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22 Classic Whiskey Cocktails to Try

Classic whiskey cocktails blend timeless flavors with a hint of sophistication, perfect for any whiskey lover or those new to spirited drinks. I’ve mixed and tasted a variety, finding each offers a unique balance of tradition and flair. Enjoy the smoothness of bourbon or the boldness of rye in drinks that cater to all tastes. These recipes are my go-to for impressing guests or unwinding. They’re not just drinks; they’re an exploration of whiskey’s rich palette. Check out this roundup for some top-notch whiskey mixes.

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Rob Roy

rob roy whiskey cocktail

The Rob Roy is a classic whiskey cocktail that is similar to the Manhattan but with a Scotch whisky base instead of bourbon. The sweet vermouth wonderfully counterbalances the strong, smokey flavor of the Scotch whiskey. Bitters complete the flavor profile and give the Rob Roy its characteristic flavor by giving the beverage a spicy bite. Its unique blend of flavors and elegant presentation make it a must-try for anyone looking to explore the world of whiskey cocktails.


Sazerac

a glass of Sazerac cocktail with ingredients as background

The Sazerac is a well-known whiskey drink with a rich and assertive taste profile that was invented in New Orleans. The sugar cube’s sweetness is a nice counterpoint to the spiciness of the rye whiskey. Absinthe lends the cocktail its signature anise flavor, subtle bitterness, and herbal undertones. If you’re wanting to broaden your palate in terms of taste and cocktail knowledge, you owe it to yourself to try one of the best vintage whiskey cocktails, which is a Sazerac.


Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour cocktail recipe

Bourbon, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, Angostura bitters, and egg white come together to create the traditional drink, the Whiskey Sour. The sweetness of the simple syrup and the sharpness of the lemon juice combine to create a flavor that is both sweet and sour and well balanced. The egg white produces a creamy and foamy texture, while the Angostura bitters offer a little bitterness. One of the finest whiskey drinks is the Whiskey Sour, which has been around for a very long time.


Boulevardier

a glass of boulevardier cocktail

The Boulevardier is a drink that is ideal for those who appreciate bitter tastes. The sweetness of the vermouth and the smokiness of the bourbon counteract the bitterness and strength of the Campari. The final outcome is a flavor that is subtle, powerful, and complex. The Boulevardier is a unique and strong whiskey drink that is great for people who like complex tastes.


Brooklyn

Brooklyn
source: liquor.com

The Brooklyn is an old-school drink that is famous for having a flavor that is all its own and quite complex. The floral and somewhat bitter flavors of the dry vermouth counteract the warm and spicy flavor of the rye whiskey. The Amer Picon lends a very bitter and fragrant flavor that unites all the components, while the maraschino liqueur gives a sweet and fruity flavor. If you are looking for a whiskey cocktail with a unique taste, Brooklyn is definitely worth trying.


Vieux Carre

Vieux Carre Cocktail

Experience the exquisite flavor of a classic Vieux Carre cocktail, expertly crafted with a captivating blend of ingredients. This classy and well-balanced drink is made with rye whiskey, cognac, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, Angostura, and Peychaud’s bitters. If you are looking to expand your palate and explore the world of mixology, the Vieux Carre is definitely worth trying.


Ward Eight

ward eight decorated with citrus lemon in martini cocktails glass

Traditional whiskey cocktails like the Ward Eight strike a nice balance between sweet and sour. The rye whiskey gives it a peppery taste, while the citrus juices brighten it up. The grenadine syrup adds a delicious flavor, and the speared cherries are the perfect garnish. Drinking this cocktail will give you a refreshing, citrusy taste that is perfect for any occasion.


Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee is a traditional drink with a cozy, warming taste. While brown sugar lends the coffee a little sweetness, the Irish whiskey gives it a smooth, smokey flavor. The whipped cream gives the beverage a silky texture and a hint of creaminess. You can anticipate a comfortable, delicious experience with an ideal combination of sweet and bitter tastes while drinking Irish coffee. For everyone who likes the taste of Irish whiskey and coffee, this traditional drink is a must-try.


Highball

two highball cocktails

A highball is a simple and classic cocktail made with rye whiskey and a splash of ginger ale. Crisp and clean, with a light rye whiskey bite, that’s what you’ll get when you sip on a Highball. If you’re in the mood for a simple cocktail that still tastes great, this is the one for you. This is one of the whiskey cocktail recipes that is highly adaptable, so you could use bourbon or rye whiskey, or add extra flavor where needed.


Mint Julep

Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe

The Mint Julep is a traditional drink that never goes out of style. The sweetness of the simple syrup balances out the bourbon’s robust flavor, and the fresh mint leaves’ aftertaste is energizing and lingering. It’s light and simple to drink, making it the ideal cocktail for a hot summer day.


Gold Rush

gold rush cocktail

The Gold Rush is a traditional drink that is both refreshing and sophisticated, offering the ideal combination of sweet and sour ingredients. This cocktail is not overly sweet or too sour, but rather a perfect combination of both, creating a unique and delightful taste that lingers in the mouth. The Gold Rush is a time-honored cocktail that never fails to please, whether you’re a whiskey aficionado or not.


Brown Derby

brown derby drink

The Brown Derby is a delicious drink for whiskey lovers who also want a little sweetness. The drink’s warm, silky flavor is provided by the bourbon, while the tangy, reviving citrus flavor of the grapefruit juice. The drink is well balanced by the honey syrup, which adds a delicate sweetness to round out the flavors. With its bold and complex taste, it is no wonder why this cocktail has remained a popular choice for cocktail lovers for decades.


Milk Punch

bourbon milk punch cocktail

Milk Punch is a classic cocktail that is creamy, sweet, and packs a punch of bourbon. With a combination of bourbon, whole milk, vanilla extract, and sweetener, it’s a simple yet sophisticated drink that will satisfy your sweet tooth while giving you a warm buzz. If you enjoy bourbon or are just in the mood for something sweet, give Milk Punch a shot.


Rusty Nail

a glass of rusty nail

The Rusty Nail is a traditional drink that highlights the deep and intricate tastes of Scotch whiskey. The Scotch contributes a smoky, peaty, and oaky flavor, while the Drambuie brings a sweet, spicy, and honeyed element to the table. This drink’s powerful and well-balanced taste comes from the harmonious combination of these components.


Old Pal 

old pal cocktail with campari, sweet vermouth and rye whiskey

The Old Pal has a flavor that is robust, dry, and bitter, which is certain to bring one’s senses into action. The dry vermouth offers a hint of herbal bitterness, while the rye whiskey adds a strong, spicy taste. However, the Campari, with its distinctive and powerful bitterness that lingers on the tongue, is what really distinguishes this cocktail. It’s the perfect drink for those who want to step outside of their comfort zone and explore the more daring side of cocktail culture.


Penicillin 

penicillin cocktail

The penicillin drink has a sophisticated and tantalizing taste profile. When you take a sip of Penicillin, you’ll first notice the sweetness of the honey-ginger syrup, followed by the citrusy tang of the fresh lemon juice. Try it out for yourself to see why bartenders and cocktail fans alike love this drink so much.


Paper Plane 

paper plane cocktail

The Paper Plane’s striking hue and intricate taste profile have helped it establish itself as a contemporary classic in the whiskey cocktail industry. The bittersweet flavors of Aperol and Amaro counterbalance the inherent sweetness of bourbon, while freshly squeezed lemon juice adds a tangy, lemony kick. Shake it well in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain for a chilled whisky cocktail. So if you’re looking for a unique and delicious whiskey cocktail, give the Paper Plane a try!


Godfather 

godfather cocktail

Whiskey lovers who appreciate both the sweetness of amaretto and the robustness of scotch whisky will enjoy The Godfather, a traditional whiskey cocktail. If you’re looking for a smooth whiskey cocktail, the Godfather is a fantastic option. Its sweet and mellow taste makes it a favorite among whiskey drinkers and bartenders.


Whiskey Smash

whiskey smash cocktail

A flexible and simple drink that works for every occasion is the whiskey smash. Whiskey, simple syrup, and lemon wedges give the cocktail a sweet and sour flavor, and the addition of fresh mint leaves gives it a faint note of freshness. It is a crowd-pleaser that never goes out of style thanks to its well-balanced tastes and refreshing flavor.


New York Sour

new york sour cocktail

The New York Sour is a classic whiskey cocktail that is sure to impress both whiskey and wine enthusiasts alike. The combination of bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, maple syrup, and dry red wine in this drink strikes the ideal balance between sweet and sour. Whiskey fans who are looking to shake things up and experiment with new flavors will find that the New York Sour is the ideal drink for them.


Manhattan

manhattan cocktail

The Manhattan is one of the most classic and beloved whiskey cocktails, known for its smooth and sophisticated taste. The combination of the sweet vermouth and the powerful taste of the bourbon makes for a fantastic drink. With the perfect combination of sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and Angostura bitters, this cocktail is smooth, sophisticated, and sure to please any whiskey connoisseur. Don’t forget a cocktail cherry garnish!


Old Fashioned

old fashioned cocktail with cocktail cherry and orange peel garnish

The Old Fashioned cocktail has a rich, smooth taste that is both sweet and spicy. The bourbon’s powerful flavor is well balanced by the sugar’s sweet taste, resulting in a flavor that is silky smooth and well-rounded. The cocktail gets a fiery bite from the Angostura bitters, and the splash of water serves to neutralize the strength of the alcohol, which makes it simpler to sip and enjoy. It’s not complete without the orange peel garnish! It’s a classic cocktail that’s great for individuals searching for a pleasing sip of alcohol, whether they’re whiskey experts or newcomers.


classic whiskey cocktail on a bar

22 Classic Whiskey Cocktails

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
5 from 3 votes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: classic whiskey cocktails
Servings: 1
Author: Paul Kushner
Discover the best classic whiskey cocktails. Perfect for any occasion. Click to explore now!

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22 Classic Whiskey Cocktails to Try
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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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