The 5 Most Iconic Whiskey Recipes You Can Make at Home

bartender garnishing drinks and whiskey cocktails

Making whiskey cocktails isn’t about covering the alcohol, it’s about adding a few complementary flavors to enhance the whiskey. A recipe will sometimes depend on the type of whiskey you use or be recommended only for certain types. For example, some recipes pair well with rye whiskey, others are especially for Irish whiskey, and so on.

Check out some of the most iconic whiskey cocktail recipes below:


We’ll start with perhaps the most iconic whiskey cocktail: The Old-Fashioned. Typically made with a bitters-soaked sugar cube, an orange peel, and a shot of whiskey, this drink has been popular for over 200 years. The classic recipe includes:

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2-3 dashes of bitters
  • 2 ounces of bourbon

Some mixologists prefer to add a splash of club soda–a relatively modern take on the drink. Others might garnish with a cherry or use an orange or lemon peel or choose to muddle the fruit in the drink. These variations are a matter of personal choice. 


One of the most famous and classic whiskey cocktails is the Manhattan. Like many whiskey concoctions, this recipe uses just a few ingredients to enhance the natural flavors of the whiskey. There are also many variations based on the drinker’s preferences. The classic ingredients include:

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey, bourbon, or Canadian whiskey
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • A few dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Garnish with a cherry or orange peel

Whiskey Sour

A drink that’s again made with just a few complementary ingredients, a whiskey sour is traditionally made with bourbon or rye whiskey. The traditional recipe is:

  • 1 ½ ounces whiskey
  • 1 ½ ounces fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • Garnish with a cherry or lemon peel

There are many variations to this recipe using different amounts or ingredients to alter the sweetness or bitterness of the drink. It’s best to try it using the suggested recipe, give it a taste, then adjust your next drink.


This balanced drink originates in New Orleans. It’s well known as a well-balanced drink because of the equal use of bitter, sweet, and an accenting rye whiskey. The ingredients include:

  • 1 cube sugar
  • Bitters to taste
  • 3 ounces rye whiskey
  • 3 drops absinthe
  • Garnish with a lemon twist

There are a ton of variants on this drink – so much so that fans of the drink write tips for one another to mix and enjoy the beverage.

Mint Julep

The Mint Julep is the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby and May 30th is National Mint Julep Day. Made using mint, sugar, crushed ice, and bourbon whiskey, it’s as refreshing as it is easy to make. Essentially, it is a concoction that sweetens and adds a mint flavor to whiskey – the whiskey itself if the drink’s only liquid ingredient. To make a mint julep, you will need:

  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • 2 sugar cubes
  • 2 ½ ounces bourbon whiskey
  • Garnish with mint

Remember that the cocktail you create will have a unique flavor profile based on the style or brand of whiskey you choose. Especially when using craft whiskeys, you might create a new flavor every time. Keep experimenting to find your favorite! Visit The Barrel Mill to learn more about whiskey creations and the art of distilling whiskey.