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There are so many cocktails to now choose from that it’s no surprise if you are stumped on what to ask for when it’s your turn to order. This is especially true given that every person appreciates different flavours, aromas, and styles.

You might be a whisky drink novice who is looking to find your signature drink or a long-time whisky fan who wants to try something new. Well, let us lend you a hand.

We’ve compiled a list of the best whisky drinks from the top 5 classic cocktails including the Old Fashioned, Rob Roy, Whisky Sour, Julep and Whisky Smash, to more modern twists.

We’re sure that our list of the most popular whisky drinks to order at a bar has something for everyone. So, which one will you be asking the bartender to make?

Old Fashioned


The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail that has been served since the mid-1800s and it’s as popular now as it was back then. It’s made using a combination of whisky, bitters and sugar which provides aromatic notes without changing the flavour of the whisky too much. Served over ice and garnished with fresh orange peel, it’s simple yet refined.


Made with whisky, vermouth, and bitters, the Manhattan cocktail is said to have been invented at New York City’s Manhattan Club sometime in the late 19th century. It has remained a firm favourite since then with the core recipe having changed very little. It’s traditionally served in a martini glass and garnished with a maraschino cherry for an extra touch of sweetness. For a twist on this classic, ask for a Maraschino Cherry Manhattan which has the addition of Luxardo liquer. 

Whisky Sour

The first recorded mention of a whisky sour was in a Wisconsin newspaper in 1870. A classic whisky sour is a combination of whisky, lemon juice and simple syrup, with the optional addition of egg whites – although twists and tweaks to the recipe have appeared over the years. The inclusion of citrus gives this cocktail a hint of sharpness whilst keeping the drink wonderfully refreshing.

Whisky Smash

A Whisky Smash and Whisky Sour have very similar ingredients but the Smash is a slightly longer drink. Served over cubed ice with a sprig of mint, this summery cocktail is sweet, light and refreshing. You can’t go wrong with the original recipe but if you want to make it your own, there are plenty of Whisky Smash variations to try, from berries to garden herbs.

Hot Toddy

First believed to have been used as a medicinal aid to alleviate the symptoms of the common cold, the hot toddy is perfect for slowly sipping or enjoying as a nightcap. It combines whisky, honey, lemon, and cinnamon for a drink that is warming and sweet with a subtle spice. If you are seeking something refreshing rather than cosy, opt for it iced instead.


The Sazerac, originating from New Orleans, is another cocktail that is believed to have been first rustled up in the 1800s and it is hailed a close cousin of the Old Fashioned. The main differences are that the Sazerac is traditionally made with rye whisky and includes absinthe alongside bitters and sugar. The result is a sweet drink with a bitter and spicy bite.

Rusty Nail

This cocktail first appeared in 1937 at the British Industries Fair in New York but then fell off the radar until its reappearance in the 1950s. There is even mention that it was a favourite tipple of the Rat Pack in the 1960s. It is made by combining whisky with Drambuie, which, in itself, is a scotch-based liqueur. It’s a strong cocktail packed full of whisky flavour and can be easily adapted by using different whisky expressions.

Mint Julep

Whisky cocktails don’t get much more refreshing than the mint and whisky julep. As the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby, up to 12,000 are served over the two-day event – and we know why. It’s traditionally served in a silver julep cup, or failing that, a rocks glass, and served over lashings of crushed or shaved ice. The cocktail combines whiskey, sugar, and mint which creates a sweet and summery drink that is perfect for cooling you down on a hot day.

Whisky Highball


This simple combination of whisky and soda water makes the alcohol the star of the show and is a great way to appreciate the flavour of the whisky without any added sweetness. This cocktail is sometimes garnished with fresh lemon and mint leaves for an added zing. If you want to change it up a little, you can ask for ginger ale instead, like is used in our whisky and ginger ale cocktail, The Smoky Sputnik, for a more balanced drink.


Combining just two ingredients, whisky and amaretto, the Godfather utilises the almond and stone fruit flavours of the latter to create a drink that is sweeter than whisky on its own. That’s not to say that the whisky is overpowered, it’s simply softened so that you can enjoy this drink by sipping on it slowly. Ratios can vary from equal parts to a dry 8:1, but it is often made with three parts whisky to one part amaretto to take off the edge, but enhance the oaky, smoky notes of the whisky. Served over ice, it’s also a great accompaniment to rich desserts.

If you like the sound of these whisky cocktails, you don’t have to wait until your next evening out to try one. Grab a bottle of The Glenlivet and the other needed ingredients and craft yourself a drink. Check out our selection of whisky cocktail recipes for further inspiration on what to order or shake up at home. Why not get friends involved too? Take a look at our guides to hosting a brunch party and an outdoor dinner party.