Listen, whiskey is cool. That's not opinion; it's straight-up fact. If Don Draper drinks it, you know it's a cool drink. That being said, it's really easy to look like an idiot when you are imbibing that fine, brown liquor. If you're a whisky newbie, you can make some embarrassingly glaring mistakes. Fortunately, we're here for you. There are rules to drinking what was once rightly called "the water of vitality" that you should know if you want to enjoy it to its fullest.
So, if you're gonna be a whiskey drinker, you gotta learn. So you might as well learn from us, right? Because we know things. (Sometimes.)
First thing's first: Find your whiskey. If you are going to be a whiskey drinker, you need to determine what you like and don't like. You can't be indecisive, walking into a bar and just blurting out whatever. Ask yourself the important questions: Do you tend to like it sweet, like an American whiskey? Do you like it a little more earthy, like a Scotch whisky*? How about a light-bodied Irish whiskey? Or maybe you enjoy it a little more fruity, like the Canadian style? Answer those questions and you will find your whiskey.
*Scotch whisky is spelled without the "e," while all other types of whiskey include it. This won't help you enjoy your spirit, but it will make you look smart. You're welcome.
A tumbler is an essential piece of hardware for your whiskey drinking pleasure. It has a nice heft, which makes for a comfortable hold, and a wide opening to help your whiskey get more oxygen which will allow it to breathe better. And if you ever think of drinking any sort of whiskey in a plastic cup, we'll come find you. Solo cups are not for whiskey, folks.
Whiskey is similar to wine in that sniffing before you sip enhances the experience. So get that nose really in there and sniff away. Pretend you're a stockbroker from 1987 who just found a mound of cocaine in the bathroom of a penthouse condo on the Upper East Side. (We said pretend.)
See this photo? This photo is a nightmare. That much ice in a tumbler of whiskey is an insult to whiskey, since it waters it down beyond all recognition. For all that is sacred in this world (yes, whiskey is sacred), don't be this person.
Drinking whiskey neat— any whiskey — is definitely an acquired taste. You're dealing with the purest form of the spirit and using nothing to cut it. So, if you can't handle whiskey neat, there should be no shame in your game. If you can handle it neat, congratulations on your years of due diligence.
Unless you are in the Old West about to get a bullet dug out of your thigh and you need the booze to strengthen your fortitude, there is absolutely no need to gulp your whiskey. You're better than that. More importantly, your whiskey is better than that.
Anyone who tells you that whiskey wasn't made for cocktails is a ridiculous human being that you need to unfriend on social media and IRL. Whiskey was made for cocktails like jeans were made for asses. Below are some of our favorite recipes.
An Old Fashioned is the cocktail embodiment of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). Easy to make, easy to drink, so if you can't get behind an Old Fashioned, then maybe whiskey isn't your thing.(Sorry, not sorry.)
You can never go wrong with a Manhattan. Its smoothness makes it immensely drinkable. Pro-tip: Save that cherry for the end, as it will soak up more booze, thus increasing its tastiness quotient by a factor of 10, because science.
When you want to up your whiskey game, considering upping it with a Sazerac. It's not for the faint of heart, but if you develop a taste for it, it will become your go-to cocktail. In your face, Cosmopolitan!
Really, the most important thing to remember when drinking whiskey is to shut the hell up about it. A true whiskey connoisseur doesn't need to prove it, so just keep it to yourself. Seriously, nothing is worse than listening to a whiskey aficionado.