We Asked Bartenders To Recommend The Best Whiskeys To Drink Outside This Summer

We plan to spend a lot of time outside this summer. Like a lot. It will be socially distanced and often with masks, but damn if we don’t need to get out of doors. Probably way more than any other summer of our collective adulthood thus far.

We’re not coming in at dark, either. That’s when we’ll sit around a campfire pretending that we actually know how to play the guitar (not having an audience during the quarantine makes this easier). And while we strum, we’re going to enjoy the great outdoors with a glass of whiskey in hand. Not just any whiskey. Floral notes and easy sippers. Exciting expressions that don’t conjure any winter vibes.

To pick the right expressions for the season, we asked a handful of our favorite bartenders to tell us the best whiskeys to drink outside this summer.

Ghost Coast Honey Flavored Whiskey

Bill Myers, bartender at Kimpton Brice Hotel in Savannah, Georgia

Ghost Coast honey flavored whiskey is a delicious bourbon blended with honey from the Savannah Bee Company that is perfect to sip by the water this summer. A gold medal winner from the 2018 SIP Awards, this product doesn’t have the artificially sweet taste that some other flavored whiskeys have. It is the perfect daytime sipper this season.

Pinhook Rye Whiskey

Sondre Kasin, principal bartender at Cote in New York City

Pinhook is a fairly new whiskey/bourbon producer that makes really cool products. If I were to sit by the lake or pool and enjoy a whiskey I would definitely go for a lighter and fresher style of whiskey. Pinhook Rye is definitely that! The rye has classic notes as black pepper, vanilla and caramel. However it also has this minty /green herb freshness, which for me is a perfect summer flavor. Also try it in cocktails, it works great in a mint julep.

Skrewball Whiskey

Sammy Norris, bartender at EVO Entertainment in Schertz, Texas

Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey. It is the perfect American infused whiskey. It’s great on the rocks or neat. I am a huge fan of the flavor profile.

Jim Beam Black

Jennifer Jackson-Keating, co-owner of Island Culture Tiki Bar in Pensacola, Florida

Jim Beam Kentucky straight bourbon is a great sipping whiskey for any occasion. The combination of new flavors including Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean, apple, peach and maple make for crowd pleasing options whether you’re drinking it straight or mixing it up. Our faves: Jim Beam Black Extra Aged and the new Jim Beam Peach which is sure to become a southern staple when mixed with iced tea.

Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Eva Al-Gharaballi, bartender for the Datz Restaurant Group in Tampa, Florida

For a sip of something after you take a dip in the pool or a lake this summer I would reach for Maker’s Mark. Maker’s has a very smooth finish that could easily be mixed with peach puree and some iced tea to cool you off after a swim.

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Dean Powers, restaurant and bar manager at Shore Lodge and Whitetail Club in McCall, Idaho

Personally, I like to drink something a little lighter and approachable during the summer months. Since I am a bartender at heart, Jameson is my anytime go to. It’s a little sweeter and goes down without a bite.

Old Hamer Straight Rye

Jacob Cantu, tasting room manager at West Fork Whiskey Co. in Indianapolis, Indiana

Old Hamer Straight Rye is perfect for hot summer days out on the lake. This historic whiskey recently resurrected by West Fork Whiskey Co. showcases a 45% corn, 51% rye, and 1% malted barley mash bill. Crafted in #4 char new American Oak barrels and aged approximately three years, this easy-drinking bourbon features hints of butterscotch with a pleasant finish.

Angels’ Envy Bourbon

Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami

Angel’s Envy has a nice smooth, almost sweet feel thanks to the port cask finish. Pairs well with the crisp air at water’s edge on a warm, summer day.

Writer’s Picks:

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon

Summer evenings are perfect for Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. Once the sun goes down and a sweatshirt gets pulled over your tank top, you’ll be happy to have this warming, uncut, 12-year old slow sipping bourbon.

Ardbeg Wee Beastie

Campfires deserve to be paired with a smoky whisky. There are few better at making peat smoked Scotch whiskies than Ardbeg. One of the Islay distillery’s newest offerings is the sweet and smoky Wee Beastie. It’s matured in ex-bourbon casks and Oloroso sherry butts, it’s full of caramel sweetness, subtly briny salt, and pleasing peat smoke.

This one has the smoke but it’s not so overpowering as to overwhelm the senses.