There are many wonderful things to be said for whiskey cocktails. One: they’re easy to make. Two: they’re delicious. Three: that’s it. Bar the iconic Gin and Tonic, whiskey cocktails are perhaps the most traditional of cocktails - some of these are so historic we bet your great-great-great-grandparents were happily sipping them back in the day. Whiskey cocktails are as refined as a gold pocket watch, and as elegant as Audrey Hepburn.

If you hadn’t realised by now, whiskey cocktails hold a place very dear in our hearts, and now we have taken our whiskey-based libation obsession from the bar to the abode. So we have gathered our favourite ones to buck you up, calm you down, fight off illness and clear any nagging worries, lingering doubts, existential fears, and all other mental cobwebs. That is, until you sober up.

Rusty Nail

It doesn’t get more Gaelic than this take on the classic Rusty Nail. Mixing Irish whiskey with the smooth taste of Scottish Drambuie, this cocktail has been a must in gentlemen’s clubs since its inception in 1937. Blended whiskey is the traditional choice, but make sure you use a good one. We like The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey or The Dubliner. Added bonus: there’s no way you can get this one wrong.

Ingredients

  • 60 ml (2 oz.) Irish whiskey
  • 15 ml (½ oz) Drambuie
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. Combine the Scotch and Drambuie in a double Old-Fashioned glass
  2. Add lots of ice
  3. Stir

Rob Roy

We’ve swapped the conventional choice of Scotch whisky for Irish here. The change might not seem significant at first but the difference is notable and delicious. This is a drink that commands attention, so find yourself a nice sofa, curl up and enjoy. Log fire optional.

Ingredients

  • 60 ml (2 oz.) Irish whiskey
  • 20 ml (¾ oz) sweet vermouth
  • 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Brandied cherries to garnish

Steps

  1. Add the whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
  2. Strain into a chilled Nick & Nora or cocktail glass.
  3. Garnish with speared brandied cherries.

John Collins

The John Collins is to whiskey what the Tom Collins is to gin. Named after a waiter who worked at Limmer's Old House on Conduit Street in Mayfair in 1869, the John Collins was by all accounts the original Collins cocktail. Make with the best bourbon you can buy to complement the lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water. Not to be confused with The Joan Collins – A John Collins, but with no cherry.

Ingredients

  • 45 ml (1 ½ oz) bourbon whiskey
  • 30 ml (1 oz) fresh lemon juice
  • 15 ml (½ oz) simple syrup
  • 60 ml (2 fl. oz) Soda Water
  • Ice cubes
  • Slice of orange or lemon and Maraschino cherry, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Fill a Collins (or highball) glass with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in the bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup.
  3. Stir all the ingredients together with a long stirring spoon
  4. Fill the rest of the glass with soda water.
  5. Garnish using the orange slice (or lemon slice) and maraschino cherry.

Manhattan

No list of whiskey cocktails would be complete without including the iconic Manhattan cocktail. This is a classic drink that is iconic, demands respect and is always in fashion. It’s rich, strong and the go-to whiskey cocktail for us each and every time. Make a Manhattan as you would shake hands - firm grip, strong wrist, don’t overshake.

Ingredients

  • 60 ml (2 oz) rye whiskey
  • 30 ml (1 oz) Italian vermouth
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Orange peel and maraschino cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Stir the whiskey, vermouth and bitters with cracked ice in a mixing glass until chilled.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail or Nick & Nora glass.
  3. Garnish with a twist of orange peel and/or a cocktail cherry.

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee needs to be taken seriously. Most places - yes, even in Ireland - don’t know how to make this beauty. It’s time to stop thinking of Irish Coffee as a coffee with a shot of whiskey and a ton of squirty cream and begin to think of it like other cocktails. It’s about balance, quality ingredients, correct temperature and the right tools. And no, whipped cream from a can is not one of those tools.

Ingredients

  • 20 ml (¾ oz) demerara sugar syrup
  • 45 ml (1 ½ oz) The Dublin Liberties Oak Devil blended Irish whiskey
  • 120 ml (4 fl. oz) good quality espresso coffee
  • Freshly whipped cream*
  • Grated nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Pre-warm the glass by filling it with hot water 
  2. Empty glass
  3. Add liquid ingredients to the pre-warmed glass and stir.
  4. Top off with freshly whipped cream.
  5. Grate fresh nutmeg to garnish.

*Make sure you use good quality double (or whipping) cream for this and take your time whipping it up. You can try adding a little dash of whiskey liqueur to the cream if you want to add a wee bit of something nice.

Mint Julep

The Mint Julep is one of the great all-time cocktails. Stiff and thirst-quenching, there's nothing quite like it on a hot day, especially if you’re at the Kentucky Derby (it’s the de rigeur drink or didn’t you know). If you don’t have any crushed ice, then use the smallest ice cubes you can. The extra dilution chills the drink way down and takes the edge off the bourbon. Absolutely delicious.

Ingredients

  • 60 ml (2 oz) bourbon
  • 15ml (½ oz) sugar syrup
  • 10 mint leaves, a sprig for garnish
  • ice, cubes and crushed

Instructions

Put the mint leaves and sugar syrup into a highball glass or julep tin (if you have one) and gentle muddle the mint to release the flavours.

  1. Add the Bourbon.
  2. Filled with crushed ice.
  3. Churn gently with a long-handled spoon
  4. Garnish and serve.

And finally … Hot Toddy

Not really a cocktail per se, but one of our favourites nevertheless. We like nothing more than getting cosy with one of these babies, so don’t be afraid to get toddied, whatever the weather. This is one drink where measures don’t matter, so you have our blessing if you want to be a little bit liberal with this libation.

Ingredients

  • 45 ml (1 ½ oz) Single Malt Whiskey
  • 15 g (½ oz) Honey
  • Hot water to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste

Instructions

  1. Warm the mug by adding some hot water to it before emptying. This is so you begin to release the flavours of the whiskey before adding the other ingredients.
  2. Add the whiskey, followed by the honey and lemon juice.
  3. Stir to dissolve
  4. Top with hot water
If too bitter or sweet, add a touch more honey or lemon juice to taste.
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