5 Classic Whiskey Cocktails You Can Make in 3 Minutes (or Less!)

In recent years, the interest in whiskey of all types has sky rocketed.whiskey cocktails

An always popular alcohol choice, the rise of male-centered, period piece television shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire has driven up sales and interest even more than usual.

And with the recent heightened interest in all things barrel aged, whiskey has truly begun to shine.

Whether quaffed straight, on the rocks, or in a cocktail, whiskey is a great alcohol option for anyone craving something smokier and deeper in taste than the other liquors out there.

The cocktails are classics, recalling traditions of decades passed with every pour. Take one sip and suddenly you're reminded of those drinkers before you, inadvertently gaining a sense of sophistication and class that though enjoyable, is more imagined than earned. But hey, that's where the real fun lies, isn't it?

So for when you're ready to don those whiskey goggles and become the more sophisticated version of yourself, here are the top five most popular whiskey cocktails and how to make them.

1. Old Fashioned

old fashioned

The invention of the drink is frequently (and probably inaccurately) credited to a bartender at the Pendennis Club, in Louisville, Kentucky, who around the turn of the 20th century reportedly made the drink for Colonel James E. Pepper, a member of the club and by some accounts a prominent bourbon distiller.

There's a strikingly similar cocktail in Jerry Thomas's 1862 How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon-Vivant's Companion, called the "Whiskey Cocktail." What probably happened at Pendennis, says Robert Hess, founder of drinkboy.com and cofounder of the Museum of the American Cocktail, was that the bartender served a Whiskey Cocktail made the old-fashioned way — that is, the spirit combined with sugar, bitters, and water, the way cocktails were made as early as 1806.

Equipment Needed

  1. Jigger
  2. Bar spoon
  3. Muddler
  4. Old-fashioned glass


  • 2 oz Whiskey, preferably Rye Whiskey
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters (you can add more to your taste)
  • 1 sugar cube (or 1/2 teaspoon loose sugar)
  • Water
  • 1 orange slice for garnishing
  • 1 maraschino cherry

How to Prepare It

  1. In old-fashioned glass, add the sugar cube.
  2. Wet it down with 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and a short splash of water.
  3. Crush the sugar with a muddler, spoon, or whatever you have.
  4. Add enough ice to fill glass.
  5. Squeeze orange peel over glass to extract oils, and add the peel to the glass.
  6. Add whiskey.
  7. Stir just until drink is cold and alcoholic bite has softened, about a dozen times.
  8. Garnish with cherry, swizzle stick, and straw.

Time: 2.5 minutes.

2. Whiskey Sour

whiskey sour

A Sour is not so much a drink as it is a concept. Lemon or lime juice, almost any liquor, and sugar—in proper proportion—form a Sour. Don’t even think about using a packaged mix for this cocktail. A simple but magical blend, the Sour was first made with brandy in the middle of the 19th century. Bartenders have flirted with and still have their occasional flings with numerous other base alcohols, but whiskey was the liquor of choice by the end of the 19th century, with rye on equal footing with bourbon.

Always prepare Sours fresh. Here is a foolproof rule of thumb for making a perfect Sour every time: Mix 2 ounces of your chosen spirit with 1 teaspoon sugar and 3/4 ounce lemon or lime juice (the “sour” flavor), and shake with cracked ice. Shake a Sour well for a truly frothy drink, and serve it straight up in a cocktail glass, over the rocks in a hefty Old Fashioned glass, or in a Sour glass. Garnish with any assortment of seasonally fresh fruit.


  • Cocktail shaker
  • Jigger
  • Strainer (if using a boston shaker)
  • Old-fashioned glass (also a highball works)


  • 2 oz Whiskey (preferably Rye)
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice (preferably fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 orange and lemon slice for garnishing
  • 1 maraschino cherry

How to Prepare It

  1. Put whiskey, lemon juice and sugar into a shaker.
  2. Shake vigorously with ice for about 20 seconds to chill the liquid really well.
  3. Strain over ice into a chilled cocktail glass, Old Fashioned glass, or highball glass.
  4. Garnish with an orange or lemon slice (or both) and a maraschino cherry.

Time: 2 minutes.

3. Manhattan

manhattan cocktail

When properly built, the Manhattan is the only cocktail that can slug it out toe-to-toe with the martini. It's bold and fortifying, yet as relaxing as a deep massage. J.P. Morgan used to have one at the close of each trading day. It's that kind of drink.

"When properly built"—there's the problem. For a real Manhattan, you need rye whiskey. No amount of fiddling with the vermouth and bitters can save this drink if you've got bourbon in the foundations; it's just too sticky-sweet. But with rye, this venerable creation—its roots stretch back to the old Manhattan Club, in 1874—is as close to divine perfection as a cocktail can be. The harmony between the bitters, the sweet vermouth, and the sharp, musky whiskey rivals even that existing between gin and tonic water.


  • Mixing glass
  • Bar spoon
  • Jigger
  • Strainer (preferably a Julep)
  • Cocktail glass (preferably a Martini glass)


  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters (you can add more to taste)
  • 1 maraschino cherry

How to Prepare It

  1. Put whiskey, vermouth and bitters into a mixing glass and stir with ice.
  2. Rub the orange peel around the rim of the cocktail glass.
  3. Strain the drink into the cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with cherry.

Time: 2 minutes

4. Sazerac


According to Rob Chirico, author of the Field Guide to Cocktails, this iconic New Orleans cocktail dates to the 1850s, when it was served at the Sazerac Coffee House. American whiskey eventually replaced the brandy of the original. Rinsing the glass with absinthe gives the cocktail the right touch of herbal perfume without upsetting the balance—you can always substitute Pernod if you don’t happen to have a bottle of absinthe.


  1. Mixing glass
  2. Bar spoon
  3. Jigger
  4. Strainer (preferably a Julep)
  5. Old-fashioned glass


  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 2 dashes Peychaud bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 bar spoon of Absinthe (substitute Pernod if you don’t happen to have a bottle of absinthe)
  • Water
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 1 sugar cube (or 1/2 teaspoon loose sugar)

How to Prepare It

  1. Put the sugar cube in a mixing glass with just enough water to moisten it.
  2. Use the back of a barspoon to crush the cube.
  3. Add the rye, both bitters, and ice and stir until chilled, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the absinthe to a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Turn the glass to coat the sides with the absinthe, then pour out the excess.
  5. Strain the rye mixture into the absinthe-coated glass.
  6. Twist and squeeze the lemon peel over the glass.
  7. Rub the rim of the glass with the peel, drop it into the cocktail, and serve.

Time: 3 minutes.

5. Mint Julep

mint julep

The mint julep originated in the southern United States, probably during the eighteenth century.

Several aspects of the mint julep combine to mark its provider out as of the elite, beyond the mere ability to offer a drink: firstly, to have ice meant either ownership of an ice house or wealth to buy ice, an expensive commodity in the American south. Second, the traditional silver (not silver-plated) cup is a mark of wealth. Thirdly, one needed a servant to make and serve the drink, a trusty servant who could have access to your ice house, your whiskey, and your silver, a skilled servant who could produce the properly frosted cup.


  • Bar spoon
  • Jigger
  • Muddler
  • Mint julep cup


  • 3 oz Bourbon Whiskey (preferably from Kentucky)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Mint leaves for garnishing

How to Prepare It

  1. Place 5 or 6 leaves of mint in the bottom of a prechilled, dry silver Julep cup.
  2. Add sugar and crush slightly with a muddler.
  3. Pack glass with finely cracked ice.
  4. Pour a generous 3 ounces of Kentucky bourbon over the ice.
  5. Stir briskly until the glass frosts.
  6. Add more ice and stir again before serving.
  7. Stick a few sprigs of mint into the ice so that the partaker will get the aroma.

Time: 3 minutes.

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BONUS: Get a Video Tutorial of Each Recipe

Since you've read so much about whiskey cocktails and how to make them, right now you must have a pretty good idea on how to get started making cocktails like a bartender.

However, I know many people are more visual than others (ie. they need to watch something instead of read it).

Because of that, we're offering a short list of video tutorials that will show you step-by-step how to make each cocktail.

This is all included in our one-page PDF you can download by clicking the button below: