5 Classic Whiskey Cocktails You Should Know How to Make

Knowing how to make a good whiskey cocktail is the bedrock of being a true gentleman (in addition to being able to change a tire and start a fire). While you might not be able to put “makes the best damn Old Fashioned this side of the Mississippi” on your resume, you can go to bed every night knowing that fact is truer than the detectives on television. In our eyes, knowing how to make whiskey drinks is as essential a life skill as changing a tire, tying a tie, or eating a buffalo wing without getting sauce in your beard.

Below, we’ve collected the classiest of the classic whiskey cocktails with their basic recipes. As you’ll notice, most of these are built from similar ingredients and processes, simply swapping in and out specific types of whisk(e)y. There’s a reason these drinks are classic, after all.

While these are the basic recipes, we encourage you to branch out and experiment with the whiskey style, finish, brand (using Maker’s Mark or Four Roses produce two different tasting Old Fashioneds, for example), or even the types of whisk(e)y used.

If you need ideas for what whiskey to use, check out this list of whiskeys for Old Fashioneds, this list for Whiskey Sours, and the whiskey winners of The Manual Spirit Awards 2018.

The Old Fashioned

how to make an old fashioned cocktail
Dan Baker/The Manual
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 3-4 dashes bitters (Angostura or Orange)
  • 1 sugar cube
  • A few drops water
  • Orange peel

Method: In an Old Fashioned glass, add bitters, sugar cube, and water. Stir. Add bourbon and ice and stir. Express an orange peel over the top and drop in the glass.

Whiskey Sour

Whiskey-Sour-Cocktail-cherry
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • .75 oz simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Cherry for garnish

Method: In a shaker tin, add all ingredients except for ice. Dry shake for 10-15seconds. Add ice and shake again. Double strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Sazerac

sazerac-whiskey-cocktail-lemon
  • 1.5 oz rye whiskey
  • .25 oz absinthe
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1 Sugar cube
  • A few drops water
  • Lemon peel 

Method: Rinse a pre-chilled Old Fashioned glass with absinthe, then add crushed ice and set it aside. Stir bitters, sugar, and water together. Add rye whiskey and ice and stir. Discard the ice and absinthe from Old Fashioned glass and strain the whiskey into the glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.If you love Scotch in particular, check our roundup of essential Scotch cocktails.

Rob Roy

rob roy cocktail cherry garnish
Christian Kargl/Getty Images
  • 2 oz Scotch whisky
  • .75 oz sweet vermouth
  • 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Cherry for garnish

Method: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Manhattan

manhattan cocktail
Dan Baker/The Manual
  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • .5 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Cherry for garnish

Method: Stir liquid ingredients together with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a cherry.

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