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Some simple whiskey cocktails to make your weekend a little more interesting

Editor’s note: Brien is a well-traveled Houstonian and Army Combat Veteran with an extremely wide range of talents and interests including the NFL (Packers), Irish History, and writing. Follow him on twitter @ODonalsVanguard


Ah, whiskey; that great spirit we enjoy so much. I love that its name origin in Gaelic (usice beathal in Irish and uisge beatha in Scots) translates to “Water of Life.” I myself keep several styles and brands at home in order to enjoy whatever suits my taste or drink at the moment. Over the past few years I have really begun to explore all that whiskey has to offer in the immense variety that exists within the category. Of course my favorites start with Irish but having tried so many it’s hard to be exclusive. One thing that has helped me along has been the use of cocktail recipes that are simple to make and give you the opportunity to really taste the flavor if you can’t bother drinking it straight. Because I am all about shared knowledge I have provided my three basic recipes below so that you all may share my enjoyment.

First of all, the most important thing I did was to purchase proper bar supplies. If you go to most restaurant supply stores they are rather cheap. Jiggers are essential for proper measuring and my most used sizes are ½ oz, ¾ oz, 1 oz, and 2 oz. Other items needed are a stirrer, a shaker, and pour spouts. Another thing I strongly recommend are trays for large ice cubes. These are a little more expensive than the other supplies but keeping your drink cold without watering it down goes a long way toward keeping the flavor intact throughout the drinking process. Whiskey stones are nice but I like them more for drinking it straight.


An “Old Fashioned” is a pretty common drink these days but I find that people often think it has to have fruit. It does not. This recipe works well without it for those of you who aren’t into the fruit (although it still works with fruit if you are so inclined). As for the whiskey, I prefer bourbon or Tennessee Whiskey but other styles can be used.

To your shaker add:

1/2 oz simple syrup

2 dashes of angostura bitters (in my personal variation of this I use one dash angostura and 1 dash orange bitters)

2 oz whiskey

Add 2-3 regular ice cubes to the shaker and stir.

(When stirring, do so gently around the outer edge of the shaker 2-4 rotations. You’re not trying to create a violent mix; you’re simply blending the flavors.)

Strain your cocktail over ice and enjoy.

Note: If you do want to add fruit, do so in the step before adding the whiskey. Muddle it by pressing down firmly on the fruit with a spoon or muddler, allowing it to release its flavor without becoming a disgusting mess at the bottom. Use a 1/8 size orange wedge and 1 maraschino cherry.


A “Whiskey Sour” has always been one of my favorite cocktails. The sourness of the lemon really blends with the bite of the whiskey to even out into a smooth drink. Often times when you order this at a bar they are using premade sour mix that tastes nothing at all like it should. I know this because when I was younger that’s how I was introduced to it and since I didn’t know any better I thought it was great. This recipe is much better. My whiskey preference for this cocktail is Belle Meade Sour Mash, but any sour mash, or bourbon is delicious as well.

To your shaker add:

3/4 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice (please do not try to use any other substitute or bad things can happen)

1/4 oz simple syrup (I fill my 1/2 oz jigger till it looks about halfway)

2 oz whiskey

Add 2-3 regular ice cubes to the shaker and stir.

Strain over ice and enjoy.


A less common drink these days is a “Manhattan”. I rarely drink these but occasionally the bite of the vermouth adds a distinct flavor to the whiskey. Recipes vary as to what the ratio of vermouth to whiskey is, but I’m not big on vermouth so I keep it minimal. The big difference between this and the recipes I listed above is that rye whiskey is really the only choice. Any other kind is just too sweet for the right balance of flavor. Templeton is my go to for that.

To your shaker add:

1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1 dash of angostura bitters

Muddle 1 cherry by pressing it firmly against the bottom of the shaker with a spoon or muddler

2 oz rye whiskey

Add 2-3 regular ice cubes to the shaker and stir.

Strain over ice and enjoy.

There you have it! Three simple cocktail recipes you can make without too much trouble. These have provided me with much better options than straight whiskey when I’m entertaining guests or simply want more flavors.

On another note; I thought I would leave you with a little fun. If you couldn’t tell by my name, I’m of Irish descent. I love being Irish and everything about the culture. One of those things is the wonderful music. So here is a tune that often comes to my mind when I am taking the top off a bottle. It’s what is known as a sea shanty. It’s the type of song that men on sailing ships would sing together while working and away from civilization out on the ocean. It’s called Whiskey is the Life of Man.

Oh, whiskey is the life of man

Always was since the world began


Whiskey-o, Johnny-o

Rise her up from down below

Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey-o

Up aloft this yard must go

John rise her up from down below

Whiskey made me pawn me clothes

Whiskey gave me a broken nose


I thought I heard the first mate say

I treats me crew in a decent way


Oh, whiskey is the life of man

Whiskey from an old tin can


A glass of whiskey all around

And a bottle full for the shanty man


1 Comment on Some simple whiskey cocktails to make your weekend a little more interesting

  1. What great recipes! Saving this list to try them all later! Fantastic.


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