Cocktails Whiskey

Whisky Highball

Japanese Whisky Highball Nikka Taketsuru

There are few alcoholic beverages as refreshing as a whiskey Highball. They’re easy to make and allow for fun experimentation. I used Nikka Taketsuru, a blended malt as many Japanese whiskies are, and it works perfectly in a highball (haibōru).

The type of whiskey you choose is up to you. You can use single malt scotch, Irish whiskey, Canadian whisky, bourbon, rye…I think you get the picture. Try it with your preferred whiskey style, then do some experimenting to see which you like best.

Whiskey Highball

An easy-to-make cocktail that is super delicious and refreshing.


  • 2 oz. Whiskey

  • Soda Water

  • Lemon Peel for Garnish


  • Fill a tall glass at least half full of ice.
  • Add whisky.
  • Top with soda water. There should be at least twice as much soda as whisky, and more is fine.
  • Give it a gentle stir, then garnish with a lemon peel, if desired.
Brandy Cocktails

Bolthouse Farms Holiday Nog

The holidays just aren’t the same without a little eggnog. And eggnog just isn’t the same without a little something extra.

I don’t generally care for most store-bought nogs, but I have to say, this Bolthouse Farms Holiday Nog is quite tasty. Rich and creamy and brown sugar sweet without being cloying or gloopy.

As for that little something extra…You can add any of your favorite brown spirits: whiskey, rum (especially spiced rum), brandy, whatever you desire. In this case I chose Delord Bas Armagnac X.O., a tasty blend of brandies 15 years and older that can be had for a reasonable price, usually around $50-60.

Top with a little freshly ground nutmeg and you’ve got a perfect little sweet treat. The holidays are hot on our heels! Better stock up now. You’re gonna need it.


Cocktail Recipe: Brooklyn

Now that I have a bottle of Amer Picon, it was time to make a Brooklyn cocktail. This was long one of the better variations on the Manhattan, but it has frustrated bartenders in recent years due to the unavailability of the French bittersweet liqueur.

There are some substitutes for Amer Picon that have gained popularity over the years. Assuming you don’t want to make it yourself, Bigallet China-China liqueur is probably the best replacement, although you can also use Amaro CioCiaro in a pinch. But I wanted to try it with the real thing.

If you like the taste of a Manhattan — strong, yet balanced, with the rich, spicy flavor of rye — but are looking for something a little less sweet, then the borough of Brooklyn is definitely where you want to go.

Brooklyn Cocktail

Brooklyn Cocktail

The whiskey is the star of the show here, so make sure to use a good one.


  • 2 oz. Rye Whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. Maraschino Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz. Amer Picon


  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice, then stir until very cold. Serve in a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry, if desired.


Cocktail Recipe: Strawberry Whiskey Smash

The Whiskey Smash, resurrected and tweaked many years ago at the Rainbow Room by Dale DeGroff, is one of the best summertime bourbon drinks. Cold and refreshing, the mix of tart citrus and sweet mint/fruit makes for a delicious balance with the whiskey. (And it’s also, in my opinion, a better drink than the far more popular Mint Julep. It’s certainly a more complex one.)

Here is a variation with strawberries from Benny Hurwitz, bartender at Jack Rose Dining Saloon in D.C. This is an easily modifiable cocktail, so you can change up the ingredients based on what you have, as long as you stick to the same basic concept and proportions. And, as always, use a good bourbon.

Strawberry Whiskey Smash

Strawberry Whiskey Smash

Adapted from a recipe by Benny Hurwitz of the Jack Rose Saloon in Washington, D.C, after Dale DeGroff.


  • 1 1/2 oz. Bourbon Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. Simple Syrup (1:1)
  • 1/2 Lemon (cut into 3 wedges)
  • 2-3 Strawberries (depending on size)
  • 5 Mint Leaves


  1. Muddle the strawberries, lemon and mint with the simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker. Add the whiskey and shake with ice. Fine strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and strawberry.
  2. For a stronger drink, you can increase the amount of bourbon to 2 oz.

Original recipe courtesy of WTOP.


Cocktail Recipe: The Apple Claus

A charming seasonal cocktail, containing two of my favorite cold-weather flavors: bourbon and apples.

The Apple Claus

The Apple Claus

Adapted from a recipe by Laura Moore at The Epicurean Hotel Edge rooftop bar.


  • 1 1/2 oz. Four Roses Bourbon Small Batch
  • 3/4 oz. Apple Cinnamon Tea Syrup
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Orange Twist or Apple Slice (for garnish)
  • Apple Cinnamon Tea Syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 whole apple (minus core) cut into pieces
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 tea bags or 4 tbsp loose tea


  1. To Make the Cocktail
  2. Shake all ingredients with ice, then strain into a chilled coupe. Top with sparkling wine (prosecco, Champagne or Apple Cider.) Garnish with an orange twist or apple slice.
  3. To Make Apple Cinnamon Tea Syrup
  4. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add tea and steep for 5 minutes. When finished, remove the tea bags or strain out loose tea.
  5. Return tea to the stove and add sugar, cinnamon and apples. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat, then simmer on low for approximately 5 minutes.
  6. Cool and strain, then pour into a sealed bottle. The syrup will easily keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.


National Daiquiri Day — Who Cares? Let’s Drink!

Tomorrow is National Daiquiri Day. That’s silly, of course. But what’s not silly are Daiquiris themselves. In fact, they’re more than a little awesome.

Daiquiri Bacardi cocktail rum recipe drink


The original Daiquiri was made with Bacardi Superior (white) rum. That’s still a good place to start. (Although I prefer some of their other rums more.)

Daiquiris are very easy to make, so it’s a great cocktail to try at home. (And you have a much better chance of getting a good one that way than at your local dive bar.) Just remember to use fresh-squeezed lime juice and your favorite rum.

Here’s a simple Daiquiri recipe.



Cocktail Recipe: Eye-Opening Eggnog

This festive and decadent drink will put you in the mood for the holidays with a delicious mixture of Caffè Borghetti Espresso-Coffee Liqueur (to give you that little extra eye-opening jolt), a top-quality spiced rum like Chairman’s Reserve, and eggnog. You can make your own eggnog — that’s always preferable. But I generally use a good-quality store-bought version.

Think of it as a very grown-up holiday version of a caffè latte. Enjoy!

Eye-Opening Eggnog

Eye-Opening Eggnog


  • 1 1/2 oz. Caffè Borghetti Espresso-Coffee Liqueur
  • 3/4 oz. Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum
  • 6 oz. Egg Nog
  • 1 dash of Angostura Bitters


  1. Add the ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake gently. Strain into a festive glass. Top with grated nutmeg, if desired.


Cocktail Recipe: Spanish-Style Gin Tonica

Surprising though it may seem, the most popular cocktail in Spain is the Gin and Tonic or “Gin Tonica” as it’s often known.

Taken for granted by many Americans — and many of the British as well — the Spanish have adopted this stolid stand-by as a refreshing, versatile quaff with an endless stream of variations.

Beyond the expected gin, tonic, and lime, the Spanish version contains all matter of fruits, herbs, and other aromatic flourishes. It could lemon peel or grapefruit, but it could also be rosemary, mint, cardamom, Serrano chili, cloves, lavender, kumquat, lemon verbena — you get the picture.

Also of note is the glass the Gin Tonica is usually served in. In this case, the bigger, the better. A large balloon glass (sometimes used for red wine) or copa glass is a great choice, but a pint glass will work in a pinch.

The skill of the bartender is in guiding the guest’s palate towards the right additions for the right gin. But this is where you can play mixologist at home. Almost none of these combinations would taste bad, so you can feel free to experiment without risking doing serious damage to your drink.

So lay in a handful of different ingredients and a gin or three — and maybe even a variety of tonics to explore — and let your imagination and your palate run wild.

Spanish-Style Gin Tonica

Spanish-Style Gin Tonica


  • 2 oz. London Dry Gin (such as Tanqueray)
  • 4 oz. Tonic Water (such as Fever-Tree)
  • Thin slice of Pink Grapefruit
  • Medium Slice (or Wedge) of Lime
  • Sprig of Rosemary
  • Lime Wheel, for garnish


  1. Build in a balloon glass over ice. Add gin, tonic, fruit, herbs, and/or other aromatics, and stir briefly. Garnish as desired.


Cocktail Recipe: Mai Tai-IPA

You folks know that I love Tiki drinks, and that the regular Mai Tai is one of my favorites. Here’s an interesting twist on the classic that includes Indian Pale Ale. Sounds strange, I know. But including beer in cocktails is a popular trend right now.

Bartender-turned-author Jacob Grier literally wrote the book on beer cocktails. It’s called Cocktails on Tap: The Art of Mixing Spirits and Beer and it’s a fascinating book with a lot of good recipes.

Take a look at what he’s done here with Trader Vic’s creation.

Mai Tai-IPA

Mai Tai-IPA


  • 1 1/2 oz. IPA Beer
  • 1 oz. Aged Rum (such as El Dorado 8)
  • 1 oz. White Rum (such as El Dorado 3)
  • 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 3/4 oz. Orgeat Syrup
  • 1/2 oz. Orange Curacao
  • Maraschino Cherry, for garnish


  1. Shake everything with ice (including the beer), then strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with a cherry.


Recipe from Jacob Grier's "Cocktails on Tap."

Co-created by Ezra Johnson-Greenough.

Photo credit: David L. Reamer


Cocktail Tip of the Day: Shake It Like You Mean It

Cocktail Tip of the DayOne of the first things I notice when I sit down at a bar, after studying their menu and the bottles on the backbar, is how the bartenders shake their drinks.

With most average-quality and below bars, the tenders will give the cocktails a limpid shake, as if they’re afraid they’re going to hurt it.

Wrong! In almost all cases you want to shake the hell out of that drink. A weak, brief shake does almost nothing. A proper shake combines, dilutes, and chills — and does it fast. This is the whole point of shaking.

So stop rocking your cocktails to sleep. Shake it like you mean it!

Here is the great Japanese bartender Kazuo Uyeda showing you how.