Whiskey drinking culture doesn’t have to be the sole domain of Glencairn glasses, eyedroppers and stuffy tasting sessions (contrary to what the whiskey cognoscenti might say). It can be something both more casual and elegant. That is the role of the cocktail. Here, the ten best whiskey-based cocktails to make at home.

Old Fashioned

There’s much to dispute regarding the undisputed king of whiskey cocktails. Rye or bourbon? Cherry or no cherry? Soda or no soda? This recipe, courtesy of the now-closed whiskey bar Post Office in Brooklyn, keeps it straightforward, approachable and altogether classic. Affordable rye, no cherry, a pair of citrus peels, some bitters and a sugar cube — that’s it.

Manhattan

Source: Food & Wine | Photo: Wendell T. Webber

Two parts whiskey to one part vermouth with a pair of Angostura bitters stirred in ice. That’s the most classic version of this classic whiskey drink, and it’s exactly what Food & Wine‘s recipe calls for. Throw a maraschino cherry on top for garnish.

Whiskey Smash

Source: Bon Appétit | Photo: Zach DeSart

Smash cocktails are not sophisticated drinks. They are cold, bright and refreshing. And though the whiskey smash often takes a backseat to its vodka and rum counterparts, it’s no less enjoyable.

Milk Punch

Source: Garden & Gun | Photo: Johnny Autry

Most milk punch nowadays is built around bourbon, not brandy. Make it instead of eggnog during the holidays. Garden & Gun’s recipe comes from a cocktail bar in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Whiskey Highball

Source: Punch | Photo: Lizzie Munro

An argument could be made that the highball is not a cocktail, but the ubiquity and painstaking attention to detail on display in Japanese whisky highball culture demands its inclusion on this list. Punch’s recipe comes courtesy of a small cocktail bar in Kaga, Japan.

Mint Julep

Source: Liquor.com

The Kentucky Derby classic doesn’t have to be an annual drink. It’s fresh, cold and lets your choice bourbon do most of the work, so you don’t have to.

Rattlesnake

Source: Bon Appétit | Photo: Ted Cavanaugh

The Rattlesnake is a powerful, albeit lesser-known drink. At first glance (and taste), it’s easy to mistake it for a classic whiskey sour. Then the absinthe hits. Use a whiskey with an especially high rye content so that the rye’s spiciness cuts through the egg white and lemon. Redemption Rye and WhistlePig’s rye offerings both work well in this regard, as does the much-maligned Bulleit rye.

Hot Toddy

Source: Epicurious

We can’t comment on its efficacy as a salve for the common cold, but we can say it’s a nice way to warm up in a dark New York winter. The use of low-rye bourbon, lemon and hot water makes the vanilla flavors in the whiskey explode forward.

Whiskey Sour

Source: Punch | Photo: Daniel Krieger

Few drinks are as foundational to cocktail culture as the humble sour. It’s sweet, rich and, of course, pleasantly sour. But the addition of the egg white into the standard combination of lemon, sugar, whiskey and ice makes it something else entirely — technically, that’s a Boston Sour.

Sazerac

Source: Garden & Gun | Photo: Cedric Angeles

The straightforwardness of the Sazerac makes it appear to be a simple drink. It isn’t. Striking the balance between bitters, simple syrup, absinthe and spirit is a sign of bartending proficiency. And though it’s almost always made as a whiskey drink now, its roots are cognac-based. Feel free to substitute the cognac in this recipe for your choice rye if that’s not your thing.

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