There’s nothing wrong with a whiskey ginger. Sweet, spicy ginger ale makes a fine mixer for the brown spirit, and it’s especially easy to drink down. But if you’re stuck in a cocktail rut and are wondering what else you can mix with whiskey, there are lots of easy, tasty ways to make a cocktail that don’t involve the sugary soda. Here are five great mixers for whiskey that aren’t ginger ale.
Sweet, tangy lemonade is one of the most refreshing things you can drink come summer. But when you spike it with bourbon, all of a sudden the childhood favorite becomes an adult backyard barbecue staple. Simply add ice to a glass, pour in two ounces of whiskey and top with lemonade to taste. You can even muddle in fruit like blackberries or blueberries to make it extra fruity and delicious.
While Whiskey Gingers taste great, the sweet soda often covers up the intricate flavors of more nuanced bottlings. Instead, reach for a topper of fizzy, refreshing soda water. Because soda water has a neutral flavor, you’ll really be able to taste your favorite whiskies, and the drink will have less calories (and zero sugar) to boot. While any whiskey will do, we prefer a Japanese Highball (mixed, appropriately, with Japanese whisky) when it’s made with care and precision.
While shopping for the perfect sweet vermouth might be a bit daunting, we promise that playing with the aromatized wine isn’t scary once you get to know it better. Find a bottle you love (we have some suggestions to get you started), and simply mix two parts whiskey to one part sweet vermouth. Voila, you (almost) have yourself a Manhattan! Add a few dashes of bitters to give the cocktail depth and distinction. While Manhattans are traditionally made with rye, feel free to experiment with bourbon if you prefer a sweeter version of the cocktail.
Come fall, there is no better mixer for whiskey than freshly pressed apple cider. The zesty juice enhances whiskey’s oaky notes and complements its caramel sweetness. While you could heat the apple cider to make a comforting hot-tail, the mix of appley goodness and whiskey also tastes amazing when served chilled over ice on warmer days.
The breakfast of champions, a whiskey-spiked coffee is the best part of waking up. Irish Coffee—which is sweetened with simple syrup and finished with a topper of whipped cream—is perhaps the most famous, but you can use any whiskey of your choice to spike the caffeinated beverage. We suggest adding two ounces of bourbon to a mug and topping it with equal parts coffee and hot chocolate. When you get a taste for the bitter mixer, try your hand at a more complicated cocktail like the Witches’ Coffee House, which is spiked with smoky scotch, frothy egg white and a tangy black lime syrup.