A side shot of an Old Fashioned cocktail in an old-fashioned glass on a wooden tray placed on a table surrounded by cocktail tools and whiskey bottle.

30 Classic Whiskey Cocktails—Simple Recipes for Any Season

Many love the taste of whiskey cocktails, from classic mixes to new ones. Whether enjoying a quiet drink or having fun with friends, these drinks make whiskey shine.

Whiskey cocktails are some of the best drinks out there. There’s something for every taste, from classic mixes using bourbon, rye whiskey, and scotch to newer ones with Japanese whisky. The best part? Making these mixed drinks at home is easy and simple as some recipes only require 2 ingredients! So, whether you’re looking for names of cool summer sips, cozy fall blends, or festive Christmas mixes, whiskey cocktails have got you covered.

Our top 10 whiskey-based cocktails: Our top pick is the timeless Old Fashioned, closely followed by the refreshing Whiskey Sour. The Mint Julep is a classic that always stays in style, especially during horse racing season. Then there’s the Manhattan, a sophisticated blend always a hit at gatherings. The Irish Coffee, with its comforting warmth, is a beloved choice, while the Highball offers a simple yet satisfying sip. The Rob Roy brings a touch of Scotch elegance, and the Boulevardier introduces a bittersweet twist. Rounding out our top 10 are the Rusty Nail and the Sazerac.

30 Best Whiskey Cocktails & Drinks

Our DrinksWorld experts have compiled a list of the best classic whiskey cocktails, featuring recipes that use different types of whiskey. Additionally, our production team has created easy-to-follow instruction videos and step-by-step images to guide you through making these cocktails. Click on a cocktail to go to a specific whiskey cocktail recipe page. Check out our best cocktails page if you are looking for more recipe ideas for whipping up cocktails.

Old Fashioned

A side shot of an Old Fashioned cocktail in an old-fashioned glass on a coaster placed on a beige table with a bar spoon and an orange twist on the side.

The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail known for its balance of sweetness, bitterness, and the warmth of whiskey. A fun fact: the Old Fashioned is often considered one of the oldest known cocktails, with references to it dating back to the early 1800s!

Ingredients: Whiskey, Sugar cube, Angostura bitters, Orange twist, ice.

Whiskey Sour

A side shot of a Whiskey Sour cocktail in a Old Fashioned glass with some oranges in the background

The Whiskey Sour is a refreshing blend of sour and sweet. It has a tangy lemon flavor combined with the smoothness of whiskey. Did you know? This drink has its national day in the U.S., celebrated on August 25th yearly!

Ingredients: Whiskey, Fresh lemon juice, Sugar, Ice.

Mint Julep

A side shot of a Mint Julep cocktail in a julep cup on a black stone coaster surrounded by sugar cubes, a straw and mint leaves, placed on a white marmol table, with some cocktail tools behind in front of a white wall.

The Mint Julep is a cool, minty cocktail especially popular in the southern United States. It’s famously associated with the Kentucky Derby horse race, where over 120,000 Mint Juleps are served over the two-day event!

Ingredients: Whiskey, Fresh mint leaves, Sugar, Water, Ice.

Manhattan

A side shot of a Manhattan cocktail in a cocktail glass on a brown wooden table in front of a bar spoon, a mixing glass and a jigger.

The Manhattan cocktail combines the depth of whiskey with the sweetness of vermouth. It’s believed to have been created in the late 19th century in New York City, specifically at the Manhattan Club, hence its name.

Ingredients: Whiskey, Sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, Maraschino cherry.

Irish Coffee

A side shot of a Irish Coffee in a mug on a wooden table surrounded by coffee beans, a jigger and a bar spoon, in front of a white wall.

Irish Coffee is a delightful mix of coffee, whiskey, sugar, and cream. It was created in the 1940s in Ireland to warm up American tourists on cold, rainy nights. It’s not just a cocktail but also a dessert in a glass!

Ingredients: Whiskey, Hot coffee, Sugar, Heavy cream.

Highball

A side shot of a Whiskey Highball cocktail in a highball glass on a coaster with a jigger on a side, placed on a table in front of an orange wall.

The Highball is a refreshing cocktail that pairs whiskey with ginger ale or club soda. It’s named after the tall glass it’s served in. This drink became popular in the early 20th century and is a go-to for many whiskey lovers.

Ingredients: Whiskey, Ginger ale or Club soda, Ice.

Rob Roy

A side shot of a Rob Roy cocktail in a coupe glass on a white coaster placed on a black table surrounded by a jigger, a bar spoon and a striped white cloth

Description: The Rob Roy is often called the “Scotch Manhattan.” It was created in 1894 in New York City and named after the Scottish folk hero and the subject of an operetta.

Ingredients: Scotch whisky, Sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, Maraschino cherry.

Rusty Nail

A side shot of a Rusty Nail cocktail in old fashioned glass on a black table surrounded by three lemons, a jigger, a plant, and a white cloth.

The Rusty Nail is a smooth cocktail with a hint of honey sweetness from the Drambuie, a Scotch-based liqueur. It gained popularity in the 1960s and is known for its golden color.

Ingredients: Scotch whisky, Drambuie.

Boulevardier

A side shot of a Boulevardier cocktail in an old fashioned glass surrounded by an orange twist, oranges and a jigger, on a brown wooden table and a yellow wall as background.

The Boulevardier is often described as a whiskey version of the Negroni. It’s a sophisticated blend of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Campari. The cocktail’s name means “man about town” in French and reflects its classy nature. This whiskey cocktail is often made in a batch to serve a bigger crowd.

Ingredients: Whiskey, Sweet vermouth, Campari.

Sazerac

A side shot of a Sazerac cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a coaster surrounder by a bar spoon and lemon wedges, with plant leaves on a side.

The Sazerac is a New Orleans classic with a rich history. It’s believed to be one of the oldest American cocktails. The unique rinse of absinthe gives it a distinct flavor.

Ingredients: Rye whiskey, Sugar cube, Peychaud’s bitters, Absinthe, Lemon twist.

Hot Toddy

A sido shot if a Hot Toddy cocktail in a mug on a brown wooden table with a cinnamon stick on the side and orange slices behind.

The Hot Toddy is a warm, comforting drink often enjoyed in colder months. Some believe it has medicinal properties and can help with colds. It’s like a hug in a mug!

Ingredients: Whiskey, Hot water, Honey, Lemon slice, Cloves.

Whiskey Smash

The Whiskey Smash is a citrusy and minty cocktail similar to the Mint Julep but with added lemon. It’s like a whiskey lemonade with a minty twist!

Ingredients: Whiskey, Fresh mint leaves, Lemon wedges, Sugar.

Godfather

A side shot of a Godfather cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a wooden coaster placed on a tiled surface surrounded by a bowl with two orange wedges, a bar spoon, and a white cloth

The Godfather is a strong and straightforward cocktail. It was popularized in the 1970s, possibly inspired by the famous movie of the same name.

Ingredients: Scotch whisky, Amaretto.

Ward Eight

A Ward Eight cocktail, shot from above, in a cocktail glass on a black stone coaster placed on a white table with a book, a bowl with lemons, and a salmon cloth with a plate full with maraschino cherries around, in front of a turquoise wall.

The Ward Eight is a fruity cocktail with a hint of citrus. It originated in Boston in the early 20th century and was named after a political ward in the city.

Ingredients: Whiskey, Fresh lemon juice, Fresh orange juice, Grenadine.

Blood and Sand

A side shot of a Blood and Sand cocktail in a cocktail glass on a wooden tray surrounded by two half oranges, a jigger and a bar spoon

The Blood and Sand is named after a 1922 silent film. It’s a unique cocktail that combines the smokiness of scotch with the sweetness of cherry and orange.

Ingredients: Scotch whisky, Cherry liqueur, Sweet vermouth, Fresh orange juice.

Penicillin

A side shot of a Penicillin cocktail in a rocks glass on a wooden tray surrounded by three lemons, a jigger, a shaker, and a bowl with ginger and lemon.

The Penicillin cocktail is a modern classic known for its blend of smoky, sweet, and citrus flavors. It’s often hailed as a remedy for the common cold, much like its namesake.

Ingredients: Scotch whisky, Fresh lemon juice, Honey-ginger syrup, Islay Scotch (for float).

New York Sour

A side shot of a New York Sour cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a beige cloth with a lemon on a side placed on a table.

The New York Sour is a delightful twist on the classic Whiskey Sour, topped with a splash of red wine. It’s a beautifully layered drink with a blend of flavors and a striking appearance.

Ingredients: Whiskey, Fresh lemon juice, Sugar, Red wine.

Horse’s Neck

A side shot of an Horse's Neck cocktail in highball glass on a black stone coaster placed on a orange cloth on a white table surrounded by ginger pieces, orange pieces, a jigger, and a bar spoon.

The Horse’s Neck is a refreshing highball with a long spiral lemon twist resembling a horse’s neck. It became popular in the late 19th century and is known for its elegant presentation.

Ingredients: Bourbon or Rye whiskey, Ginger ale, Lemon twist.

Brown Derby

A side shot of a Brown Derby cocktail in a cocktail glass on a wooden board on a wooden table surrounded by a green cloth, a strainer, two orange wedges, and a shaker.

Named after the famous Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, this cocktail is a sweet and tangy mix that captures the glamour of old Hollywood.

Ingredients: Bourbon, Fresh grapefruit juice, Honey syrup.

Seelbach

A side shot of a Seelbach cocktail in a champagne flute on a white marmol table surrounded by a jigger, a bar spoon, and a striped white cloth

The Seelbach is a sparkling cocktail named after the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. Thanks to the champagne, it’s a festive drink with a touch of elegance.

Ingredients: Bourbon, Cointreau, Angostura bitters, Peychaud’s bitters, champagne.

Lynchburg Lemonade

A side shot of a Lynchburg Lemonade cocktail in a highball glass surrounded by lemon wedges on a blue table, with some cocktail tools behind and in front of a yellow wall.

Hailing from Lynchburg, Tennessee, the home of Jack Daniel’s, this cocktail is a refreshing mix of sweet, sour, and a little bit of fizz. Perfect for a hot day!

Ingredients: Whiskey, Triple sec, Fresh lemon juice, Lemon-lime soda.

Gold Rush

A side shot of a Gold Rush cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a wooden board surrounded by a strainer, two lemon pieces, a shaker, and a white striped cloth

The Gold Rush is a modern cocktail reminiscent of the classic Whiskey Sour but with a sweet touch of honey. It’s like liquid gold in a glass!

Ingredients: Bourbon, Fresh lemon juice, Honey syrup.

John Collins

A side shot of a John Collins cocktail in highball glass on a coaster placed on a white cloth on a beige table surrounded by a straw, four lemons, and a shaker

The John Collins is a tall, refreshing drink that’s a sibling to the famous Tom Collins. The main difference? The John uses whiskey instead of gin. It’s a classic that dates back to the 19th century.

Ingredients: Bourbon, Fresh lemon juice, Sugar, Club soda.

Black Hawk

A side shot of a Black Hawk cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a white coaster placed on a light blue table surrounded by a bowl with lemon pieces, a jigger, a shaker, and a white cloth

The Black Hawk is a fruity cocktail that pairs the depth of whiskey with the sweetness of blackberries. It’s a delightful mix that’s both vibrant and flavorful.

Ingredients: Bourbon, Sloe gin, Fresh lemon juice.

Stone Fence

The Stone Fence is a simple highball that dates back to colonial America. It’s a rustic blend of apple cider and whiskey, perfect for autumn evenings.

Ingredients: Whiskey, Apple cider.

Top 8 Whiskey Brands for Cocktails

If you want to make amazing whiskey cocktails, these 8 whiskey brands are perfect for you:

1. Jack Daniel’s

Jack Daniel’s is a famous whiskey from Tennessee. It’s smooth and has a unique taste because of a special filtering method. People love using it in drinks like the Whiskey Sour.

2. Jameson

Jameson comes from Ireland and is known around the world. It’s made in a way that makes it smooth. It’s great in drinks like the Irish Coffee.

3. Maker’s Mark

This is a sweet-tasting bourbon from Kentucky. It’s known for flavors like caramel and vanilla. It’s often used in drinks like the Old Fashioned.

4. Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich is a type of Scotch from Scotland. It tastes like pears and apples. It’s good in drinks like the Rob Roy.

5. Bulleit

Bulleit makes both bourbon and rye whiskeys. They’re strong and spicy, so many people like them in bold drinks like the Manhattan.

6. Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey is a strong bourbon with flavors like caramel and spice. Made in Kentucky, it’s great for drinks with strong whiskey flavor.

7. Chivas Regal

Chivas Regal is a mix of different Scotch whiskies. It’s smooth and has flavors like honey. It’s used in classy drinks like the Rusty Nail.

8. Crown Royal

Crown Royal is from Canada and is smooth. It even comes in a cool velvet bag. It’s good in many different drinks because of its vanilla and fruit flavors.

9. Jim Beam

Jim Beam is a well-known whiskey from Kentucky. It’s known for its rich flavor from aging in charred oak barrels. Many enjoy it in drinks like the Old Fashioned.

Types of whiskey

Whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Different grains like barley, corn, rye, and wheat can be used. The type of grain and the production process give each whiskey its unique flavor and character. We’ll take a look at everything from smooth Kentucky Bourbons to peaty Scotch whiskies and more, showing what makes each one special and loved by whiskey fans all over:

  • Scotch Whisky comes from Scotland and is often simply called scotch. It’s made primarily from malted barley and aged in oak barrels for at least three years. There are subtypes like Single Malt and Blended Scotch.
  • Bourbon is an American whiskey and must be made from at least 51% corn. It’s known for its caramel and vanilla notes, resulting from the new charred oak barrels it’s aged.
  • Rye Whiskey can be made both in the U.S. and Canada. The American version must be made from at least 51% rye grain, giving it a spicier flavor than bourbon.
  • Irish whiskey hails from Ireland. It’s typically triple-distilled, resulting in a smoother spirit. Brands like Jameson are renowned worldwide.
  • Canadian Whisky, often called “rye,” is smooth and light irrespective of its grain content. Brands like Crown Royal are popular examples.
  • Tennessee Whiskey is similar to bourbon but is filtered through sugar maple charcoal before aging, known as the Lincoln County Process. Jack Daniel’s is a famous brand of this type.
  • Japanese Whisky is inspired by Scotch whisky and has gained international acclaim for its quality and flavor profiles. Brands like Yamazaki and Hibiki are well-known.
  • Single Pot Still Whiskey is unique to Ireland. It’s made from a mix of malted and unmalted barley, giving it a creamy texture and rich, spicy flavor.

The importance of Angostura bitters in whiskey cocktails

Angostura bitters are key in making whiskey cocktails taste better. They add a special touch with their mix of herbs and spices. This little bit of bitterness balances the strong flavor of whiskey. For example, in classic mixes with whiskey like the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan, just a few drops can really change the flavor, making the whiskey stand out more and adding a nice smell. So, if you love making whiskey cocktails, using Angostura bitters is a must to take your drinks to the next level.

Let’s take a look at the best Angostura brands on the market.

Choosing a favorite depends on the specific needs and preferences of the user. For example, if you’re looking for a versatile, classic bitter that can be used in many cocktails, Angostura would be a great choice. However, Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6 might be more suitable if you’re experimenting with more citrus-based cocktails.

  1. Angostura Aromatic Bitters: This famous brand started in 1824. Its big label and a special mix of herbs and spices stand out. It’s sweet, bitter, and spicy. The most iconic use of this brand is in the Old Fashioned.
  2. Peychaud’s Bitters: From New Orleans, Peychaud’s is a bit sweeter and lighter than Angostura. It’s famous for the Sazerac cocktail and has strong flavors of anise and cherry. It’s best known for its role in the Sazerac.
  3. Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6: Made by cocktail expert Gary Regan, this one has a strong orange taste. It’s great for drinks that need a citrus kick and is less bitter than traditional bitters. This brand can be used in a Whiskey Sour to add that citrusy twist.
  4. Fee Brothers: They make many flavors, including traditional bitters and unique ones like peach and chocolate. Their bitters are less alcoholic and use glycerin, giving them a different feel. Their peach bitters add a fruity dimension to a Whiskey Smash.
  5. Bitter Truth: This German brand makes strong, high-quality bitters. They have a traditional variety and many other flavors. People like them for their authentic taste. Their traditional aromatic bitters complement the sweet vermouth in the Manhattan.

More whiskey drinks

On Drinks World, we’ve got a range of cocktails for each type of whiskey. Here are some of our best collections:

Whiskey cocktails for every season

Let’s dive into whiskey cocktails for every season. We’ve got a bunch of great drinks perfect for each time of year. From cool summer refreshers to warm winter drinks, there’s a whiskey cocktail for every occasion and mood.

  • Winter whiskey cocktails – Drinks like Hot Toddies and Whiskey Sours with a hint of cinnamon are popular. These cozy cocktails are perfect for holiday gatherings and dinings, such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve, where they bring warmth and cheer.
  • Summer whiskey cocktails – During summer, whiskey cocktails tend to be lighter and more refreshing. Favorites include Whiskey Lemonades and Mint Juleps, which are great for outdoor events like Fourth of July barbecues or relaxed summer evenings.

Let’s not forget about the wide array of other liquor cocktails. From the crispness of vodka to the boldness of tequila and the sweetness of rum, at DrinksWorld we also explore how these spirits create their own unique cocktail experiences. Learn more about Rum Cocktails, Vodka Cocktails and Tequila Cocktails.

Canned whiskey cocktails

Pre-mixed whiskey drinks are great for easy sipping. High West makes a ready-to-drink Old Fashioned that tastes like the real deal. On The Rocks offers different whiskey drinks, like a Manhattan or a Whiskey Sour, right out of the bottle. Cutwater Spirits has a cool Whiskey Highball in a can. But the ones we like are the Bulleit Crafted Cocktails, the brand offers manhattan and old fashioned straight from the bottle.

FAQs

  1. What’s the top whiskey cocktail people choose? The Old Fashioned is often considered the most popular whiskey cocktail.
  2. What are some good mixers for whiskey? Standard mixers include ginger ale, club soda, and lemon-lime soda.
  3. Are there things I shouldn’t mix with whiskey? It’s best to avoid mixing whiskey with overly sweet or creamy beverages, as they can overpower the whiskey’s flavor.
  4. How can I enjoy whiskey in different ways? Whiskey can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or as a base in various cocktails.
  5. Is bourbon different from other whiskies? Yes, bourbon is a type of whiskey made primarily from corn and has specific production regulations.
  6. Why do some people add ice to their whiskey? Ice can chill and dilute the whiskey, often mellowing out its flavors and making it smoother.
  7. What’s the reason for adding a water drop to whiskey? A drop of water can open up the whiskey’s aromas and flavors, enhancing the overall tasting experience.
  8. What does “waterback” mean in the context of drinks? A waterback refers to a drink served with a separate glass of water on the side, which can be sipped alternately.
  9. How important is the age of the whiskey in a cocktail? Older whiskies can add more depth and character, but the nuances might be lost in some mixed drinks.
  10. Why are some whiskey cocktails stirred and not shaken? Stirring gently mixes the ingredients without diluting or aerating them too much, preserving the whiskey’s character.
  11. What glassware is best for whiskey cocktails? Common choices are the Old Fashioned glass, whiskey tumbler, or cocktail coupe, depending on the cocktail.
  12. How do bitters affect a whiskey cocktail? Bitters can add depth and complexity, balancing the sweetness and enhancing the whiskey’s flavor.
  13. Why do some whiskey cocktails have fruit garnishes? Fruit garnishes can add aroma, flavor, and visual appeal to the drink.

Simple Whiskey Cocktails: Whiskey Sour Recipe (and 29 More!)

Check out this basic Whiskey Sour recipe! It blends whiskey, lemon, and syrup for a smooth drink.

Whiskey Sour Cocktail Drink

Whiskey Sour Recipe

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Elevate your evening with this classic whiskey sour recipe! Blending Whiskey, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup, this timeless cocktail hits all the right notes for a cozy night in.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 2 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 194

Ingredients
 

  • 2 oz Whiskey
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon slice or cherry - for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Shaker
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Old Fashioned Glass
  • Strainer if you don't want ice in your final drink

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Fill your Old Fashioned glass with ice cubes to chill it.
  • Add Angostura Bitters: Add 2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters to the shaker.
  • Add Simple Syrup: Measure and pour ½ oz simple syrup into the shaker.
  • Add Lemon Juice: Follow with ¾ oz fresh lemon juice.
  • Add Whiskey: Pour 2 oz Whiskey into the shaker.
  • Prep Shaker: Fill the shaker halfway with ice cubes.
  • Shake: Give everything a vigorous shake for about 10-15 seconds.
  • Strain: Strain the mixture into your Old Fashioned glass filled with fresh ice cubes.
  • Garnish: Place a lemon slice or cherry on top for garnish.

Notes

Substitutes: 

  • Whiskey: If I'm out of traditional Whiskey, I've used bourbon for a sweeter profile or rye for a spicier kick. 
  • Simple Syrup: I've swapped simple syrup with maple syrup or honey in a pinch. Both give unique flavor spins to the drink. 
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh is best, but bottled lemon juice can work if fresh lemons aren't available. Just be mindful of the tartness and adjust to taste.

Making a Pitcher of Whiskey Sour:

  • Scale: To create a pitcher that serves 8, multiply all ingredients by 8. This means 16 oz of Whiskey, 6 oz of lemon juice, 16 dashes of Angostura Bitters and 4 oz of simple syrup. 
  • Mix: Combine the Whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a large pitcher. Stir thoroughly. 
  • Serve: Pour the concoction into ice-filled Old Fashioned glasses, garnish with a lemon slice or cherry, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Whiskey Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic whiskey or a smoky tea, like Lapsang Souchong, steeped strongly and cooled. 
  • Proceed As Usual: Use the non-alcoholic whiskey substitute instead of regular Whiskey, and follow the original steps to enjoy a non-alcoholic Whiskey Sour.

Making it Vegan:

Some whiskey sour recipes call for egg white to give a frothy texture. If you're vegan or avoiding raw egg:
  • Aquafaba Alternative: Use aquafaba, the brine from a can of chickpeas. It acts similarly to egg white when shaken and gives that frothy texture without the use of animal products. Just add about 1 oz to your shaker before shaking.

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