3 Tips For Making Great Craft Whiskey Cocktails
Craft whiskey cocktails with our American single malt? Wait what? No! Our whiskey is so great neat – why would you ever want to add anything else?
This is how we used to feel about adding anything but a drop of high quality water to our whiskey. Yes, there’s no doubt that we created Wanderback whiskey for sipping but given (1) it’s the holiday season (and who doesn’t love a great craft whiskey cocktail at Christmas) and (2) our mission is to constantly learn and discover new things, we decided to investigate the true craft of craft cocktail making.
During a recent Wanderback Live virtual fireside chat, Wanderback Founder, Phil and whiskey ambassador, Sam mixed two classic whiskey cocktails: a Manhattan with Batch No. 3 and an Old Fashioned with Batch No. 4. During this time, we discovered 3 tips that up your game from making a good craft whisky cocktail and a GREAT one.
- Less is more
When you use a really good american single malt in your craft whiskey cocktail, your additional ingredients should complement and enhance flavors, not overpower them. We discovered that many whiskey cocktail recipes call for too much sweet vermouth in a Manhattan. This masks the subtler whiskeys flavors especially in a complex single malt like Batch No. 3. Try adding only 1/2 oz (or even slightly less) of vermouth to 2oz of whiskey to get the perfect amount of sweetness whilst still appreciating a whiskey forward cocktail.
- Order and Muddling Matters
We now appreciate that the order you add your cocktail ingredients matters. The correct order depends on the proof of the whiskey you’re using. If it is a very high proof spirit (like our Founder’s Reserve and/or other barrel proof whiskeys), pour it over ice to jump start dilution of the cocktail solution at the beginning. If it is a lower proof, muddle all ingredients to release oils and aromatics before adding the ice.
- Stirred Not Shaken
Turns out Bond had it all wrong. Stir your craft whiskey cocktail, never shake! Why? Stirring dilutes the cocktail less, while shaking breaks up the ice and generally dilutes more. If you use a clear glass you can visually gauge the amount of dilution for the perfect cocktail. Add ice above the highest level of liquid in the clear glass and stir around the edges with a bar spoon. You can measure dilution by seeing the liquid level rise relative to the ice. Usually 30 seconds to a minute is about right.
Watch the full video of Sam and Phil mixing up and chatting about cocktails here:
Craft Whiskey Cocktail Recipes
Batch No. 3 Manhattan: We chose to use Batch No. 3 for the manhattan because the dry, resinous fruit notes lends itself well to sweet vermouth. The similar flavors do not take over the whiskey; rather they marry together to make a delicious cocktail.
Start with the 2 oz of Batch No. 3, add 1/2 oz of Carpano Antica and 3-5 shakes of Angostura Bitters. Add a fair amount of ice so it is above the level of the spirits and give it a 30 second stir . Strain into a glass and finish with an Amarena cherry.
Batch No. 4 Old Fashioned: We made an old fashioned with Batch No. 4 because it hits the high points about everything we love about Scotch whiskey and American bourbon and is the perfect spirit for this classic cocktail.
Start with one fresh orange peel, just a few dashes (2-4) of Black Walnut Bitters, and one bar spoon of maple syrup. Use a muddler to concoct these ingredients together for a few seconds. Add 2 oz of Batch No. 4, a large ice cube and give it a 30 second stir. Finally, express a second orange peel by squeezing it on top of the cocktail and rub the peel round the glass rim. Garnish with an Amarena cherry and the orange peel.