If you want to get through the winter sans sickness, then equip yourself with a whiskey-inspired strategy. You heard right. Pour, sip, and repeat to keep away the nastiest of colds—no matter how nasty the cold gets outside.
Don’t want your whiskey or bourbon neat? No problem. We’ve got tried and true—and a couple of new—cocktails to pull you through. With trendy whiskey cure-all cocktails like the Penicillin; Japanese-whisky easy drinkers like the Hakushu and Soda; and all the usual suspects, from a piping Hot Toddy to the Manhattan, you can reverse winter’s chill one sip at a time.
Try one, or all (let’s be honest; the winter’s long) of these winter whiskey cocktails. And for a few whiskies you really should try straight, see the Straight Shooter notes below.
Penicillin (SCOTCH WHISKY)
We have celebrity mixologist Sam Ross, of New York's Milk & Honey, to cheers for this sickness stopper (and exceptional hair of the dog). It's light and refreshing—and quickly loosens you up. Combine 2 oz any of your favorite single malt scotch (or blended scotch like Famous Grouse), 1/4 oz Laphroaig, 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice, and 3/4 oz honey-ginger syrup in shaker with ice. Shake; strain into rocks glass, ideally with one very large ice cube (dilutes the drink slowly), and garnish with candied ginger.
Straight Shooter: Preferred by gentlemen with royal titles, like Prince William, The Black Grouse Alpha Edition has a sweet and dry blended malt with a smoky, slightly peaty essence.
Whisky Skin/Hot Toddy (SCOTCH WHISKY)
One of the original names for the Hot Toddy, the Whisky Skin is boozy and hot—exactly what we want when the wind is gusting 25 mph and it feels like 10 degrees F below holy crap. When you order the Whisky Skin, you’ll get the truest interpretation of a Hot Toddy: Scotch whiskey, hot water, citrus, plus a dash of sugar. You can add apple cider, or adapt this with any spirit; but make sure it’s a quality spirit, since cheap ones stand out even more when heated. Fill a mug with boiling water to preheat; empty. Add 1 teaspoon of Demerara sugar and a lemon peel. Stir in 1 oz of boiling water until sugar is dissolved. Add 2 oz of Macallan, or Ardbeg if you’re a peat lover. Top with 1 oz more of boiling water.
Straight Shooter: Try a Macallan neat from the new 1824 Series, featuring the most balanced, rich expressions of single malts. The Sienna, for example, aged in sherry casks, gives you subtle orange, vanilla, and white chocolate, and ginger. Per usual, another perfect Macallan.
Hakushu and Soda (JAPANESE WHISKY)
A Japanese winner’s twist on Scotch and Soda. The Yamazaki Sherry Cask was voted the 2013 Best Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, but parent company Suntory has enough award winners to go around. Yamazaki’s brother expression, Hakusu, is so perfect for a Scotch and Soda, and this simple S&S has a depth and smoothness that truly impresses. Fresh yet ever-so-slightly smoky, it’s a gentleman’s No. 1 wingman for the long, fun night ahead. Add 1 part Hakushu to three parts club soda.
Straight Shooter: If you can actually find the Whisky Bible–award winning 48% ABV Yamazaki Sherry Cask, you’ll be scoring a rich, fruity expression from Japan’s oldest distillery.
Blood and Sand (SCOTCH WHISKY)
This is a slightly drier and less sweet take on the classic Blood and Sand, according to Difford's Guide, that ups the Scotch and OJ. And a small topper of a peaty Islay whisky rounds out the fruity essences. Pour 1 oz blended Scotch whisky like Famous Grouse or Dewars, 3/4 oz Cherry Herring, 3/4 oz Martini & Rossi Rosso sweet vermouth, and 1 oz fresh squeezed orange juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Top with 1/8 oz Islay single malt Scotch and garnish with orange peel.
Straight Shooter: An essential in Dewar’s world-famous blends for since 1898, Aberfeldy now stands proudly on its own two feet: With a full, slightly smoky (not peaty) and super-clean finish, this one should be on your list of new single malts not to miss.
Another in the Dewar’s family, Royal Brackla 35 Year Old in Sherry Cask goes for $15,000 a bottle. And we know precisely why: The first distillery to get a Royal Warrant from King William IV of the United Kingdom, it’s an impeccably perfect, luxuriously smooth dram. Memorable and oaky on the palate but not smoky on the nose. A phenomenally balanced single malt.
Manhattan (RYE WHISKEY)
Not in a Martini mood? You need another classic to step in as your right-hand man: enter the rye Manhattan. A blend of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters will set you straight. To make, add 2 oz rye whiskey, ½ oz Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth, and 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters into mixing glass with ice. Stir well and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel, and maraschino cherries.
Irish Coffee (IRISH WHISKEY)
Originally developed at Shannon Airport in Ireland by Joseph Sheridan, the Irish coffee we know in the US has become one of winter’s favorite combinations to pick you up while calming you down. It’s a deviously simple concoction: Fill a glass with hot water to preheat; empty. Pour in hot brewed coffee until it's 3/4 full. Drop in two sugar cubes or 1 oz brown sugar syrup (or Demerara syrup), and stir until dissolved. Add 1.5 oz Jameson Irish Whiskey; stir. Lightly whip the unsweetened cream until pourable, then pour onto coffee by pouring slowly over the back of a spoon so it floats.
Straight Shooter: Tropical notes with a sweet cereal core, the Jameson Select Reserve sits full on the palate. It’s got a thicker body than the core Jameson, and finishes long with cinnamon and fruits.
Whiskey Sour (BOURBON)
Bourbon, lemon, and simple syrup—that’s as easy as it gets. There’s nothing fancy here. Just a slightly sweet and slightly sour tipple, plus an egg white if desired. To make, add 2 oz rye whiskey or bourbon, ¾ oz simple syrup, 1 oz fresh lemon juice, and 1 optional egg white. Add all ingredients to shaker with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into chilled glass; garnish with orange slice.
Bourbon Old Fashioned (BOURBON)
We like this lighter smoother version of this classic by legendary master mixologist, Dale Degroff, which includes club soda and is then muddled. It’s a year-round classic, but every winter, more men venture to try this bawdy brunette. Muddle 4 dashes of Angostura bitters, 1 brown and 1 white sugar cube, 1 orange wheel, and one Maraschino cherry in an Old Fashioned glass. Remove and discard orange rind only. Add bourbon and fill with ice, then garnish with a fresh orange wheel and cherry.
Beggar’s Banquet (BOURBON)
If you’re typically a beer-and-whiskey guy, free up one of your hands with this Maker’s Mark cocktail by Liquor.com advisory board member, Aisha Sharpe. Add 2 dashes Angostura Bitters, .25 oz fresh lemon juice, .75 oz maple syrup, and 2 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon to shaker filled with ice. Shake; strain into highball glass filled with ice. Top with Old Speckled Hen beer. Garnish with half a fresh orange wheel.