We can’t argue with a good classic whiskey cocktail. They are tried-and-true recipes that have been around for ages and contribute to a well-rounded whiskey experience. But there’s a fine line that can be drawn when it comes to making a classic incorrectly. Vinepair asked 10 bartenders to reveal their most overrated whiskey cocktails. “From over-ordered mixed drinks to monotone, one-note flavors, there are some whiskey cocktails that are not bartenders’ favorites, for reasons spanning unbalanced proportions to pure ubiquity.” Here are the most overrated whiskey cocktails.
The top five most overrated whiskey cocktails
Even though these are classic recipes everyone should try at least once, they are the ones that landed on the overrated list:
- Whiskey Sour
- Old Fashioned
- Mint Julep
- Whiskey and Ginger
What they said about a Whiskey Sour
“I’d say the whiskey sour. It’s a great cocktail with nice balance, but to me it is tired in its classic form. To make it fun, we add some wine on top to make it a ‘New York Sour,’ or we will play with the citrus. But overall, it’s just boring.” —Joshua Lopez, Beverage Manager, Osaka Miami, Miami
“A whiskey sour without egg white, I think, is overrated. I have a love for egg white cocktails and adding that to your typical whiskey sour brings it up so many levels.” —Darren Fallon, Lead Mixologist, The Watch: Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits at The Restoration Hotel, Charleston, S.C.
What they said about an Old Fashioned
“I’ve always thought the Old Fashioned was the most overrated! Don’t get me wrong; they can be done well, but at what point are you just distracting from what should be a beautiful bourbon or whiskey with just a little extra sugar?” —Meg Hoberg, Lead Bartender, Sidebar at Bode Nashville, Nashville, Tenn.
“Old Fashioned. It’s the ‘ham and swiss’ of cocktails. Sure, they are good. Almost everyone will eat one, but you wouldn’t order it in a restaurant, would you? Every home bartender should learn to make a good Old Fashioned so they can order more sophisticatedly in bars.” —Rob Krueger, Head Bartender at John Fraser Restaurants, NYC
What they said about a Manhattan
“Manhattan; it’s had its run. There are more complex cocktails that derive from the Manhattan that better showcase the whiskey.” —Jeff Fredeen, Crush Lounge Bartender, Meritage Resort, Napa Valley, Calif.
“I think the Manhattan is really overrated. Hear me out: In 2007 and 2008, it was my go-to drink in bars and often what I sipped during first dates. I imbibed them all the time. However, after learning about so many other complex and interesting drinks that derive from the Manhattan, such as La Louisiane, the Vieux Carré and the Tipperary, I don’t understand how people can just stand the basic vermouth, rye and bitters pairing. Yes, there’s something to say for two-ingredient cocktails, but the best drinks invented usually use at least three, because it allows for more complex layering of flavors. I find the Manhattan just falls flat in comparison. A Perfect Manhattan, I can get behind that preparation. But the classic doesn’t do it for me.”—Pamela Wiznitzer, Seamstress, New York City, NY.
What they said about a Mint Julep
“Most bartenders ‘round these parts would agree that the most overrated whiskey cocktail is none other than the ubiquitous Kentucky Derby classic, the Mint Julep. Unfortunately, there’s not a great way to create balance with the core ingredients of bourbon, sugar, and mint, and oftentimes a slapdash job will end with a sad, bruised mint salad at the bottom of the glass, and dilution issues if the julep tin isn’t ripping cold and packed with pebble or crushed ice.” —SC Baker, Bartender, Bar Expo, Louisville, Ky.
What they said about a Whiskey and Ginger
“The whiskey and ginger ale combo is the most overrated whiskey cocktail. And this typically refers to American whiskey (bourbon, rye, etc.). People should look more into ordering a well-crafted Kentucky Mule. It’s basically a Moscow Mule, but instead of vodka you use American whiskey, then add a couple dashes of bitters into it. It’s much better than a simple whiskey and ginger ale.” —Anthony Baker, Mixologist and Virtual Cocktail “Professor,” NYC
If you’re over the classics and looking for a new way to enjoy different types of craft whiskey cocktails, check out RackHouse Whiskey Club. RackHouse scours the U.S. looking for the best distilleries with the most interesting stories to curate a unique subscription box filled with full-sized bottles of hard-to-find small batch whiskey. We’re building a community of premium craft whiskey drinkers and you’re invited. Join us!