I’m not huge on cocktails in general, but I do enjoy a few of them. They’re not fruity things with flowers or umbrellas. The list is short, and only one was traditionally whisky based. The list is pretty short, though:
Rusty Nail (as already mentioned, still my go-to whisky cocktail)
A good bloody mary (must have horseradish, and a smoked tomato makes it even better)
Caipirhinha (refreshing Brazilian drink with lime and cane sugar)
Mint Julep (what else is one to drink on Derby Day?)
Mojito (also great for summer days)
That’s about all I go for cocktail-wise. However, I found a cocktail new to me about a year or so ago that’s great on a hot summer day AND is kind of whisky based. It’s called a smoky bleu martini, though it’s not really a martini (no vermouth). The way I do it, it doesn’t use gin or vodka, either.
The main ingredient when I make one of these is some form of white dog (unaged whisk(e)y). Some of these can be pretty rough, so try one before using it. I have found that I like Wasmund’s Single Malt Spirit, from Copper Fox Distillery in Virginia. It’s 62% ABV, and 100% hand malted barley, smoked with apple and cherry wood. It’s got a light smokiness and is pretty drinkable.
I pour 2 ounces of the Wasmund’s white dog into a shaker filled with ice, then add a drizzle (this is to taste, but no more than 1 teaspoon) of a peaty Islay whisky. Laphroaig is traditional, but I use Ardbeg or Lagavulin if I feel like it. Also more traditional would be to swirl the whisky in a cocktail glass to coat it, just like one might do with vermouth in a martini, but I tend to prefer just adding the whisky to the shaker.
I shake the mixture for a good 30 seconds or more, to get it really cold. Also, the ABV is high enough I actually want to water it down a touch. Then I strain it into a cocktail glass and add 3 bleu cheese olives (hence the bleu part of “smoky bleu”). It should be cold enough to almost have a very thin layer of ice over the top.
The smoky bleu martini has the smoke and sweetness of a good whisky, just at a lower concentration, and the bleu cheese olives just taste good with it. Purists will argue the “martini”-ness of this, and I agree it’s not really a martini, but I don’t correct people who call a cocktail glass a martini glass… In other words, if calling this a martini is offensive to you, get over it… No animals were harmed in calling this a martini.
Are there any cocktails you use whisky to make? I generally prefer whisky by itself, but sometimes it’s nice to enjoy it other ways.