Whiskey has a reputation for inspiring serious, sometimes forlorn contemplation. Think of Don Draper mulling over the melodrama of Madison Avenue with a glass of the brown stuff, or Nick Offerman slowly filtering Lagavulin through his broom of a mustache as he stares off into the middle distance with purpose. But all work and no play makes whiskey a dull spirit. These sweet cocktails show just how lighthearted and sippable it can be.
The classic Mint Julep has a distinct dry sweetness, but for true dessert in a tin cup, go for broke with this milkshake variation. Mint chocolate chip ice cream makes a creamy base with more overt sugary goodness than just mint and simple syrup, and it rounds the whiskey with cool menthol. Garnish with chocolate shavings and a mint sprig to really wake your palate up to the minty flavors.
The smell of fresh pie lifts cartoon characters into the air, but it's this cherry pie-inspired cocktail that makes us feel like we're floating. Amaretto recreates the nutty caramelized sweetness of pie crust, Cherry Heering provides the fruit, and bourbon anchors the whole experience, keeping us from floating off into the sky completely.
It doesn’t take much besides bourbon and a bit of sweet jam to make a totally delectable cocktail. Fig jam emphasizes the honeyed sweetness and the rich butterscotch notes of the spirit, while orange and Angostura bitters highlight the citrus and spice notes. Stirred and served over a big rock of ice, this drink is like the missing link between straight bourbon and complex whiskey cocktails.
Warm, buttery apple cider and caramelly bourbon are a clear match. This warm sipper goes down even easier than a cold glass of whiskey on the rocks, and with the slow cooker doing all the work, it’s just about as easy to make. Baking spices steeped in the pot keep the drink from getting too cloying and punctuate the warm waves of boozy joy.
Whiskey cocktails usually rely on bourbon for their deep caramelized sweetness, but this super creamy RumChata cocktail doesn’t need any more sweetness. What it does need is a base of potent scotch and a mist of smoky Laphroaig over top, giving the RumChata some edge and heat. This unconventional cocktail is warm and comforting in all the right ways.
Simply spiking hot cocoa with bourbon is a good move, but this layered take on boozy is the pro version of that. Bourbon adds its characteristic vanilla and caramel to the warm chocolate, rich coconut milk provides a dry yet fatty mouthfeel, and fernet gives nuance with a twinge of bitter bite like the best dark chocolates. If that sounds too adult for you, a thick blanket of bruléed Marshmallow Fluff lies on top.
This silky, full-bodied rye-based drink takes advantage of the spirit’s baking spice notes to blend it (literally) with the nostalgic flavors of old fashioned pumpkin pie. Throw a slice of the Thanksgiving classic into a blender with rye to create the cocktail’s base, then add espresso liqueur and citrus to stave off a full-on dessert coma.