The Basics Drinking Out

11 Whiskey Cocktails to Drink in Bars Now

Image: Tim Williams

Whether you’re celebrating International Whiskey Month or just trying to cope with the state of national politics, there’s never been a better time to drink a whiskey cocktail. And while any bar will pour you something neat or maybe even stir you a self-respecting Old Fashioned, we firmly believe in shaking things up from time to time. And bartenders agree: As sales of bourbon, rye, scotch and more have exploded in the past few years, so has creativity with the dark stuff behind the bar and on menus across the country. From a s’more-inspired drink to a scotch-fortified cream soda, these are the 11 whiskey cocktails to order right now.

Can't make it to any of the bars serving these great whiskey drinks? Try making the Green Tea Highball at home.

  • Winter Is Coming (Eight Row Flint, Houston)

    Carla Gomez

    Hold the door: This Game of Thrones–nodding cocktail by bartender Sean Johnson riffs on two classics: the Suffering Bastard and the Lion's Tail. Served at Eight Row Flint, an upmarket spin on a classic icehouse, the drink tempers the bite of Rittenhouse rye whiskey with allspice dram, orgeat, lime and Angostura bitters and is finished off with sparkling Topo Chico mineral water.

  • Haystack Toddy (The Bennett, New York City)

    Still in the mood for something warm? At Meaghan Dorman’s date-night establishment, sidle up to the gleaming bar and ask for this simple-but-soothing ginger-whispered bourbon Toddy. Layering Elijah Craig small-batch bourbon with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur and a teaspoon of pumpkin butter, Dorman garnishes the mug with a clove-spiked orange twist.

  • Harris Tweed (Easy Tiger, Austin)

    Gabby Phi

    Austin’s beloved beer garden and bake shop, Easy Tiger, is also a serious cocktail destination. For a seasonally appropriate springtime scotch drink, try bartender Craig Collins’ tall, refreshing concoction shaking Dewar’s White Label with lime juice, Angostura bitters and house-made rosemary simple syrup. It’s strained into a highball glass and topped off with ginger beer, making it an instant crowd pleaser.

  • Sir Highspire (Cure, New Orleans)

    Decked in old-timey decor, NOLA’s preeminent craft cocktail darling is an excellent place to sip on something spirit-forward and refined, like barman Matt Lofink’s on-the-rocks Sir Highspire, featuring the barely-aged Highspire whiskey, which, though technically a super young rye, is not legally considered a rye. Aged in wine barrels, the whiskey boasts raisin and dried fruit notes that are accented by dark, chocolatey Tempus Fugit crème de cacao, orange and chocolate bitters, and a barspoon of Luxardo maraschino liqueur. Rounding out that already-complex canvas of flavors is a splash of smoky Laphroaig 10-year-old scotch.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • Araby Bazaar (Empire State South, Atlanta)

    Channeling the Irish heritage of this cocktail’s base spirit, Teeling whiskey, bar manager Kellie Thorn named her creation after a fictional bazaar from a short story in James Joyce’s famed Dubliners from 1914. That Irish whiskey is enlivened with Lustau amontillado sherry, St. George spiced pear liqueur and a house-made kabinett riesling syrup. It’s served up and adorned with an orange peel.

  • Over the Fire (Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., Fort Worth, Texas)

    This homegrown distillery is responsible for spreading the gospel of Texas whiskey around the world. Essentially a s’more in cocktail form, this nostalgic drink sweetens the distillery’s wildly popular blended whiskey with crème de cocoa and rounds it out with Angostura bitters. In true campfire form, the cup is garnished with torched mini marshmallows and graham cracker dust. We can just hear the crackling flames already.

  • Moon’s Age (GreenRiver, Chicago)

    Kailley Lindman

    At the height of Japanese whisky’s popularity, the senior bar team at this Chicago mainstay has collaborated on a complex-flavored, spirit-forward elixir stirring Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony whisky with an assortment of sweet and bitter-ish liqueurs. It’s a masterful balancing act, juxtaposing Wolfberger Amer Fleur de Joie and Suze gentian with slightly more approachable Cocchi Vermouth di Torino and herbaceous Fernet-Branca.

  • Tender Knob (Elixir, San Francisco)

    Bartender and advisory board member H. Joseph Ehrmann offers a classic combination of bourbon, apple and cinnamon in this crisp quaff. Higher-proof Knob Creek bourbon shines through a mix of draft cider, agave nectar, grated cinnamon and muddled apple.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • Canon Cocktail (Canon, Seattle)

    Known as one of the best whiskey bars in the country, Canon is the ideal place to celebrate a month of the dark spirit. As the co-owner and mastermind behind its whiskey collection, Jamie Boudreau is a leading innovator in the category. His bar's namesake cocktail shakes James E. Pepper 1776 rye with Del Professore red vermouth, along with bitter-sweet Ramazzotti Amaro Italian liqueur. A meticulously prepared house-made foam, made with bloomed gelatin, hot water, egg whites, Combier triple sec and lemon juice, is layered atop with a spray of Angostura bitters.

  • Créme Brulée Scotch & Cream Soda (The VNYL, New York City)

    Oleg March

    It's a star-studded boîte that counts Entourage star Adrian Grenier among its owners, but The VNYL has proven its just as serious about cocktails as it is celebrities. On the menu, which also includes three Milk Punch creations, find bartender Gareth Howells' boozy, fruity riff on a cream soda. A base of Ardbeg 10-year-old scotch and Cocchi Americano apéritif is brightened with punches of a house-made hibiscus-white peppercorn syrup, strawberry puree and lemon juice. Shaken with Peychaud’s bitters and an egg white, the cocktail is then sprinkled with demerara sugar, which is set aflame using a culinary torch.

  • Broad Street (Greydon House, Nantucket, Mass.)

    Tim Williams

    Get double the buzz with this Irish Coffee–inspired highball served at Nantucket, Mass.’ Greydon House, the stylish bar-savvy boutique hotel that occupies a building constructed in 1850. Created by renowned barman Jackson Cannon, the cocktail sloshes Knappogue Castle 16-year-old Irish whiskey with Birch Coffee cold-brew, demerara syrup and warming mole bitters. For an elegant finishing touch, it’s topped with a house-made Bénédictine whipped cream (Bénédictine, heavy cream and simple syrup in a whipped cream canister).