The Best Whiskey To Mix With Ginger Ale For A Classic, Refreshing Drink

Not to be confused with ginger beer, ginger ale is a classic pairing for a whiskey mixed drink. Good ginger ale is sweeter and more subdued compared to ginger beer, though it does still have that sharp kick of ginger that we love. Mixed drinks are simple – just add the spirit and the mixer together. But with only the two ingredients, it matters what you put inside. Most bars, especially dive bars, will use ginger ale as the drink mixer when you ask for a whiskey ginger but keep in mind that cocktail bars will often make their own ginger mixer in-house, which will have a stronger, spicier flavor profile. Ask your bartender what they use.

Ginger ale's bold flavor can easily compensate for a low-quality whiskey, which is why well whiskey is a popular choice at the bar. But if you're making yourself a drink at home, or looking to treat yourself to something a cut above, you should think about which aspect of the whiskey ginger you like best. If you enjoy the bold spice and sharp bite of the drink and want to emphasize those notes, go for a rye whiskey. If you're not on the party bus to Flavortown and prefer that the ginger zest takes a backseat, you should emphasize the softer notes of the drink with a bourbon. Take this advice from a seasoned bartender who's sampled his fair share of whiskey gingers and helped thousands of bar patrons find their perfect blend.

Digging deeper into the whiskey options

Before talking about specific whiskey bottles, we should start by saying that a low to mid-shelf whiskey is going to be perfectly adequate for a whiskey ginger. It's your money and you can do what you want with it, but if you're spending the cash to purchase a top-shelf whiskey only to dilute it with ginger ale, you're doing yourself a disservice. For those of you who want to maximize the whiskey ginger's complex flavors, rye whiskey is the way — but not just any old rye will do. 

Two rye whiskeys come to mind. High West Double Rye! is a wonderful product coming out of Park City, Utah. It strikes an excellent balance of powerful spice without feeling like you're emptying a pepper grinder onto your tongue. Redemption Rye is a callback to pre-Prohibition times before bourbon became the dominant whiskey format in America. It shines on its own but is restrained enough that it plays very well in mixed drinks, too.

As for you bourbon lovers, we want to find something that doesn't make us feel like we're drinking syrup but that shines in other ways. Four Roses Straight Bourbon is going to give you a complex finish that adds notes of toffee and vanilla for a well-balanced sipper. A step above would be Michter's Bourbon, which is somewhat nutty without sacrificing that vanilla undertone. With either of these, you are stepping away from the sharpness of ginger and rye into something that easily glides down the palate.