After a busy day, a good drink can bring you back down to earth and slow everything around you so that you can enjoy the present moment.
There’s nothing like a well-made whiskey drink to take the edge off a long day or get ready for a good night out.
This is especially true if you want to switch it up before your next round of shots or if you’re new to whiskey and want to start with something relatively simple but still a treat.
Here are some of the best whiskey drinks to order at a bar that will let you enjoy your whiskey in style but won’t wake you up with a splitting headache in the morning.
What Exactly Is Whiskey?
According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, more than 28 million nine-liter cases of American whiskey were sold in 2020. With so much attention on this amber spirit, you might wonder what exactly whiskey is.
Whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and corn (maize).
Whiskey is typically aged in wooden casks. The aging process makes whiskey smoother and is required for certain types like Scotch – but it also makes it more expensive as older whiskies cost much more than younger ones.
Whiskies aged for a short time have yet to develop the full bouquet and flavor characteristics associated with longer-aged whiskies.
Types of Whiskey
When you go to a bar, there are usually three types of whiskey that will often be available. You might not know why or what the differences are, but you’ll probably order one just because it looks cool to say, “yes, I’ll have a top-shelf whiskey”.
It can be confusing, so here is a quick rundown of the different types to ensure you order the best whiskey drinks at the bar.
The most common types of whiskey are Bourbon, Irish Whiskey, and Scotch.
Bourbon, a type of American whiskey with a distinctively sweet flavor, was first created in the early 18th century.
It is defined by the fact that it must be made from at least 51% corn and aged in new charred oak barrels. It can be produced anywhere in the United States, but most come from Kentucky and Tennessee today.
Bourbon also comes in different ages that denote how long it was in a barrel before being bottled. The longer it sits, the smoother and richer its flavor will be, but many people find that younger bourbons are still enjoyable without being watered down.
If you’re looking for an excellent Bourbon brand, try Makers Mark. Being world-renowned for its sweet and smokey taste, Makers Mark is a premium bourbon whiskey. It’s made with a unique process that involves a traditional recipe, plenty of patience, and limestone-filtered water.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more world-renowned product, you could try Jack Daniels. However, It is a common misconception that Jack Daniels is a bourbon whiskey.
This confusion is understandable, as it is called Tennessee whiskey, and the state of Tennessee produces more bourbon than any other place in the world.
Ultimately, Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee whiskey with a distinctive flavor many people have come to love. Jack Daniels is certainly not a bad choice if you’re looking for a nice whiskey to enjoy on the rocks or with a bit of cola.
It has a nice, easy flavor that makes it suitable to pair with various drinks and food.
Irish whiskey is a type of whiskey made in Ireland. There are several Irish whiskey styles; blended, single pot, single grain, and single malt.
In most cases, Irish whiskey is made from a mix of malted and unmalted barley, with a small amount of wheat or oats added for flavor. Most brands use triple distillation instead of single or double to get more flavor from each grain.
Irish whiskey must be aged for at least three years in wooden casks, but some are aged for a few more years to achieve the desired color and flavor. The aging process gives Irish whiskey its amber color and hints of fruit (like apples or pears) or spicy notes (like nutmeg).
Arguably the most well-known Irish whiskey would be Jameson. Jameson Irish Whiskey is a top-shelf, crown-jewel brand of Irish whiskey. It’s not the cheapest stuff on the market, but this premium selection has plenty of fans who consider it well worth the price for its smoothness, depth, and richness.
Jameson is a popular choice among drinkers who enjoy smoothness and balance when they sip on their whiskey neat or on the rocks.
Scotch whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage made in Scotland for hundreds of years. It is produced almost entirely from malted barley with the addition of yeast.
Scotch can vary quite a bit depending on the source of its ingredients and the processes used to make it and is divided into five distinct categories:
- Single malt
- Single grain
- Blended malt
- Blended grain
- Blended Scotch.
The malted barley makes the scotch taste sweeter than other whiskey varieties. Some Scotches are aged in sherry casks, which gives them a nutty flavor and golden color, while others are aged in barrels previously used to age bourbon or wine.
Although this gives them different tastes and colors, it also means that each batch of scotch won’t necessarily come out the same.
Johnnie Walker is known for its square bottles and iconic label with a striding man who looks like he’s always ready to head off on an adventure.
The brand offers varieties of scotch whiskey, including Blue Label, Black Label, Gold Label Reserve, and Platinum Label, as well as blended whiskies like Red Label and Green Label featuring flavors from other types of barley or rye.
One of the things I love about scotch is its versatility. You can drink it on the rocks, neat, with water, a mixer, or even a cocktail. Plus, very few things are more enjoyable than sipping on a nice scotch while enjoying a cigar.
If you’re looking for a great scotch to enjoy any way you choose to have it, Johnnie Walker is one of the best brands out there.
How To Drink Your Whiskey
With the myriad of different kinds of whiskey drinks today, it’s hard to know where to begin. Now that you better understand how whiskey is made and the different types of whiskeys available, it’ll be easier to choose which taste you prefer when ordering at the bar.
Whiskey is a drink of the people and has a history of being made and enjoyed by the common man. It’s no wonder that there are many conflicting traditions about how to drink it.
While there is no one “right” or “wrong” way to enjoy a drink, some ways are better than others.
The Traditional Way
The traditional way to drink whiskey is neat, but it’s also great on the rocks. It’s essential to know the difference. The most important thing is to find the whiskey you like and determine if it’s a good idea to drink it the traditional way.
When you drink whiskey neat, it means you’re drinking it straight up, undiluted with water or ice. People drink whiskey neat because it’s the purest form of the spirit. If you dilute it with water or ice, you add flavor to the one already there, which can sometimes be overwhelming.
Many whiskeys are aged in oak barrels and thus have an inherent sweetness. When you add ice, you’re diluting that slightly sweet flavor and bringing out some of the more bitter flavors that are usually masked by the sweetness.
If you want to drink your whiskey on the rocks and like your whiskey sharp and crisp, with no sweetness or vanilla notes, drinking it over ice can accentuate those flavors even more and make for a great experience.
Whiskey cocktails are an excellent option for novice whiskey enthusiasts. Comfortingly potent, they fill the space between your favorite beer and an exorbitantly strong martini.
Whiskey is a universal spirit that goes well in cocktails made with various types of blends. Below you’ll find three types of cocktails for three kinds of whiskies.
The Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail is an excellent cocktail for any whiskey-lover. It is easy to make, and it tastes great. This classic cocktail is super simple, using just one primary ingredient: whiskey.
It’s made with bitters, sugar, water, and Bourbon whiskey – so think about asking your bartender to use Makers Mark when ordering this surprisingly fruity drink. You can also check out our other suggestions for the best whiskey for an Old Fashioned.
These four components have created what is often regarded as the holy grail of traditional cocktails.
A Rusty Nail is a cocktail with one shot of the finest Scotch whiskey, one shot of Drambuie, and a sprinkle of water. It is stirred until it becomes an opaque brown color.
This cocktail is served cold and can be consumed in any season. It’s easy to mix and a pleasant treat for all whiskey lovers who want to enjoy one of the best whiskey beverages at the bar.
Rusty Nail enthusiasts will claim that this drink tastes like heaven in a glass, but we won’t pretend it’s for everyone. You probably won’t like this drink if you’re not a big fan of Scotch.
The ingredients of an Irish coffee are generally the same: hot coffee, dissolved sugar, and Irish whiskey (usually Jameson). The sugar is sweet, and the whiskey is strong, but the cream ties them into one delightfully smooth concoction.
That said, there are tons of variations on this recipe, with some people adding more whiskey or more sugar or even sometimes changing up the type of coffee they use.
Ultimately, Irish coffee is one of the best whiskey drinks you can have at a bar – particularly on those cold winter days or when you’re finishing up and having your last drink before heading home.
Best Whiskey Drinks To Order At A Bar – Summary
Whiskey is a drink for gentlemen, but like any alcoholic beverage, it can be enjoyed responsibly by everyone else. Knowing how to use this drink will make your experience with it much more enjoyable than just knocking it back as fast as possible.
Ultimately the best whiskey drinks to order at a bar would come down to personal preference. Still, hopefully, these whiskey drinks will make it a little easier for you to navigate the selection of whiskey at your local watering hole.
And remember, always drink responsibly.