21 Perfect Whiskey Cocktails to Make Right Now

The Belmont Cocktail Recipe
Photo: Victor Protasio

The world of whiskey-based cocktails is vast and wonderful. Whether you're interested in a bourbon-based fan favorite like the Paper Plane (or just want to understand the difference between whiskey and bourbon), or prefer to keep things classic with an Old Fashioned, whiskey is one of the most versatile and beloved ingredients on our back bars for a reason. Want to make sure that treasured bottle lasts for as many rounds as possible? We've got you covered on storage tips, as well as where to look for must-have bottles. Read on for 21 of our most-loved whiskey (or whisky) cocktails.

01 of 21

In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood
David Malosh

Andrew Volk says this is a 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.

02 of 21

Gaelic Punch

Gaelic Punch
© Tina Rupp

For hot punches, young Irish whiskeys work best. Heat intensifies the tannic edge of older whiskeys; young ones stay smooth.

03 of 21

Bufala Negra

Bufala Negra
© Wendell T. Webber

At The Oakroom, where Al Capone regularly played poker in the 1920s, the bartenders use bourbon from Buffalo Trace Distillery in nearby Frankfort, Kentucky.

04 of 21

Vanilla Old Fashioned

Vanilla Old-Fashioned, Mas , New York City
© Frances Janisch

Who knew a classic Old Fashioned could taste even better with the addition of vanilla bean? This warming take on the traditional bourbon-based drink is a surefire hit as soon as temperatures drop.

05 of 21

Felicitation Punch

Felicitation Punch

In this pleasantly tart punch, veteran mixologist David Wondrich mixes Irish whisky with gin to mimic the taste of a richer, older style of gin.

06 of 21

Maple Bourbon Smash

Maple-Bourbon Smash
Michael Turek

Grade A maple syrup isn't just for pancakes! We recommend using just half of an ounce for a sweet, soothing sipper.

07 of 21

The Belmont

The Belmont Cocktail Recipe
Victor Protasio

2017 Food & Wine Best New Chef Angie Mar's famed restaurant The Beatrice Inn may (sadly) be no longer, but this herbaceous, citrus-forward whisky cocktail from the drink remains absolutely worth making.

08 of 21

Stiletto

Stiletto
© Tina Rupp

Brandy-soaked cherries and small-batch Knob Creek bourbon distinguish this almond-tinged whiskey sour served in the restaurant and lounge of Le Meridien hotel.

09 of 21

Bottled Manhattan

Bottled Manhattan
Greg DuPree

Pre-mixing batches of this rye-forward Manhattan from Existing Conditions in Greenwich Village and chilling them beforehand prevents dilution before pouring the cocktail, resulting in a perfect drink every time.

10 of 21

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 is well-balanced and refreshing.

11 of 21

Old-Fashioned

old fashioned
Lucas Allen

According to veteran mixologist David Wondrich, the old-fashioned is a direct descendant of the earliest known "true" cocktail, which in 1806 consisted of "a little water, a little sugar, a lot of liquor and a couple splashes of bitters."

12 of 21

Blackberry-Mint Julep

201206-xl-blackberry-mint-julep
PEDEN + MUNK

Adding blackberries to a mint julep adds fruity flavor to the classic warm-weather cocktail.

13 of 21

Matcha Highball

Matcha Highball
Lucas Allen

A trip to Japan inspired Denver bartender Jason Patz to combine matcha with Japanese whisky.

14 of 21

Irish Buck

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.

15 of 21

Manhattan

Manhattan Drink
Blaine Moats

According to popular legend, this cocktail was created at the Manhattan Club in 1874, at a party given by Winston Churchill's American mother to celebrate Samuel J. Tilden's election as governor of New York.

16 of 21

Whiskey Chai

Whiskey Chai
Fredrika Stjärne

This boozy, fragrant nightcap shines when you use high-quality cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

17 of 21

Paper Plane

Paper Plane
Guillermo Riveros / Food Styling by Oset Babür-Winter

The Paper Plane has just enough sweetness to counteract its bitter and sour notes, and its signature orange hue comes from Aperol.

18 of 21

Eggnog

glasses of homemade eggnog
Photo by Adam Friedlander / Food Styling by Pearl Jones

This holiday favorite gets an extra-festive kick thanks to bourbon, brandy, and dark rum. Don't forget to grate a generous amount of nutmeg on top!

19 of 21

Bourbon Tea Julep

Bourbon Tea Julep
Kelly Marshall

Tannins from black tea add a beautiful hint of bitterness to Alexander Smalls' 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.

20 of 21

Northern Standard

Northern Standard Cocktail Recipe
Carey Jones

This drink is even better than a Manhattan, thanks to three different bitter elements. Created by mixologist James Ives, the Northern Standard is a full-flavored cocktail that uses Knob Creek rye aged in charred barrels to balance out the richness of Carpano. It's equally strong as it is smooth.

21 of 21

New York Sour

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

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. Be sure to pour the wine slowly over the back of the spoon to create the perfect float. If you're feeling adventurous, add an egg white to the shaker for a thicker viscosity.

Updated by
Megan Soll
Megan Soll

Megan Soll is a senior commerce editor for Food & Wine. She joined Dotdash Meredith in 2015 and has over 10 years of experience writing and editing food, entertainment, and lifestyle content. Her work can be found on Food & Wine, Shape, Travel + Leisure, The Hollywood Reporter, and Racked NY.

Expertise: food, drinks, cooking, entertaining, kitchen products.

Experience: Megan has been a senior commerce editor for Food & Wine since February 2022. Previously, Megan worked across several Dotdash Meredith brands editing content for People, Real Simple, Travel + Leisure, Southern Living, Food & Wine, and more. She has worked at Dotdash Meredith for over 6 years.

Starting with a role as digital intern at Travel + Leisure, Megan was immediately immersed in all aspects of the digital landscape, from coding in HTML to social media and (of course) writing. She reported and wrote for Racked NY about fitness and fashion, for The Hollywood Reporter on red carpet premieres, and for Travel + Leisure on long roundups and city guides. After taking a course on front-end web development she became a freelance producer for Food & Wine, building articles, galleries, and photo assets for the website.

After a year in an editing and writing role at Shape, Megan returned to Food & Wine for a staff role and became an associate editor in 2018 primarily focused on commerce content. She wrote, edited, and updated hundreds of articles and galleries including product roundups and gift guides, all optimized for SEO and affiliate revenue. She was promoted to ecommerce editor at F&W in the fall of 2020, ecommerce editor across several Meredith brands in the summer of 2021, and has been senior commerce editor for F&W since January 2022.

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