16 Popular Whiskey Drinks From Simple to Indulgent

Updated December 20, 2021
Whiskey Glass On Table

Many people enjoy whiskey cocktails. There are many styles of whiskey (or whisky if you're in Scotland or Canada), and each adds its own unique taste to mixed drinks. Whiskey blends well with many mixers, so it makes sense that several popular cocktails use it.

Whiskey Sour

Refreshing Whiskey Sour Cocktail

A sour is one of the oldest types of cocktails that contains equal parts sweet and sour with two parts of a strong (in this case, whiskey). A whiskey sour is a lovely balance between whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar syrup with sweet and sour notes. Whiskey sours have been around since the late 1800s. Use any whiskey you choose here--it's nice with rye or a smooth Canadian whisky.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup.
  2. Shake to chill.
  3. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with a cherry.

Sazerac

Sazerac cocktail

Created in New Orleans, the Sazerac has a nice sweet flavor balanced by bitters, lemon, simple syrup, and herbal liqueur. All the different flavors create a lovely balance and a pleasant sweetness. People enjoy the combination of herbal and citrus flavors with warm rye or bourbon.

Ingredients

  • ¼ ounce absinthe
  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup
  • 2-3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • Ice
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Rinse rocks glass with absinthe, discarding any remainder.
  2. In a mixing glass, add rye whiskey, simple syrup, and Peychaud's bitters.
  3. Stir rapidly to chill.
  4. Strain into rocks glass, serving either neat or over fresh ice.
  5. Garnish with lemon twist.

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee

Irish coffee is a great hot drink that is particularly popular on cold winter days. Brown sugar syrup and unsweetened heavy cream blended with coffee and Irish whiskey give the drink a taste like warmed Irish cream liqueur with coffee.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Irish whiskey
  • 1 ounce brown sugar simple syrup
  • 4 ounces freshly brewed hot coffee
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (unsweetened), lightly whipped

Instructions

  1. In a coffee mug, combine the whiskey and brown sugar syrup. Stir.
  2. Add the coffee and stir.
  3. Top with the cream.

Tom and Jerry

Boozy Warm Tom and Jerry Cocktail

The Tom and Jerry is another hot whiskey drink that tastes like creamy, warm, boozy eggnog. Its creamy sweet flavors make it a very popular cocktail, especially in the winter. You can make your own Tom and Jerry batter or buy a pre-made mix at the store.

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2¼ cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • Whiskey or bourbon
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold in ½ cup of sugar.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Fold them into the egg white.
  3. Add the remaining ¾ cup of sugar and vanilla.
  4. Refrigerate, covered, until you are ready to make the drink. It will last for up to one week.
  5. To make the drink, heat one cup of milk until it is warm. Put it in a mug and stir in 1¾ ounces of whiskey or bourbon and three tablespoons of the refrigerated mix.
  6. Top each drink with freshly grated nutmeg.

Old-Fashioned

Old fashioned cocktail in a rocks glass

The old-fashioned cocktail has sugar, a splash of water, bitters, and whiskey with a twist of orange and a cherry for garnish. Typically, a strong whiskey such as bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, or rye works very well in an old-fashioned cocktail. The sweetness of the sugar cube blends beautifully with the bourbon, while the hint of orange in the garnish draws out citrus notes in the whiskey. People enjoy the balance of flavors in this drink, which was popular in the 60s and has never gone out of style.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 3-4 dashes aromatic bitters
  • ¼ ounce water
  • Ice
  • Orange twist and cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, add ice, whiskey, simple syrup, orange bitters, aromatic bitters, and water.
  2. Stir rapidly to chill.
  3. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with orange twist and cherry.

Manhattan

Manhattan cocktails

Manhattan cocktails have gained a reputation for sophistication, so many people enjoy drinking them because they have the same cachet as a martini. Manhattans are lightly sweet from the sweet vermouth, with the warming taste of good whiskey and a dash of bitters. Rye whiskey is a traditional choice for a Manhattan, but you can also try bourbon or Canadian whisky.

Ingredients

  • Crushed ice
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2½ ounces rye whiskey
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add the vermouth, whiskey, and bitters. Stir.
  3. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

Rob Roy

Rob Roy cocktail

A bartender at the Waldorf Astoria created the Rob Roy, which includes Scotch whisky, back in the 1890s. Since then, the drink has retained its popularity because of its warming properties and its dry flavors. If you like Scotch, you'll love the Rob Roy.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Scotch
  • ¾ ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ice
  • Cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a mixing glass, add ice, scotch, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters.
  3. Stir rapidly to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with cherry.

Seven and Seven

Seven and Seven Whiskey HIghball with Lemon

This cocktail is a light, refreshing American whiskey drink that owes its fizzy lightness to the addition of 7-Up (although you can use any other lemon-lime beverage you wish). The name, Seven and Seven, refers to 7-Up and Seagram's 7 Crown Whiskey (although you can also use any smooth Canadian whisky), which are its only two ingredients. The light, refreshing nature of the drink and how easy it is to make allows the Seven and Seven to remain a popular cocktail.

Ingredients

  • Crushed ice
  • 2 ounces Seagram's 7 Crown Whiskey
  • 4 ounces 7-Up
  • Lemon wedge

Instructions

  1. Fill a Collins glass with crushed ice.
  2. Add the whiskey and 7-Up. Stir.
  3. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Rusty Nail

Rusty Nail Cocktail

The rusty nail is most commonly made with a blended Scotch whisky; however, you may use a single malt Scotch if you prefer. Drambuie is a flavored Scotch-based liquor, so experiment with using more or less to vary your rusty nail to have the perfect mix.

Ingredients

  • 1-ounce blended Scotch whisky
  • 1-ounce Drambuie
  • Ice
  • Wedge of lemon for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, add the Scotch and Drambuie. Add the ice and stir.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass with ice.
  3. Garnish with lemon

Mint Julep

Mint julep

Mint juleps are sweet with a strong mint flavor. They intended to include bourbon, which adds a strong flavor that blends well with the sweetness and mint. Mint Juleps are particularly popular in the South, and they are a standard drink served at the Kentucky Derby.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • Crushed ice
  • Mint sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a Julep cup or rocks glass, muddle mint leaves with a splash of simple syrup.
  2. Add ice, bourbon, and remaining simple syrup.
  3. Stir rapidly to frost glass and chill.
  4. Garnish with mint sprig.

Scotch and Soda

Scotch and soda highball

If you love Scotch whisky but sometimes like it a little more diluted, then the classic Scotch and soda is for you! This drink works best with a blended Scotch whisky.

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 2 ounces blended Scotch whisky
  • Club soda
  • Lemon wedge (optional garnish)

Instructions

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice.
  2. Add the Scotch whisky.
  3. Top off with club soda and stir.
  4. No garnish is needed, but you may garnish with a lemon wedge if you wish.

Hot Toddy

Two Hot Toddies with Honey

Nothing will warm you up quite like a hot toddy. This centuries-old winter warmer made its way to the United States from the British colonies, and it remains a popular hot cocktail today. Use any type of whiskey you like, but blended Scotch whisky, rye, and bourbon are all especially tasty choices.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce honey or simple syrup
  • Hot water to top off
  • Lemon wheel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Warm a mug by filling with hot water.
  2. After mug is warm to touch, pour out the water.
  3. In the mug, combine the whiskey, lemon juice, honey, and hot water.
  4. Stir to combine well.
  5. Garnish with lemon wheel.

John Collins

John Collins cocktail

There are three main types of Collins drinks - John, Tom, and vodka. All are in a category of a fizz cocktail, a basic sour cocktail with a fizzy element added. While vodka Collins is relatively easy to figure out which spirit it contains, the John Collins contains American whiskey (rye or bourbon) while the Tom Collins contains gin. Otherwise, the recipe for all three is the same, and only the spirit they contain is different.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces American whiskey (bourbon or rye)
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ simple syrup
  • Ice
  • 4 ounces club soda
  • Cherry and orange slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup.
  2. Add ice and shake.
  3. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Add the club soda and stir.
  4. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.

Bobby Burns Cocktail

Bobby burns cocktail

Named for the poet Robert Burns, it's a simple stirred cocktail - no shaker necessary.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce blended Scotch whisky
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • ½ ounce Bénédictine
  • Ice
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the Scotch whisky, vermouth, and Bénédictine.
  3. Add ice and stir.
  4. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the lemon peel.

Brown Derby

Brown Derby

The Brown Derby came into being during the glamor of 1930s Hollywood. Created at the Vendôme Club, it's as American as its origins due to the American whiskey.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • ½ ounce honey syrup
  • Ice
  • Grapefruit wedge or peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the bourbon, grapefruit juice, and honey syrup.
  3. Add the ice and shake.
  4. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the grapefruit peel or wedge.

Four Horsemen

four horsemen cocktail

Can't decide which type of whiskey you're in the mood for? The Four Horsemen cocktail has you covered with a mix of Scotch whisky, bourbon, and Tennessee whiskey.

Ingredients

  • ½ ounce bourbon
  • ½ ounce whiskey
  • ½ ounce scotch
  • ½ ounce gold tequila
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, bourbon, whiskey, scotch, and gold tequila.
  2. Shake to chill.
  3. Strain into rocks glass, serving either neat or over fresh ice.

Vieux Carré

Vieux Carre Drink

This classic whiskey cocktail is the best of a New Orleans cocktail with the roots of a traditional whiskey drink.

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce rye whiskey
  • ¾ ounce cognac
  • ¾ ounce sweet vermouth
  • ¼ ounce Bénédictine
  • 2-3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 1-2 dishes aromatic bitters
  • Ice
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, add ice, rye whiskey, cognac, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, and bitters.
  2. Stir rapidly to chill.
  3. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with lemon twist.

Boulevardier

Boulevardier Drink

If gin doesn't agree with your tastebuds, but you enjoy bitter cocktails, the boulevardier is an elegant spin on the Negroni. However, unlike the Negroni, the ingredients aren't equal parts as the recipe calls for an extra half ounce of the base spirit.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • Ice and king cube
  • Orange twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, add ice, bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Campari.
  2. Stir rapidly to chill.
  3. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice or king cube.
  4. Garnish with orange twist.

New York Sour

New York Sour Cocktail

Many cocktail drinkers are well acquainted with the whiskey sour-- the New York sour has been steadily climbing out of the shadow of its brother over the years.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice
  • ¾ ounce merlot

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white.
  2. Dry shake for approximately 45 seconds to mix ingredients and create a froth.
  3. Add ice to shaker.
  4. Shake to chill.
  5. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
  6. Slowly float the merlot by pouring onto the back of a spoon. Do not mix.

Godfather

Godfather

Don't overlook this two-ingredient cocktail; it's a smokey yet slightly sweet drink that's ideal year-round.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a rocks glass, add ice, scotch, and amaretto.
  2. Stir to mix.
  3. Garnish with lemon twist.

Blood & Sand

Glass of Blood And Sand Cocktail in martini glass garnished with orange peel

Perhaps one of the most well-known Scotch cocktails, although it can skew a tad sweet because of the cherry liqueur, is an overall savory and smokey cocktail.

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce Scotch
  • ¾ ounce sweet vermouth
  • ¾ ounce cherry liqueur
  • ¾ ounce orange juice
  • Ice
  • Orange twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, scotch, sweet vermouth, cherry liqueur, and orange juice.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with orange twist.

Whiskey Smash

Whiskey Smash

The whiskey smash has been a part of the whiskey scene since the late 1800s, and it's just as deserving of its popularity as the old-fashioned.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lemon wedges
  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 5 fresh mint leaves
  • Crushed ice
  • Lemon wheel and mint sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle lemon wedges with a splash of simple syrup.
  2. Add crushed ice, whiskey, mint leaves, and remaining simple syrup.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Pour, do not strain, into rocks glass.
  5. Garnish with mint sprig and lemon wheel.

Old Pal

Old Pal Drink

A cousin of the Negroni and boulevardier, the old pal, calls for equal parts like the Negroni but opts for dry vermouth instead of the traditional sweet.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce rye
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • Ice
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a mixing glass, add ice, rye, dry vermouth, and Campari.
  3. Stir rapidly to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with lemon twist.

Toronto

Toronto Cocktail

The Toronto is a love or hate cocktail. Fernet is a heavily herbaceous and bitter spirit, and, in this popular riff on a Manhattan, those flavors have nowhere to hide.

Ingredients

  1. 2 ounces Canadian rye whisky
  2. ¼ ounce Fernet
  3. ¼ ounce simple syrup
  4. 1-2 dashes aromatic bitters
  5. Ice
  6. Orange twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, Canadian whisky, Fernet, simple syrup, and bitters.
  3. Stir rapidly to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with orange twist.

Paper Plane

Paper Plane Cocktail

Some of the best cocktails call for equal parts of ingredients; however, these ingredients in this recipe can sometimes be hard to find. The search is well worth the reward, however. In a pinch, Cynar will work for Amaro Nonino Quintessentia.

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce bourbon
  • ¾ ounce Amaro Nonino Quintessentia or Cynar
  • ¾ ounce Aperol
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Ice
  • Lemon wheel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, bourbon, Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, Aperol, and lemon juice.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with lemon wheel.

Ward Eight

Ward Eight Cocktail

While many legendary and popular whiskey drinks originated in New York City or New Orleans, the Ward Eight was born in the Hub of the Universe-- Boston.

Ingredients

  • 1¾ ounces rye whiskey
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce grenadine
  • Ice
  • Orange slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, rye, orange juice, lemon juice, and grenadine.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with orange slice.

Whiskey Mixers: From Savory to Sweet

Mixing whiskey doesn't need to be--and shouldn't be--complicated. Whether you're not necessarily looking to make a traditional cocktail or you're in a pinch, there's a world of mixers for whiskey.

  • Ginger ale or ginger beer
  • Cola
  • Club soda
  • Lemonade
  • Limeade
  • Coffee
  • Hot chocolate
  • Tea

Mix Up Delicious Whiskey Cocktails

These are just a few of the very many whiskey cocktails you can make. Add even more variation by using a delicious infused whiskey. Combining whiskey's warm and complex flavor profile with suitable mixers creates delicious drinks for all seasons.

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16 Popular Whiskey Drinks From Simple to Indulgent