Well, for starters, it’s delicious AF. From the classic sweet and spicy to the more precise toffee, caramel, or vanilla flavored, the elixir of the gods will engulf your taste buds as it slips across your tongue with a soul-warming burn following closely behind.
While whiskey is oh-so-fine all on its own, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying it neat or on the rocks. That being said, sometimes an easy-peasy cocktail is the best way to go to smooth out the flavors of a budget bottle... especially if you’re trying to impress guests with your bartending prowess.
But when it comes to the mouth-watering libation, how do you level up your drink game when it’s already pure gold in a glass? We’ll tell you.
Whether you’ve been sippin’ on Mai-Tais and Daiquiris for years or are a whiskey aficionado simply on the hunt for a new cocktail favorite, we’re here to teach you how to make some of the best whiskey drinks on the planet.
From classics like the Manhattan and old-fashioned to timeless recipes like the whiskey sour, you’ll be a professional whiskey mixologist by the end of this post. And, without a doubt, you’ll be the MVP at your next gathering.
Are you ready?
Let’s keep it simple: defined as any booze distilled from some sort of malted grain, whiskey is a drink aged in wood barrels. It must be made without any added flavoring to be considered a real whiskey.
Yup, it’s true — all the flavor must come directly from the wood barrel that the coveted liquid is aged in. The natural compounds of the wood are solely responsible for the distinctive flavor and heavenly aroma of whiskey.
Many countries all around the globe make the popular spirit, but the whiskey the world knows best hails from Scotland, Ireland, and the U.S of YAY.
All whiskeys must be made from malted grains, right? So, to put it simply, scotch is made from malted barley. It has to be aged in oak casks for a minimum of three long years with an ABV of no more than 94.8 percent.
Another key defining characteristic of a true scotch is its origin. If the booze wasn’t made in Scotland, then guess what? It’s not a true scotch, friend.
Considered the pinnacle of whiskey, you can’t jump from never having a sip of whiskey to scotch. You have to work your way up to it. The infamous “drink of men” has a strong bite that can take a newbie some getting used to.
Similar to scotch in that it has to be made with an ABV of less than 94.8 percent and aged for at least three years in wooden casks, Irish whiskey is a bit different because it’s typically made from unmalted barley rather than malted barley.
And opposed to other forms of whiskey, Irish whiskey is distilled three times, making the boozy beverage much smoother than its counterparts. Oh, and of course, to be dubbed a true Irish whiskey, it must come from the land of the leprechauns.
America’s take on whiskey, bourbon is made primarily from corn as opposed to barely.
To be considered bourbon, the drool-worthy concoction must be:
Proud Kentuckians will attest that if the bourbon isn’t made from their home state, then it isn’t true bourbon. While those folks can certainly keep their pride, as long as the booze follows the rules listed above, then it can be made in Colorado, Oregon, or Texas and still be considered a true bourbon.
As for Tennessee Whiskey, this stuff is almost the same as bourbon, but before the whiskey goes into the cask, it’s filtered or steeped in thick maple charcoal, which mellows the whiskey’s character. Due to this, bourbon is typically bolder and has a more robust flavor.
Now that you know the difference between the most common types of whiskey, it’s time to dive into the best whiskey drinks and how to make them.
Sophisticated and classic with a dash of sexy, the Manhattan is an icon in the whiskey world.
To make this iconic cocktail, simply stir two ounces of rye whiskey, one ounce of sweet vermouth, and two dashes of bitters with cracked ice before straining it into a chilled cocktail.
Another classic, the Old Fashioned, is balanced, refined, and timeless.
This fan-favorite is super simple to make: just mix a sugar cube with two dashes of orange bitters and add two ounces of whiskey before pouring over ice. Sip and repeat. Best enjoyed wearing your grandfather’s classic wool cardigan and looking over a misty mountain.
We’re not talking about the kind with that overly sweet sugary sour mix. This here is the real deal — sour, sweet, and undeniably difficult to have just one.
To enjoy this delicious cocktail, all you have to do is shake two ounces of whiskey, two ounces of lemon juice, a dash of sugar, and half of an egg-white with ice. Strain the liquid into a chilled glass and enjoy.
Coffee and booze? Yeah, sign us up.
Perfect for warming the bones on extra chilly nights, Irish coffee is just coffee, Irish whiskey, a sprinkle of brown sugar, and a touch of whipped cream. Decaf is totally acceptable.
Another awesome winter-weather drink, the Hot Toddy, doesn’t just taste great, but it’s also believed to cure the common cold. Whether it actually combats the sniffles or not (who honestly knows) but we’re certainly willing to give it a shot. Also, because cold medicine tastes awful.
To whip up a Hot Toddy, start by squeezing some fresh lemon into your favorite mug. Then, add about one tablespoon of honey, two ounces of whiskey, and top with hot water.
Feelin’ spicy? Feel free to add spices such as ginger, cinnamon, or star anise for an extra layer of flavor.
Are you into mules? No, not the adorable, pint-sized donkey-horse hybrids #SorryNotSorry. What we’re referring to is the super popular cocktail made with spicy ginger beer or ginger ale, citrus juice, and any kind of spirit.
While there are many ways to make mules, if you’re typically a fan of the beverage and have a thing for Irish whiskey, then there’s no doubt that you won’t fall head over heels in love with the Irish Mule.
To make this leprechaun-lovin’ cocktail, simply fill a copper mug with ice. Pour in two ounces of Irish whiskey and the juice from about half a lime. Then, top the drink with ginger beer, and voila — you’ve got yourself an Irish Mule.
Gone are the days of sipping on warm beer that tastes like stale water or boring cocktails that are nothing short of lame. If you’re looking to level up your drinking game or show off your bartending prowess with a handful of undeniably tasty yet unbelievably easy drinks — you need whiskey.
Here at Famous IRL, we’re fans of all-things-booze, but when it comes to our favorite spirit, there’s no denying our unconditional love for whiskey. From bourbon and scotch to Irish whiskey and Tennessee whiskey, call us old-fashioned— but we love ‘em all!
If you’re ready to dip your toes in the whiskey pond, we suggest starting with Tennessee whiskey and working your way up to scotch. Just don’t forget to drink responsibly and always remember, safety first (and whiskey second)!