In Wisconsin, the locally produced Death’s Door White Whisky is a bartenders’ favorite. Star mixologist Jim Meehan, who went to college in Wisconsin, features it in this delicious strawberry cocktail.
Bourbon and rye give a potent kick to this playful cocktail. At Mother of Pearl in New York City, Jane Danger serves the drink in a shark mug garnished with two thin pineapple fronds arranged to look like a fish. "Shark Eye can make you feel that island vibe on any occasion," Danger says. "Manhattan is an island, right."
Mixologist Jacques Bezuindenhout's sour, which references the iconic firearm wielded by Prohibition-era gangsters, gets its zing from spicy fresh ginger and a generous pour of Irish whiskey.
Mixologist Suzanne Bozarth sweetens this winter whiskey sour with cassis to give it a pink blush.
In Cold Blood
Andrew Volk says this is currently the most popular order at Portland Hunt & Alpine Club in Maine. The drink, according to Volk, is "approachable but geeky with the salt"--which he adds to balance the bitterness of the artichoke-flavored aperitif Cynar.
This Manhattan reflects the recipe in America's first cocktail book, 1862's The Bon Vivant's Companion, by Jerry Thomas. It calls for more vermouth than rye—the opposite of the modern Manhattan.
"People are automatically put off by it," says Joseph Schwartz, referring to the raw egg white that gives this drink its frothy consistency. "But apart from adding texture, it can also bring out the subtle flavors in a cocktail."
The ratio of this classic drink is one ounce sweet vermouth to two ounces rye whiskey.
Bar manager Jennifer Zerboni likes to tinker with the classic mint julep during horse-racing season. She used to flavor this julep with a mint granité, but that proved "too sticky and messy." Now she makes the drink with mint simple syrup.
Blood & Sand
This classic cocktail is fruity and only faintly smoky—an approachable drink for people who aren't sure they like Scotch.
For hot punches, young Irish whiskeys work best. Heat intensifies the tannic edge of older whiskeys; young ones stay smooth.
At The Oakroom, where Al Capone regularly played poker in the 1920s, the bartenders use bourbon from Buffalo Trace Distillery in nearby Frankfort, Kentucky.
The Wry Manhattan was created to honor Fritz Maytag, the San Francisco brewer and distiller behind Anchor Steam beer and Old Potrero singlemalt rye whiskey.
Descanso Beach Smash
While vacationing in 2008 with his wife's family on a boat near Catalina Island, California, John Coltharp was dismayed to see that all the beach bars focused on sweet drinks like piña coladas. Back on his father-in-law's boat, he came up with this pleasantly bitter and refreshing concoction — with Aperol from the well-stocked bar.
This creamy, spiced drink honors an Irish Halloween bread called barm brack, which contains currants and raisins. Traditionally, various objects—a coin, a ring, a pea—were baked inside the loaf as a kind of fortune-telling game.
In this pleasantly tart punch, David Wondrich mixes Irish whiskey with gin to mimic the taste of a richer, older style of gin.
Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey is a distinctive small-batch whiskey made in Denver from 100 percent malted barley. The flavor is malty and slightly vanilla-y.
Old Irish Cure
According to the Irish-born Sean Muldoon, Irish people often drink whiskey mixed with ginger, honey and lemon to treat colds. This is a version of that potion. "With a bit of hot water," he says, "it becomes a terrific toddy."
Cork County Bubbles
Mixologist John Coltharp likes making this Champagne cocktail with herbal, woody Jameson 12-year Irish whiskey (made in Ireland's County Cork).