The Three Best Whisky Cocktails of All Time
This list is a little dishonest. For starters the greatest whisky drink is a nip of whisky. Served neat in a glass designed for the purpose – something with a tulip bowl to funnel the vapours to your nose if you are so inclined (though there is nothing wrong with a tumbler or indeed a shot glass). You should also really be sitting next to a fire, preferably somewhere near a window through which you can watch snow fall without the threat of having to venture anywhere. But there isn’t much point giving instruction on how to pour 30ml of spirit into a glass, other than to perhaps think about pouring 60ml so you don’t have to reach for the bottle so often.
But if we want to look at the whisky drinks worth mixing there are a few contenders for greatest whisky cocktail of all time.
I’d include the Old Fashioned but to be honest we championed that drink for 2017 drink of the year: in a Gin Old Fashioned. I argued that gin has more nuance than any other spirit and befitted that style of mixing more than any other. And as it’s on public record I can’t very well sit here and claim the same for whisky. But I’ll go so far as to say, it’s certainly not a bad drink, the Whisky Old Fashioned, I just more often than not would opt for a double whisky. Hold the sugar, hold the bitters and hold the ice. But that’s just me. It’s your life, drink what you want.
Without further ado, here are three of our all-time favourites:
The Whisky Sour:
Whether you prefer your whisky with or without an e, most can agree that there is something very satisfying about a well-made Whisky Sour. Like all sours, it is simply a double serve of your chosen spirit (why not try our new Six Malt New Make), spiked with lemon, balanced with sugar, buoyed with egg white and shaken as hard as your little arms will allow. Modern fancy bartenders will attest to dry shaking (shaking without ice, that is) before adding the ice and shaking. The purpose of which is to emulsify the egg, whip it up good and proper, before beginning the process of dilution. Some will even extol the virtues of the reverse dry shake – the idea of shaking first with ice and secondly without, those advocates claim the ice will bash the air out of the foam, and they may well be right. But whatever your method, the idea is to give the drink a good going over. Strain out this fluffy cloud of goodness, on ice or not. Garnish with something fun and frivolous. Classically it’s a wedge of lemon and/or a cherry (please no bleached “cocktail” cherries, they’re the work of Satan). I love a little flamed orange twist atop my sour. The oils do great things to the whisky, and mask that whiff of egginess one can sometimes encounter in a sour.
- 60ml whisk(e)y
- 20ml lemon
- 10ml sugar syrup
- 15ml egg white (about half an egg’s worth)
Shake like billy-o, serve up or on the rocks. Garnish as you like.
Whisky. Vermouth. Bitters. What a combo. This is one hell of an elegant beast. The perfect after dinner drink. There is nowt so luxurious as a fine Manhattan after a big dinner. And because it comes from New York it’s not out of place regardless of whether dinner consisted of a steak, a pizza or a hot dog.
To make a Manhattan start with a decent whiskey. There are no hard and fast rules. Go with your palate. Personally, I like a rye Manhattan, which is drier than bourbon, but I can also be swayed into Scotch, in which case I’m enjoying a Rob Roy. Next, select a vermouth. There is an argument for three kinds of Manhattan, sweet, dry or perfect. Sweet means opting for sweet vermouth, dry, yes, you’ve guessed it, means dry vermouth and perfect is a combination of the two. The correct answer is sweet. The ratio is yours to fine-tune. You want something along the lines of 2:1 whiskey to vermouth. So around 40ml whiskey to 20ml vermouth will do you no harm. If you like the whisky to stand out in your drink, consider 45ml:15ml or even 50ml:10ml. Then a good whack of Angostura bitters. (There’s nothing wrong with experimentation here, too; for a fun change try orange bitters, or walnut, or chocolate. Bitters maketh the Manhattan. Be bold.)
Stir these drinks with cold ice and a cool temperament. You’re evoking the cocktail gods here, calling upon our whisky ancestors. Creating something divine. The cocktail will take on the character you channel, so imbue the glass with elegance as you stir, give it love. You want to create something viscous, something heavy and thick with character. Strain into a chilled coupette or cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry or a lemon twist, depending on your mood. Drink before the spell is broken. There are so many variations on the Manhattan I couldn’t list them all. But you should certainly encounter the following before your last orders are called: Rob Roy, Bobby Burns, Red Hook, Greenpoint, Remember the Maine and a Brooklyn.
- 45ml rye whiskey
- 15ml sweet vermouth (different vermouths will do different things, play around)
- 2 dashes of bitters.
Stir well. Serve up. Garnish with a cherry or lemon twist.
“Boulevardier” is an excellent French word. It means someone who frequents the boulevards of Paris. And that is something we can all aspire to. A person about town, who enjoys the city and its magnificent streets. The namesake cocktail is a drink befitting such a stylish wag. In short this drink is for you and me.
Essentially it’s a rye or bourbon (or Six Malt New Make) Negroni (the ratio is slightly different: 40:20:20, heavier on the whisky than the Negroni is on the gin). It does wonderful things to the mind when mixed correctly. I like to think of it as an after-dinner Negroni. I personally love the spice that rye gives the drink. And next year, when we finally release our Rye Malt Whisky this will be the first drink I make. I’m calling it early. Next year, 2019, the drink of the year will be the Rye Malt Boulevardier. Ask for it in a decent bar near you, or come down to Rosebery and have one with us.
- 40 ml Rye Malt Whisky
- 20ml Campari
- 20ml Sweet vermouth
Stir well, serve up or on the rocks, garnish with an orange twist.