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Whiskey Cocktails To Try Making Yourself This Summer

Summer 2020 is slow. That doesn’t mean boring, by any means, but it’s definitely not the wild string of party nights that we might be used to. Instead, it’s the summer of “skilling up” — the perfect time to order some bottles of booze, build a home bar, and really dial in your cocktail game.

You don’t need a fancy bar kit to make cocktails, of course. Use old jars, the glasses you already have, and a chopstick if you don’t have a bar spoon for mixing. Our advice would be to know the volume of your glasses so you know which to use with which cocktail. Lastly, make sure your ice is deeply frozen. Make ice, bag it, and turn your freezer down as far as it goes (or store the ice in a deep-freeze chest freezer, if you have one). Deeply frozen ice is what will truly up your cocktail game.

To help motivate you, we’ve got some delicious (and fairly easy to execute) whiskey cocktails for you to try. These fun, summery, and easy-to-make drinks will touch off any summer event you’re planning. Even if it’s just a socially distanced party for one.

Whiskey Sour

Bottle To Use: Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Bourbon

This recipe is pulled from our post about Whiskey Sours, from last year. There are few cocktails that scream “summer” more than a great whiskey sour with an egg white (always use an egg white). This is a refresher that leans into bright lemon citrus with a hint of sweetness and a nice bourbon underbelly.

Recipe:

  • 1.5 oz. Wild Turkey
  • 0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 0.75 oz. Simple Syrup
  • One Egg White
  • Amarena Cherry
  • Ice

Method:

  • Build your cocktail in the shaker. Don’t add the ice.
  • Lock the lid on the shaker and shake vigorously for 30 solid seconds. Pop the lid off and add a handful of ice. Lock that lid back in and shake again for about 15 seconds, or until the shaker is ice-cold to touch.
  • Pop the lid off and let the excess drip back into the shaker from the lid. Fish a five-ounce rocks glass from the freezer. Grab a cocktail strainer and strain the whiskey sour into the glass. It should fill right to the top.
  • Garnish with the Amarena cherry. Serve.

Highball

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Bottle To Use: Talisker 10

The Scotch Highball is a classic for a reason. It’s amazingly simple to make, amazingly refreshing to drink, and amazingly versatile. I like mine with Talisker (because I love Talisker with all my heart). But, you can really make this with any whiskey. Just remember, the better the whiskey, the tastier the highball.

Recipe:

  • 2 oz. Talisker 10
  • 4 oz. High-quality fizzy Mineral Water
  • Ice

Method:

  • Fill an eight-ounce highball glass (or Collins glass) with ice.
  • Add Talisker.
  • Top up with water.
  • Stir once. Serve.

Smoky Cokey

Bottle To Use: Lagavulin 16

This is a real insider drink. Yes, it’s Lagavulin 16 mixed with Coca-Cola. And yes, it’s goddamn delicious, especially as a summer sipper. I was introduced to this drink by its inventor and champion, Ervin Trykowski in Scotland last year. He’s the “Global New Age Scotch Whisky Ambassador” with Diageo Single Malts.

This is more like a high-end bartender’s secret drink for real bartenders in the know. But once you have it, you’ll never go back drinking Lagavulin 16 on its own. I kid, I kid. Of course you will.

Recipe:

  • 2 oz. Lagavulin 16
  • 4 oz. Coca-Cola
  • Ice

Method:

  • Fill an eight-ounce highball glass (or Collins glass) with ice.
  • Add Lagavulin.
  • Top up with Coca-Cola.
  • Stir once. Serve.

Black Manhattan

Bottle To Use: Legent Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Legent is quickly becoming my favorite “all-rounder” bottle of bourbon in 2020. The marrying of Kentucky distilling and Japanese blending has created one of the easiest sipping whiskeys of the year. That also makes it a great cocktail base. And while the Manhattan isn’t exactly a summery drink, this version has a lightness to it that makes it a wonderful addition to the summer rotation.

Recipe:

  • 2 oz. Legent
  • 1 oz. Averna Amaro
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • 1 dash Orange Bitters
  • Maraschino Cherry
  • Ice

Method:

  • Add one dash each Angostura and Orange Bitters to a mixing jar.
  • Add Legent and Averna.
  • Add enough ice to fill half of the jar.
  • Stir until the jar is ice-cold to touch.
  • Strain into a chilled coupe or Nick and Nora glass.
  • Garnish with a cherry. Serve.

Vieux Carre

Bottle To Use: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon

The Vieux Carre — literally “French Quarter” — is a classic NOLA cocktail. And one thing we know about the cocktail culture of New Orleans is that these drinks were devised to fight the heat. It’s generally made with rye whiskey, but Balcones Pot Still Bourbon adds a certain southern food culture touch with candied pecan nature that works wonders with a nutty Cognac.

Recipe:

  • 1 oz. Balcones Bourbon
  • 1 oz. Cognac
  • 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • Two bar spoons Benedictine Liqueur
  • One dash Peychaud’s Bitters
  • One dash Angostura Bitters
  • Maraschino Cherry
  • Lemon Rind
  • Ice

Method:

  • Add ingredients into a mixing jar.
  • Add ice. Stir until the jar is ice cold to touch.
  • Strain into a rocks (or old fashioned) glass filled with fresh ice.
  • Spritz with lemon oils from the rind, rub the rind around the glass, and drop it in the cocktail.
  • Garnish with a cherry. Serve.

Sazerac

Bottle To Use: Old Overholt Rye

Sticking with the Big Easy, a Sazerac is another summer sipper that’ll get you through until the first snow of winter. This is a classic cocktail with a punch. The very subtle addition of absinthe — as a rinse for the glass — adds a new dimension to cocktails that’ll have you mixing this by the batch.

Recipe:

  • Absinthe
  • 1.5 oz. Old Overholt Rye
  • 1.5 oz. Cognac
  • 4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • 1 bar spoon Water
  • Lemon Rind

Method:

  • Add a small splash of absinthe to a pre-chilled rocks (or old fashioned) glass. Coat the inside of the glass and discard the excess.
  • Add the bitters, sugar cube, and water to a cocktail jar.
  • Muddle until the sugar cube is completely broken down.
  • Add the rye and cognac and stir until the sugar is absorbed.
  • Add in the ice and stir until the jar is ice-cold to touch.
  • Strain the cocktail into the prepared glass.
  • Spritz the cocktail with the lemon oils from the rind and rub it around the glass. Discard the rind.
  • Serve.

Lynchburg Lemonade

Bottle To Use: Uncle Nearest 1856 Tennessee Whiskey

There are few whiskey drinks more summery than a Lynchburg Lemonade. A great way to change this recipe up while still celebrating the beauty of a great Tennesee whiskey is to use Uncle Nearest in place of the Jack. “Uncle” Nearest Green taught a young Jack Daniel’s everything he knew about distilling and aging, making this the perfect replacement for this summer refresher.

Recipe:

  • 2 oz. Uncle Nearest
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 4 oz. Lemon Soda
  • Lemon Wheel
  • Ice

Method:

  • Fill a ten-ounce highball glass (or Collins glass) with ice.
  • Add the Uncle Nearest, Cointreau, and lemon juice and stir until well-blended (10 seconds).
  • Top with Lemon Soda (or Sprite).
  • Garnish with the lemon wheel. Serve.

Boulevardier

Bottle To Use: Four Roses Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Do you dig Negronis? Then you’re going to love this whiskey-based version of the iconic Italian cocktail. The usual gin is swapped out for bourbon and a whole new dimension to the drink opens up.

Recipe:

  • 1 oz. Four Roses Small Batch
  • 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • Orange Rind
  • Ice

Method:

  • Add bourbon, vermouth, Campari, and ice into a cocktail jar.
  • Stir until ice-cold to touch.
  • Strain the cocktail into an ice-filled rocks (or old fashioned) glass.
  • Spritz the orange oils over the cocktail and rub the rind around the glass. Drop the rind in the cocktail. Serve.

Black Barrel Old Fashioned

Bottle To Use: Jameson Black Barrel

I learned how to make this the last time I was at Bow Street in Dublin. I then drank a fair few at the bar in the lobby of Jameson’s flagship location in the Irish capital. This Irish version of an old fashioned adds a little something to the classic drink while still feeling very familiar and welcoming. Plus, the lightness of the Irish tipple helps this one feel more summery.

Recipe:

  • 2.5 oz. Jameson Black Barrel
  • 0.5 oz. Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • Orange Rind
  • Ice

Method:

  • Add bitters, Benedictine, and Jameson to a cocktail jar.
  • Add ice and stir until ice-cold to touch.
  • Strain the cocktail into an old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.
  • Spritz the cocktail with the oils from the orange rind and rub the rind around the glass. Drop the rind into the cocktail.
  • Serve.

Horse’s Neck

Bottle To Use: Michter’s US*1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

If I’m not drinking a Beer Spritz this summer, I’ll be drinking a Horse’s Neck. While this is often served with a lemon rind and oils, I prefer it with orange. It adds a bit more depth and is a better counterpoint to the ginger ale while supporting the bitters, in my opinion. But hey, if you dig it with lemon, by all means, go that route.

In the end, this is a great summer drink that goes down almost too easily. Plus, it’s a cinch to make.

Recipe:

  • 2 oz. Michter’s Bourbon
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 4 oz. Ginger Ale
  • Orange Rind
  • Ice

Method:

  • Fill an eight-ounce highball glass (or Collins glass) with ice.
  • Add Michter’s Bourbon and bitters.
  • Top up with ginger ale.
  • Stir once.
  • Spritz the drink with oils from the orange rind and rub the rind around the glass. Drop the rind into the glass.
  • Serve.
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