Whiskey Cocktails
January 3, 2012 9:16 PM   Subscribe

Need some good whiskey/bourbon recipes...

I enjoy whiskey on the rocks. What are some nice cocktails I can make that'll be a similar experience. Trying to err on the side of interesting and "sophisticated" (though I kind of don't like the term, I'm not talking about stuff like whiskey sours or anything where soda is a primary ingredient).

Don't know what to say beyond that! Just trying to fish up some interesting new stuff to try. Winter-friendly recipes are good, given the season. But open to hearing any good idea!

Thanks so much!
posted by chasing to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
This recent question got a lot of good answers.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:18 PM on January 3, 2012

I'll add that my preferred drink is bourbon on the rocks, or scotch straight up, and the cocktails I like best are often the simpler ones -- Old Fashioned, Sazerac, or Manhattan. Look for cocktails with bitters, maybe.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:21 PM on January 3, 2012

I am a big fan of bourbon, and while my preference is bourbon on the rocks, I thought I would suggest you check out the cocktail menu from one of my favorite local restaurants...Pican. This might give you some good ideas.
posted by AlliKat75 at 9:26 PM on January 3, 2012

This is the only whiskey cocktail recipe you will need: the Old Fashioned. I vastly prefer the minimalist take to what happened during prohibition. It's a sippin' potion that can warm your guts without blowing you away with sweetness.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 9:27 PM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: Ah, yeah. Just saw that other thread.

Anyway: What about some odder cocktails? Besides the usuals? Any good suggestions?
posted by chasing at 9:46 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Make a Boulevardier. 1.5 parts whiskey or bourbon, 1 part Campari, 1 part sweet vermouth. You can play with the proportions too. Classic and delicious.
posted by bedhead at 9:55 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you are ordering this kind of a cocktail from a creative bartender, the word to use to describe your preferences is "boozy."

Here are two odder examples:

The Vieux Carre: Whiskey, Brandy, Sweet Vermouth, Benedectine, bitters

The Hague: Bourbon, Green Chartruese, dry vermouth
posted by willbaude at 10:33 PM on January 3, 2012

Craig Finn sings "hey whiskey, hey ginger, I come to you with rigid fingers", and though he sings a lot of things that are pretty bad ideas, that is one of his much better ones. It is soda-based, but it's ginger ale, and will be better with better ginger ales or ginger beers.

I'm personally more of a fan of Bailey's coffee than Irish coffee, but if you can really get the proper cream-- not whipped, but floating on top so that you drink the coffee/whiskey through the cream, it's a lovely experience, no matter what booze you're using.
posted by NoraReed at 11:34 PM on January 3, 2012

I'm making this Maker's Mark Bourbon Punch for this weekend's NFL playoff games.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:12 AM on January 4, 2012

I made this for a new years cocktail contest. The theme was construction because the hosts had spent all year remodeling their house:

The Plumbob:

3 parts rye whiskey (High West or Redemption are personal favorites)
1 part sloe gin
1 part umeshu plum wine.
A few shakes of orange bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a glass.
Garnish with an ume that came in your jar of umeshu.
posted by aubilenon at 12:42 AM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like the rye whiskey cocktail The Suburban (with rum and port), or even better the variant Santa's Little Helper.
posted by exogenous at 5:05 AM on January 4, 2012

I'm a Louisvillian (KY), so in addition to the requisite mint juleps, our neighborhood Derby parties always include a huge tub of bourbon slushie. It stays in the freezer and whenever someone wants some, they just grab a glass and scrape out as much as they want. Goes down a little bit too easily ...
posted by jbickers at 5:58 AM on January 4, 2012

Among my favorites (other than a very standard sugar, bitters, bourbon old fashioned), is bourbon, ginger juice (or very strong ginger tea, which is what I usually use), a splash of soda water, and a drop or two of orange bitters. I've heard this basic concoction called a million names, but it's perfect.
posted by General Malaise at 6:24 AM on January 4, 2012

Don't overlook Whiskey Sours as long as you make them from scratch. They are every bit as sophisticated as other cocktails and just as delicious. Plus you can dial in your prefered ratios so that you don't end up with something too cloyingly sweet. I like the following:
* .75 parts fresh lime juice
* .75 parts simple syrup (just equal parts sugar and water)
* 2 parts Bourbon (As of late I've been using Maker's 46)
posted by mmascolino at 6:32 AM on January 4, 2012

I was flipping through my mother's Everyday Food magazine (the latest one with Xmas recipes in it) the other day and was intrigued by this Maple Bourbon Cider cocktail, which definitely sounds winter-friendly.

* 3 oz. bourbon
* 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon maple syrup
* 1/2 cup apple cider
* cayenne pepper (totally optional)
* lemon slices for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup and apple cider. Put the lid on and shake vigorously. Strain into glasses and top each with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Add a lemon slice for garnish.

My husband scoffed, though; he said I should be mixing (Canadian) apple cider and (Canadian) maple syrup with Canadian rye rather than bourbon. I was like oh well, I guess we'll have to try it both ways - here, twist my arm for me. Heh.
posted by flex at 7:29 AM on January 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

lemon, sugar, bourbon and lots of crushed ice in the summer. In the winter or if you have a cold, lemon juice, sugar, boiling water and bourbon. Grapefruit juice and bourbon over ice is unusual, tasty and easy.
posted by theora55 at 7:40 AM on January 4, 2012

Best answer: What you want is a stirred, "spirit-forward" (aka boozy) drink. It sounds like you don't want something "refreshing", and you'd like to avoid long drink or highballs. (There are some boozy drinks that do involve a little bit of citrus, so don't rule it out entirely, though.)

2nd the Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Manhattan, and Vieux Carre.

With the Old Fashioned, it sounds like you don't want to put fruit/soda in yours, so avoid recipes calling for cherries and orange slices and a splash of soda.

How about a Fancy Whiskey cocktail?

A Boulevardier with dry vermouth is known as the Old Pal.

You might also like:
Left Hand
Little Italy
The Conference
The Scofflaw (has a little citrus but is plenty boozy)
Red Hook
The Greenpoint

If you do decide to try a whiskey sour, mmascolino's recipe sounds great and similar to what I use -- a whiskey sour with fresh citrus is a beautiful thing.

If you decide you like Mint Juleps, try also the Whiskey Smash.

A few other notes:

* Use good water for ice. If your local tap water doesn't taste good, use distilled. Water is the secret ingredient to many cocktails. A good chunk of your drink will be water content after stirring/shaking.

* Buy only the small bottles of vermouth (375mL) and store them in the fridge. Use any sort of wine saving device you may have. Throw the vermouth out after a few weeks. It's fortified wine and eventually does go bad. If it isn't something you want to drink alone, open a new bottle.

* Buy proper maraschino cherries from a brand like Luxardo. Nothing neon.

* Practice making twists that really express the oils of the peel onto the surface of your drink. It makes a big difference.

* Experiment with different types of bitters, especially if you get into old fashioneds.

* Avoid sour mix. Fresh juices are the way to go (as fresh as possible -- freshly squeezed citrus juice doesn't last more than one day). Have you ever tasted sour mix? Nasty stuff.

* Consider buying the silicon ice trays that make huge ice cubes. Larger cube = your drink stays cold without as much dilution.

* Also consider storing some glassware in the freezer. Your drink will stay colder, longer.

* Make small drinks (3-4 oz) so they're not warm by the time you get to the bottom of the glass.

TL;DR: make good drinks by using good ingredients: good ice, fresh juice, fresh vermouth. And think about temperature of your drink.
posted by kathryn at 8:33 AM on January 4, 2012 [9 favorites]

Bobby Burns are one of my favorite winter drinks. So's the Fanciuli. Not classy exactly, but Boilermakers hit the spot sometimes.

I don't know if they still have it, but Imbibe Magazine's website used to have a database you could search for stuff like that. KindredCocktails.com, Drinkboy.com, Gary Regan's Ardent Spirits database, that online database of the Savoy Cocktail Book are all good resources for looking by ingredient and not getting frat kegger dreck results.
posted by ifjuly at 11:10 AM on January 4, 2012

Oh, and the Chowhound spirits board has a bunch of whiskey cocktail threads IIRC.
posted by ifjuly at 11:10 AM on January 4, 2012

And I totally agree with kathryn that with whiskey cocktails, being a Type A perfectionist about ratios, the type of ice and how it's melted and to what degree, and using fresh good quality mixing ingredients is key. A half-warm or too watery or made-with-stale-vermouth whiskey cocktail is disgusting, it's not as forgiving as vodka, gin, or rum. But when done right, oh so delicious.
posted by ifjuly at 11:12 AM on January 4, 2012

Response by poster: So! Tried the Boulevardier last night. Nice! Thanks, bedhead!

I'll be hitting up some other suggested recipes, here, as well.

Thanks, everyone. :-)
posted by chasing at 2:51 PM on January 5, 2012

I've been experimenting with some newly acquired Cynar and Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters, and they've yielded some super delicious results that are now instant favorites: the Colonel Carpano (like a more amaro-ed/complex Manhattan, awesome layers of flavors you can just sit and contemplate the whole time you drink it) and the Left Hand Cocktail (scroll down a bit) from the PDT book (also awesome, though much sweeter and very pre-bedtime dessert-y; you don't think the Campari will work but it does). You have to be on board with the amari for these, of course...but if you are, and say, you generally dig Manhattans, then you're on your way. Dreamy stuff. I used Elijah Craig 12 for both drinks.
posted by ifjuly at 5:04 PM on January 12, 2012

one more:
Benton's Old Fashioned from the PDT book, with bacon-washed bourbon, maple syrup, and bitters over a large ice cube garnished with orange twist. Scrumptious. I don't follow their directions for washing bourbon because I don't wash an entire bottle at a time--if like me that's too much, follow Jamie Boudreau's approach to get 1 cup of bacony bourbon in less than an afternoon. Couldn't be easier; the trick is to render the fat under moderate, not high heat so it doesn't burn and you get the most out you can (and sieving finely/thoroughly enough to really get out all the grease!).
posted by ifjuly at 12:54 PM on January 20, 2012

So I just had another one: the Esquire, from the wonderful David Wondrich's Esquire Drinks! It's like a sidecar that's been fixed so it isn't so damn sweet (it is still quite drinkably sweet, in case you're wondering, despite the stiff-looking ratios). And it's as all-purpose in terms of seasons too; it'd work as well in summer or fall as winter. Balanced in every way, as masculine as it is feminine, yadda yadda yadda. Definitely going in the "perennial classic favorite go-tos" for me.
posted by ifjuly at 1:15 PM on January 30, 2012

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