter cups maintain the necessary frost for a mint julep but they work just as well in any tall glass. The most important step is to use crushed ice as other forms of ice will not create the desired effect.  

  • 2.5 oz. bourbon whiskey
  • 2 sugar cubes (or ½ oz. simple syrup)
  • 4 to 5 mint sprigs (leaves only)
  • Optional mint sprig as a garnish

Directions: Put the mint leaves and sugar (or simple syrup) into a julep cup or glass. Muddle well to dissolve the sugar and release the oil and aroma of the mint. Add the bourbon. Fill with crushed ice and stir well until the glass becomes frosty. Garnish with a mint sprig. 

The Vieux Carre

There’s a lot to love about this recipe even though it’s a complex and fascinating drink for experienced whiskey fans. This cocktail is a short, slow sipper that is meant to be savored. The two bitters give it dimension along with a hint of a classic herbal liquor. Pro tip: don’t stray from the original recipe as this one is truly the best one worth trying. 

  • ¾ oz. rye whiskey
  • ¾ oz. Cognac
  • ¾ oz. sweet vermouth
  • ½ oz. Benedictine Liqueur
  • 1-2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Optional cherry garnish

Directions: Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir well. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with a cherry and serve.