11 Whiskey Cocktail Recipes Every Home Bartender Should Know

old fashioned cocktail
Photo: Lucas Allen

It's perfectly fine to enjoy your whiskey neat or on the rocks, but a whiskey cocktail (or "whisky" depending on where you are in the world) is a particular delight. A classic Manhattan, Old-Fashioned, Whiskey Sour, Mint Julep, or Rob Roy certainly celebrates the best of whiskey's many pleasures, but even whiskey lovers can find something new in creative whiskey cocktail recipes like the Scotch-based Paris Between the Wars, a rye-spiked Northern Standard, or a the warm Irish whiskey-kissed Gaelic Punch. Whether you're sticking with a standard or sipping something unexpected, you'll find the best whiskey cocktail recipes for your tastes right here.

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New York Sour

New York Sour
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

With the perfect balance of fruity red wine and smoky-sweet bourbon, the New York Sour cocktail is a classic for a reason. Shaking the cocktail with large ice cubes will chill the cocktail without diluting it, and those large cubes look great in a rocks glass, too.

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old fashioned cocktail
Lucas Allen

According to cocktail historian David Wondrich, the old-fashioned is a direct descendant of the earliest known cocktail, which in 1806 consisted of "a little water, a little sugar, a lot of liquor and a couple splashes of bitters." Purists may scoff at the inclusion of a muddled cherry, but if it brings you pleasure, don't hold back.

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Paris Between the Wars

Paris Between the Wars Cocktail
Photo by Victor Protasio / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

With rich smokiness from the blended Scotch, rounded bitterness from Campari, and a tart bite from fresh lemon juice, this cocktail from New Orleans hospitality legends Ti and Lally Brennan is well-balanced and extra-refreshing thanks to a splash of sparkling wine.

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Gaelic Punch

Gaelic Punch
© Tina Rupp

Punch prophet David Wondrich notes that for hot drinks, young Irish whiskeys work best. Heat intensifies the tannic edge of older whiskey; young ones stay smooth. Nutmeg, cloves, and citrus peels round out the cozy comfort.

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Bourbon-Tea Julep

Bourbon Tea Julep
Kelly Marshall

Tannins from black tea add a beautiful hint of bitterness to author and bon vivant Alexander Small's twist on a classic mint julep. Oleo saccharum, also known as citrus oil, is made here by steeping lemon peels in sugar; its bright flavor is the perfect lift to finish each sip.

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Northern Standard

Northern Standard Cocktail Recipe
Carey Jones

This drink is a shade more complex than a Manhattan, thanks to three different bitter elements. Created by mixologist James Ives, this full-flavored cocktail uses rye aged in charred barrels to balance out the richness of Carpano vermouth for a sip that's equally strong and smooth.

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Bottled Manhattan

Bottled Manhattan
Greg DuPree

Pre-mixing batches of Dave Arnold and Don Lee's rye-forward Manhattan in bottles and stashing them in a cooler allows you to separate chilling from dilution, resulting in a perfect drink every time. Lee notes, "Making a bottled cocktail is great for dinner party planning, too, because it lets you do the work ahead of time."

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Classic Manhattan

© Wendell T. Webber

Rye whiskey, vermouth, and Angostura bitters are all it takes to craft this iconic cocktail. A cherry is the standard garnish, but if a lemon twist fits your mood, follow that bliss.

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Chocolate & Whiskey Liqueur

Chocolate & Whiskey Liqueur
© Hans Gissinger

For chocolatier Christopher Elbow's first annual employee Christmas party, he mixed up a chocolate-and-whiskey liqueur that's creamy, boozy and delicious, straight up, over ice or even over ice cream. Elbow says, "The consensus at the Christmas party was that if we could get a liquor license, we should sell this at our shop!"

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Irish Buck Cocktail

Irish Buck Cocktail
Eva Kolenko

Light yet oaky, Irish whiskey joins tart lemon juice, honey, and spicy ginger beer in this refreshing, fizzy, basil-scented Irish Buck cocktail.

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Classic Mint Julep

Mint Julep
© Wendell T. Webber

When New Orleans bartender Chris McMillian mixes mint juleps at Bar UnCommon, he recites an ode, written in the 1890s by a Kentucky newspaperman, that calls the cocktail "the zenith of man's pleasure…the very dream of drinks."

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