The first kind of cocktails? Whisky cocktails, of course! Whisky cocktails are amongst the first to have been created, beginning with the Old Fashioned of which can be traced back to the early 1800s. Making its mark early on, the Old Fashioned was so influential that it generated a Gin spin off in the 1860s and a Bourbon version in the 1880s! It is safe to say that Whisky cocktails have had a massive influence on bartending and cocktail creation over the years, with many famous cocktails originally being made with a dram.
Many Whisky Cocktails came to be in New York bars and clubs. Cocktails in general are traditionally thought of as American, but a little known fact is that they were inspired by British punch bowls! The term ‘cocktail’ itself was actually first recorded by a British newspaper in 1978. We do have to credit the New York paper, The Balance and Columbian Repository with the definition of a cocktail: “A stimulating liquor composed of any kind of sugar, water and bitters’. But, where did the term actually come from? There are many folk stories surrounding the origins of the word ‘cocktail’. Many would argue that it is derived from the French word ‘coquetel’ which was an egg cup used for serving drinks. Another popular theory is that of a drink being decorated by a literal cock’s tail and served in celebration to soldiers of the revolution by Betsy Flanagan, an innkeeper from the 1700s. There is even an argument for the word referencing drinks in Mexico being stirred with a ‘cola de gallo’ which translates to cock’s tail. Whatever the origin of the word, cocktails are a huge part of global culture and Whisky cocktails are as special as it gets (at least we think so!) Although an Old Fashioned is the oldest, and arguably most well-known Whisky cocktail, don’t worry if it’s not for you! There are plenty of other options that are sure to tickle your taste buds.
Whilst a Bloody Mary has been a much loved ‘hair of the dog’ since the early 1920s, we’ve become partial to a Bloody Joseph or two with our brunch. This alternative swaps out the usual vodka for a dram of a good Blended Malt! We would recommend our marvellous Maritime Malt Rock Island. It is a delightfully complex Scotch bursting with flavours of sea-spray, sweet peat, damp ash and honey. Its undeniable moreish quality makes it the ideal Brunch cocktail. Of course, the best part of any cocktail is the garnish (other than the Whisky!) Our friend at The Glass Class is an expert in all things garnish and created a completely delicious version of a Bloody Joseph using Rock Island.
Have a party coming up? Be everyone’s favourite bartender with a Whisky Sour. Normally, we would recommend Big Peat for a cocktail such as this but Stefano at The Glass Class recently put a twist on the classic beverage by using Rock Island instead. A Rock Island Sour is a perfect summer drink and Rock Island’s salty notes are so refreshing they make a perfect pairing! Stefan used a mix of fresh watermelon juice and lemon juice to ramp up the flavour profile. We’re surprised we didn’t think of this sooner!
Definitely one of the oldest and most famous Whisky cocktails around, this drink will give you major Sex and the City vibes. The history of The Manhattan is a little unclear but the popular story is that it was created in the late 1880s at the Manhattan Club in New York for Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill. Geert from Double Strainger put his own spin on a Manhattan and created ‘A Stray Dog in the Big Apple.’ It will come as no surprise that Scallywag is the chosen dram here. Its spicy fruit and strong chocolate notes are a divine base for an iconic drink such as this.
As we always say here at Douglas Laing & Co, Whisky should be enjoyed in whatever way you want to enjoy it. Whether that be neat, over ice, with or without water or in a cocktail – it’s up to you. If you haven’t yet tried a Whisky Cocktail then we would encourage you to do so – you won’t regret it! If you still aren’t convinced, take a look at our World Cocktail Day highlight on Instagram - it will have you reaching for a glass in no time!
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