Whisky is often framed as the most sombre of spirits – serious whisky aficionados are not only expected to have a firm grasp of the grain types, distillation and ageing processes involved in its production but are also likely to appreciate the subtle differences between single and blended malts.
Whisky – together with gin, brandy, rum and vodka – is also one of the 5 essential spirits on which some of the best and most enduring cocktails are based. Here are our top 5 classic whisky (or whiskey) cocktails:
Traditional versions of this cocktail use either bourbon or rye ‘whiskey’ – or a combination of both – sweetened with a little sugar syrup and finished with a dash of aromatic bitters, before being served on the rocks in a heavy-bottomed tumbler, garnished with a twist of orange zest. The Old Fashioned is a no-nonsense drink* with origins dating back 200 years – tinker with it at your peril!
A more playful version of its Old Fashioned big brother, the Manhattan – likely named after its city-island of origin in the late 1800s – incorporates a jaunty splash of vermouth with the whisky/whiskey and bitters combo, before being topped with a maraschino cherry and served, for preference, in a coupe glass.
It’s the sweet/sour blend that defines the flavour profile of this classic ‘sour’ cocktail family, which includes the Margarita and the Cosmopolitan. For a Whiskey Sour, shake bourbon with lemon juice, sugar and egg white for a drink with a smooth, silky texture. Top with a float of dry red wine to turn it into a New York (Continental) Sour.
The Mint Julep is very much an American import and feels as if it ought to be sipped on the shady veranda of a porticoed house in New Orleans. Thankfully, it’s just as appealing on a sunny Sunday in Brighton. For authenticity, vigorously shake a large measure of bourbon with sugar syrup, ice and a handful of mint leaves before straining into a highball glass filled with crushed ice and topping with a generous mint sprig.
The ultimate winter warmer. You can make this classic drink to suit your own preferences. Add a shot of whisky to a tumbler, together with a spoonful of honey, a squeeze of lemon and half a cinnamon stick. Pour over hot water and stir well to infuse the flavours. Garnish with a wedge of lemon studded with cloves. Best served in front of a roaring fire with a good book on the side.
*Try Edmunds’ own immaculate Old Fashioned as part of this classic box of cocktails or order your own selection of cocktail gifts for UK delivery from our online shop.