20 May 2023

Six classic whisky cocktails you should know how to make

From the ultimate Old Fashioned cocktail to the very best Whiskey Sour, here's how to make the very best classic whisky cocktails

From the ultimate Old Fashioned cocktail to the very best Whiskey Sour, we’re here to help you master the art of making everyone’s favourite classic whisky cocktails.

For the beginners out there, the good news is they’re mostly super-easy to make at home – in fact, only one of these recipes even requires a cocktail shaker. The key to making them taste the best they can is using premium ingredients and following the method precisely. Once you’ve mastered the original recipe, you can start to experiment with different types of whisky and your own signature garnish. So, grab your favourite bottle, make sure the freezer is stocked with ice and read on…

Table of Contents

The Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned cocktail

Ingredients

  • 50ml (2 oz) bourbon
  • 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • A few drops of water
  • Orange

Method

  1. Add all ingredients, except for ice, to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Dry shake for 10 seconds.
  3. Add ice and shake again.
  4. Double strain into a chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with a cocktail cherry or a few drops of bitters.

Top tip

Some prefer using Scotch Whisky in an Old Fashioned cocktail, or American Rye. Orange bitters also works well, as does the sweetness of a maraschino cherry.

The Whisky Sour

Whiskey Sour cocktail served 'Up'.
Whiskey Sour cocktail served 'Up'. Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Ingredients

  • 50ml (2 oz) bourbon
  • 25ml (1 oz) oz lemon juice
  • 12.5ml (.5 oz) simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Cocktail cherry

Method

  1. Add all ingredients, except for ice, to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Dry shake for 10 seconds.
  3. Add ice and shake again.
  4. Double strain into a chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with a cocktail cherry or a few drops of bitters.

Top tip

Whether a Whiskey Sour should be served ‘Up’ ie. in a chilled coupe or ‘On the Rocks’ ie. over ice in an Old Fashioned cocktail glass is purely a matter of personal taste. Simply choose your favourite.

The Sazerac

Sunset Sazerac cocktail, Hawksmoor

Ingredients

  • 40ml (1.5 oz) rye whiskey
  • 10ml (.25 oz) absinthe
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1tsp sugar
  • Splash of water
  • Lemon peel

Method

  1. Rinse a pre-chilled Old Fashioned glass with absinthe, then add crushed ice and set it aside.
  2. Stir bitters, sugar, and water together in a mixing glass.
  3. Add rye whiskey and ice and stir.
  4. Discard the ice and absinthe from the Old Fashioned glass and strain the whiskey into the glass.
  5. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Top tip

Traditionally, lemon peel was twisted above the glass to express the flavoursome oils before the peel was discarded, but many bartenders opt to drop the lemon peel into the glass as a garnish. Some also prefer the same technique with orange peel for a slightly sweeter citrus finish.TOP TIP: Whether a Whiskey Sour should be served ‘Up’ ie. in a chilled coupe or ‘On the Rocks’ ie. over ice in an Old Fashioned cocktail glass is purely a matter of personal taste. Simply choose your favourite.

The Rob Roy

Rob Roy cocktail.
Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Ingredients

  • 50ml (2oz) Scotch whisky
  • 20ml (.75 oz) sweet vermouth
  • 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Cocktail cherry

Method

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

Top tip

Switch the Scotch Whisky in your Rob Roy for Rye Whiskey et voila, you have a Manhattan.

The Whisky Highball

Whisky Highball

Ingredients

  • 50ml (2oz) whisky
  • Premium soda
  • Lemon

Method

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice and let it chill.
  2. Add whisky and stir
  3. Add 3-4 parts soda
  4. Stir
  5. Garnish with a twist of lemon or grapefruit

Top tip

You can use any type of whisky in a Whisky Highball but many modern bartenders argue that Japanese Whisky is the best option – and specifically Suntory Toki.