New to the whiskey world? If your first question to ponder is how to drink whiskey, going with a cocktail first is a way to start acquiring a taste. Novice whiskey drinkers may like this option the best as it eases them into acquiring a taste for the bold spirit. Trying a classic cocktail is also preferred for people who simply don’t like the taste of the whiskey by itself. Manhattan, Hot Toddy, Whiskey Sour or an Old Fashioned are all popular cocktail recipes but what do you mix with whiskey to make these classics? Paired with a good mixer allows the versatility of the spirit to really shine. Sweet, spicy, savory or smoky, these are the six best whiskey mixers to try along with a recommended recipe.
Can you guess one of the oldest mixers around? That’s right, it’s club soda! The classic Whiskey Highball originated in the early 1900s and is still popular to this day. Whiskey Gingers are another classic whiskey cocktail but the sweet soda flavor can often cover up the intricate flavors of whiskey. Because club soda has a neutral flavor, you’ll really be able to taste the different notes. The pairing works best with bolder whiskies or ones with a sweet side. For an additional citrusy twist, squeeze a lemon into it.
Recommended cocktail recipe: ‘Rol and Rye
An easy way to transition from a standard Moscow Mule is to swap the vodka for bourbon and you’re set. A simple bourbon and ginger beer is a classic entry-level combination you can’t go wrong with. Ginger is the perfect sidekick for whiskey because the spicy notes of the liquor meld into the subtle sweet and bubbly notes of the ginger beer.
Recommended cocktail recipe: Kentucky Buck
Vermouth takes after whiskey in that it has a great depth of character. Sweet vermouth offers notes of vanilla, orange and clove while dry vermouth has a more herbal flavor. Quite a few cocktail recipes mix whiskey and sweet vermouth but perhaps none quite as a Manhattan. The drink was invented in the 1870s at a club called The Manhattan Club in New York City, hence the name. Flavor-wise it’s just a winning combination with vanilla and oak notes from the whiskey, sweet and spicy from the vermouth, and bitter and herby from the bitters.
Recommended cocktail recipe: The Manhattan
Is there a more refreshing drink during the summer than lemonade? Spike it with bourbon or another favorite whiskey for an easy breezy go-to adult drink. The tangy sweetness of the lemonade pairs well with the malted flavor of the whiskey. As an added bonus, there are many cocktail recipes where you can use lemonade as a whiskey mixer any time of year.
Recommended cocktail recipe: Whiskey Sour Lemonade
Keeping with the seasonal trend, the best whiskey mixer for fall is freshly pressed apple cider. The versatility of this whiskey mixer is what makes it so great. The zesty juice enhances whiskey’s oaky notes and brings out the natural caramel sweetness. Hot or cold, any whiskey paired with apple cider tastes amazing.
Recommended cocktail recipe: Branded Rye and Apple Punch
Although we already mentioned lemonade, citrus requires its own additional entry. Whether it’s lemon, orange, grapefruit or lime, most citrus fruits go exceptionally well with whiskey. Every one of the classic whiskey cocktails, including a Whiskey Sour, Hot Toddy, Penicillin, Kentucky Mule and an Old Fashioned all include some type of citrus fruit juice or garnish. Most of the time this whiskey mixer brings a sweet tang that mellows out the boozy nature of whiskey.
Recommended cocktail recipe: Blood Orange Jalapeño Whiskey Cocktail
You’ll need a good whiskey to pair with the mixers so 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!