5 Old School, Yet Simple Summertime Whiskey Drinks

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Whiskey and cocktails have always been good friends. From the humble beginnings of the Old-Fashioned, to the innumerable variations which appear in modern cocktail bars, whiskey has always had a special place in cocktail culture.

While many perceive whiskey as a heavy ingredient, it often offers a nuanced yet bold profile that can be quiet refreshing if handled properly, making it an ideal spirit for mixing cocktails on hot summer nights. However, for an at-home cocktail enthusiast, it can be a difficult to know where to start with whiskey cocktails, as the spirit’s bracing nature can often be hard to incorporate and balance.

To help get an idea of what you are up against, this article will delve in to 5 simple whiskey cocktail recipes that will be the perfect compliment to your backyard in summertime.


Tennessee cocktail recipe

Offering a perfect balance between sweet, sour and boozy, the Tennessee is an underappreciated cocktail that utilizes classic ingredients to deliver a refreshing zest to cool you down on a hot day.

  • In a shaker, combine
    • 5 oz Rye Whiskey
    • 5 oz Maraschino Liqueur
    • 5 oz lemon juice
  • Shake with ice
  • Fine strain into a martini glass or coupe
  • Serve up, garnish with a maraschino cherry


 Brown Derby

brown derby rye whiskey cocktail recipe

Grapefruit is not often paired with whiskey, but in this drink, its bitter, malty citrus flavor combines perfectly with the sweetness of honey and the smoky quality of a good bourbon.

  • In a shaker, combine
    • 2 oz Bourbon
    • 0.75 oz Fresh grapefruit juice
    • 5 oz honey
  • Shake with ice
  • Fine strain into martini glass or coupe
  • Serve up, garnish with a grapefruit twist


Based on the classic summer Italian libation, the Negroni, this drink is the epitome of spirit forward balance. Bitter, smoky, citrusy and a little sweet, this drink delivers on all fronts to provide an invigorating summertime drinking experience.

  • In a rocks glass, combine
    • 0.75 oz Bourbon or Rye (whichever you prefer)
    • 0.75 oz Sweet Vermouth
    • 0.75 oz Campari
  • Add just enough ice to cover the bottom of the glass
  • Stir for 20-30 seconds
  • Add ice to the top of the glass
  • Stir another 5 seconds
  • Garnish with an orange zest
    • Try with a flamed zest for a little more flair, as well as an added smoky element

Red Hook

This is another boozy, yet refreshing cocktail which again follows an incredibly simple format predicated on an equilibrium between ingredients. Sweet elements play a large role here, but are kept in check by the potency of bitters and the zesty spice of Rye.

  • In a mixing vessel, combine
    • 5 oz Rye whiskey
    • 5 oz Punt e Mes
    • 0.25 oz Maraschino liqueur
    • 2 dash Angostura bitters
  • Add ice and stir for 30-45 seconds
  • Strain into coupe
  • Serve up, no garnish


Penicillin cocktail recipe

Not for the faint of heart, this cocktail’s in your face combo of citrus and smoke can be surprisingly refreshing. Using 2 different types of scotch whisky, this drink exhibits the versatility of this ingredient, as both spirits bring their own unique element to this dynamic cocktail.

  • In a shaker, combine
    • 2 oz Famous Grouse blended Scotch Whisky
    • 0.75 oz lemon juice
    • 5 oz honey
  • Shake with ice
  • Fine strain over ice in rocks glass
  • Float 0.25 oz - 0.5 oz (depending on your love of smoke) Ardbeg 10 Single Malt Scotch on the top of the drink
  • Garnish with a lemon zest

There are two major factors which tie all these drinks together; simplicity and balance. An important step in learning how to create great tasting cocktails is understanding the relationship between flavors, and starting out with a simple set of ingredients is the best way to become aware of how to properly balance a cocktail.

Once you’ve mastered balance with a minimal list of components, it is much easier to move beyond and experiment with new flavors, unique ingredients, and seemingly opposing flavor profiles. 

Our curated cocktail box can help take you to that next level, by offering hard to find ingredients, fun, tasty syrup and bitters flavors and a variety of fresh fruit and herbal ingredients.  

We also include easy to follow, step-by-step ingredients and tutorial videos, and plenty of other education literature to help you along your way. However, it is inevitably your own comprehension of balance within cocktails that will make the difference between a good and a great cocktail, and the only way to increase your understanding, is to get out there and start making drinks.

Have fun out there!

Duncan Peck

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