The 23 finest Whiskey Cocktails

By Sina Torner / Last updated on November 20, 2023

From Whiskey Sour to the Paper Plane, here's an overview of the best recipes for Whiskey Cocktail classic and modern creations to make at home.
Best Whiskey Cocktails

Whiskey has a long tradition and goes back to Scotland in the late 1400s. During the last 500 years, the spirit evolved into one of the most popular spirits worldwide, alongside Vodka and Rum. 

Especially premium Whiskeys, aged for decades in wooden barrels, are usually drunk neat because a dram can easily be worth more than $20 and up. -Honestly, the sky is the limit here.

But apart from those ultimate luxury bottles, a good Whiskey base also makes some incredibly delicious mixed drinks.

So, here's the list of the best Whiskey Cocktails to make at home.

Also, if you want to get an overview of all our recipes for cocktails made with different types of Whiskey, continue here:

-> View all Whiskey Cocktails on Cocktail Society

All-time Whiskey cocktail classics

These drinks are some of the oldest Whiskey Cocktails that will never get out of fashion. - No pun intended.

Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail

1. Old Fashioned

You probably won't find a more classic and elegant cocktail than the Old Fashioned. It is one of the most influential Whiskey cocktails and usually made with sugar cubes, a splash of water, bitters, and Bourbon or Rye.

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Old Fashioned Riffs & Twists

Whiskey Sour

2. Whiskey Sour

The Whiskey Sour Cocktail is right on par with the Old Fashioned. It doesn't highlight the spirit as much but balances it perfectly with lemon juice and a bit of sugar syrup. The frothy egg white foam is optional but provides the perfect texture.

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Manhattan Whiskey Cocktail

3. Manhattan

The Manhattan is another indispensable drink on bar menus across the globe. It's a classic combination of Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, bitters, and the obligatory Maraschino cherry for garnish.

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Manhattan cocktail inspiration

Sazerac Cocktail

4. Sazerac

The Sazerac is one of many legendary cocktails invented in New Orleans. It also asks for a very particular preparation method - an Absinthe rinse. Other ingredients are Cognac, two types of Whiskey, syrup, and Peychaud's bitters.

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Boulevardier Cocktail

5. Boulevardier Whiskey Cocktail

The Boulevardier was invented by bar icon Harry MacElhone while working in Paris. The formula, including Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and an orange peel, is similar to a Negroni but replaces Gin with Bourbon. 

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Boulevardier twists & riffs

Vieux Carre Whiskey Cocktail

6. Vieux Carre

Like most Whiskey cocktail classics, the Vieux Carre is quite a boozy concoction. This recipe, too, calls for alcoholic ingredients only: Whiskey, Cognac, bitters, D.O.M. Bénédictine, and Sweet Vermouth.

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Rusty Nail Whisky Cocktail

7. Rusty Nail

The Rusty Nail is one of the few Whiskey Classics made with Scotch. The peaty Whisky is not for everyone, but if you like the smoky flavor, this drink is a brilliant choice. The only other ingredient is Drambuie liqueur - a liqueur based on Scotch.

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Contemporary Whiskey classics

These Whiskey drinks also have a long and successful history but are not quite as fundamental and influential. Yet, each of them is a delight.

Paper Plane Cocktail

8. Paper Plane

The Paper Plane is a bittersweet mix of Bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonnino Quintessentia, and lemon juice. You can spot the drink from a distance because it usually is served with a small paper plane on the side.

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Mint Julep

9. Mint Julep

The Mint Julep goes back to the 1800s but became the signature cocktail of the Kentucky Derby in the late 1930s. The Whiskey cocktail made with Bourbon, mint, and sugar is traditionally served in a metal vessel, the so-called Julep cup.

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Mint Julep inspiration & twists

Penicillin Whisky Cocktail

10. Penicillin

The Penicillin Cocktail is the second classic on our list made with Scotch. The balanced mix of two types of Whisky, honey-ginger syrup and fresh lemon juice is nicely balanced and perfectly suited for Scotch beginners.

Want to know why Whisky is without an e in this case? Read why in the post Whiskey vs. Whisky.

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Irish Coffee

11. Irish Coffee

Technically, Irish Coffee is not really a cocktail. Instead - the clue is in the title - it is a coffee spiked with Irish Whiskey, a splash of syrup, and an ounce of cream. Still, the IBA officially lists it as a cocktail, and so do we. - And besides, it is delicious!

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More Irish coffee inspiration

Whiskey Sour variations

With the Whiskey Sour being one of the most ordered Whiskey Cocktails, it's no wonder that, over time, various riffs came up. Here are three of our favorites.

New York Sour

12. New York Sour

The New York Sour is a creation of the 1880s and, therefore, itself actually a classic Whiskey cocktail. It enhances the base recipe of the Whiskey Sour with a beautiful float of dry red wine.

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NY Sour inspiration

Continental Sour Cocktail

13. Continental Sour

The Continental Sour is one of my favorite cocktails, if not my overall favorite. It upgrades the New York Sour by replacing the dry red wine float with a sweeter, boozier tawny port wine float. A true delight!

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Stone sour cocktail

14. Stone Sour

The Stone Sour is slightly further from the standard Sour template than the two other riffs. The recipe calls for additional Apricot Brandy and freshly squeezed orange juice. 

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Popular twists on the Manhattan

The Manhattan also inspired many tweaks and twists. Three of these also made with Whiskey are here:

Black Manhattan

15. Black Manhattan

As the name suggests, the Black Manhattan is darker in color than the original. This characteristic is owed to substituting the Sweet Vermouth with Amaro Averna, a dark-colored herbal liqueur from Sicily. 

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Rob Roy Whisky Cocktail

16. Rob Roy Whisky Cocktail

The Rob Roy is a peaty twist on the classic. All you have to do is replace Rye Whiskey with your favorite Scotch. That's it. If you're new to Scotch and unsure about the level of smokiness, read our guide to the different types of Scotch.

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Brooklyn Whiskey Cocktail

17. Brooklyn Cocktail

The Brooklyn Cocktail is a creative twist on the Manhattan and calls for an ingredient that's a little more difficult to get: Amer Picon, a bittersweet liqueur from Belgium. The other ingredients are Rye, Dry Vermouth, and Maraschino liqueur.

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Other Whiskey Cocktail favorites

And here are some more fantastic Whiskey Cocktails for you to try that you can easily make at home.

The Godfather cocktail

18. Godfather Whisky Cocktail

The Godfather Cocktail is named after the famous movie with Al Pacino and Marlon Brando. It's a straightforward blend of peaty Scotch Whisky and sweet and slightly fruity Amaretto. The simple combination works sensationally.

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Christmas Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail

19. Christmas Old Fashioned

Here's a festive twist on the classic Old Fashioned. The recipe calls for Rye, cranberry syrup, and a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters. The syrup adds a beautiful fruity sweetness, and sugared cranberries make for a fantastic garnish.

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Japanese Highball

20. Japanese Highball

The Japanese Highball has perfected the art of mixing Whiskey and Soda. The tradition requires you to follow very specific procedures to get this drink right.

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Blood and Sand Whiskey Cocktail

21. Blood & Sand

One last beautiful Scotch Cocktail on our list - the Blood and Sand made with Speyside single malt, Sweet Vermouth, freshly squeezed orange juice, and the exquisite Heering Cherry liqueur.

For more drinks with the smoky spirit, check out our list of the best Scotch cocktails.

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Montreal cocktail

22. Montreal Cocktail

The Montreal Cocktail is an exception on this list as it features a split base of Canadian Rye and London Dry Gin. It's the official drink of the city of Montreal and also calls for Aperol and Suze.

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Maple Old Fashioned

23. Maple Old Fashioned

Another seasonal twist on the Old Fashioned is this Maple flavored version. It's made with maple syrup instead of the traditional sugar cube, which adds a lovely autumnal flavor to the drink.

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