20 Best Drinks To Mix With Whiskey, Ranked

Whiskey has a culture that spans the globe, and its characterization rests on the spirit's hallowed complexity. Unfortunately, some people hold whiskey so sacrosanct that they can't enjoy it mixed with anything but water — either because they don't want to adulterate good whiskey or they think themselves above other beverages. In both cases, they're missing out. As we'll see, whiskey is a powerfully versatile alcohol that mixes well with juices, sodas, tea or coffee, and even ... well, wait and see, because there are some surprising entries in this list. 

To keep things simple, we're only recommending single-ingredient combos to ensure you have all you need on hand — although some of those mixers can be remarkably complex and/or nuanced. Most are already sweet, but feel free to add a little sugar and spice as suit your tastes. Now let's make some easy whiskey cocktails.

20. Beet juice

Pretty to look at, delicious if it's your thing, but far from everyone's cup of whiskey, beet juice is nevertheless an excellent mixer for the spirit. You can buy it at the store or make it yourself if you're not so sure you want to commit to a whole bottle, but either way, if you've never had beet juice before, get ready for earthy yet flavors. Modern Wifestyle's clean, concise guide gussies the combo up into craft cocktail territory, but also gives you the basics for extracting beet juice without a juicer. Meanwhile the Jeptha Creed bourbon version is more straightforward, adding a little sweetener and pureed ginger for a spicy kick. But you don't need garnish and flavorings so long as you take up their advice to mix the juice and whiskey in equal parts. 

If you're looking to simply enjoy beet juice mixed with whiskey, we recommend you do some satisfying home experimentation until you find your perfect balance.

19. Club soda / Seltzer

If you're wondering about the difference between club soda and seltzer, AllRecipes reports there really isn't much of one. Both are simply carbonated water, and usually have no sugar, no calories, and no real flavor, just the tingly texture of bubbles. The taste between the two does differ slightly, as club soda typically has minerals added to it, like potassium bicarbonate. (Atlas Obscura says the term seltzer derives from the naturally bubbly spring water in the town of Selters, so you'd be forgiven for thinking seltzer was the one drink with added minerals — but nope, that would be club soda.)

But whichever pour you prefer, either can be used for a classic highball. While the term has expanded in recent years to mean nearly any liquor plus fizzy drink, the original usage called for nothing more complicated than whiskey and chilled carbonated water, according to The Backlabel. Simply combine the two over ice (if you'd like) and enjoy! 

The Blacklabel advises against the flattening effects of stirring or shaking the simple drink — kick back and let the bubbles do the mixing for you.

18. Tonic

Not far afield of club soda and seltzer lies tonic, which looks identical but which contains quinine, which gives the drink a distinct bitter flavor. (Quinine also makes tonic glow blue under ultraviolet light, explains Scientific American, if you're looking for a cheap party decoration.) 

While you may be most familiar with the gin and tonic, the bubbly drink goes just as well with whiskey. (Some might even say better, as the nuances of terpenes in barrel-aged whiskey provide a pleasing complexity.) Occasional Cocktails runs down all the different aspects of various whiskey types — from rye to bourbon to Scotch — that tonic brings out, while The Spruce Eats recommends Irish whisky for the perfect pairing. 

One note: though sugar-free options exist, most tonic water comes standard with a hefty dose of sugar to sweeten quinine's astringency (via Verywell Fit). Don't trick yourself into thinking you're skipping the calories of a glass of soda just because it tastes more medicinal.

17. Milk

Before you flip the table, hear us out: have you ever had a glass of homemade eggnog? Amazing stuff, but you don't need to undertake the arduous task of separating yolks and stirring at length to enjoy a similar flavor when you can just add whiskey and milk.

While whiskey and Guinness might be Ireland's two most famous beverages, the Emerald Isle is also known for its dairy (you're presumably familiar with the Kerrygold brand), so the union of whiskey and milk was inevitable. Scáiltín is a variation on milk punch that's as easy as simmering the two, per Whisky Advocate. The recipe is so easy, if you can boil water, you're overqualified (which is good news, because milk is surprisingly difficult to boil).

But what if you're extra lazy and can't even be bothered to turn on your burner? Milk punch is as simple as shake, strain, and served cold. Cocktail Society says the Scots were drinking milk punch as far back as 1688, with the first recipe for the mix published in 1711. While you can drink the two mixed together without anything else, you may find the flavor to be lacking. We suggest playing with some additional ingredients to see which spices and what level of sweetness you prefer, perhaps starting with a splash of vanilla and a little nutmeg. 

16. Coconut water

While some have experimented with coconut milk for a vegan milk punch, mixing whiskey with coconut water delivers all the lovely, rich coconut taste you're craving without the heaviness of fatty coconut milk. 

Punch says you'll want to use Scotch for this one, but states outright that anything goes after that. That gives you a lot to work with, as Scotches tend to vary in taste by region (via Scotch Whisky Association). Once you've selected your Scotch, you're free to experiment any which way you like — you've already achieved all the delicious requirements. 

According to Punch, the Scotch and coconut is as prevalent in Puerto Rico as the piña colada. If it isn't pulling the same levels of fame among visitors (yet), perhaps Rupert Holmes can write a song about it for people having affairs to jam to. With any luck, we'll see this become the new cocktail of summer

15. Pineapple juice

Just as fresh pineapple takes well to the grill, its juice loves some smoke. Mix a peaty Islay Scotch with pineapple juice, and marvel at how many competing sensations you can taste from just two simple ingredients. The pineapple juice is sweet, acidic, and even catalytic, thanks to its bromelain enzyme, with breaks down tissue and is why the fruit can make your tongue tingle (via Science Meets Food). At the same time, Islay whisky is smoky with peat and salty from the coast. As stated above, different Scotches will have different flavors, so be sure to taste a few or ask your liquor store for a recommendation that suits your palate.

If you want to add guss and garnish, Real Housemoms adds the usual suspects (lemon, cherry, simple syrup) to the pineapple and whiskey combo, but honestly, what more do you need? Those two beverages together have already taken you around the world ... or at least from Hawaii to Scotland.

14. Cranberry juice

For those who like most of what pineapple provides to their whiskey cocktail but can't bother with all the sugar and sweetness, there's cranberry juice. The famously healthy drink offers up a serving of mouth-puckering tartness on its own, so imagine its potency after it partners up with whiskey. (Be sure to pay attention to the label on your bottle, as Healthline shares some cranberry juice cocktails are more sugar than they are fruit.)

The flavor of cranberry juice is great, but that doesn't diminish the number of involuntary grimaces that come when such sharp flavors tag-team, so you'll want to make sure you're mixing and tasting as you go — and that you're a fan of tart flavors and the burn of whiskey. This duo is not for the faint of heart or anyone on the fence about the brown spirit. Dishes Delish recommends choosing a higher quality whiskey, preferably a bourbon (like Knob Creek, for example). You can add simple syrup if you like, but go easy. You came to cranberry juice because you had a craving no other beverage is tart enough to fulfill. Revel in it.

13. Grapefruit juice

And then there are those for whom cranberry juice isn't enough. We can't lie to you, this mix is intense, but it truly rewards the bold. Grapefruit's tartness is matched only by its bitterness, and whiskey is neither of those, so we have a battle between two strong flavors that find compatibility after a fierce duel.

Occasional Cocktails dives into the concoction's history via The Brown Derby cocktail and its namesake, L.A.'s legendary Brown Derby restaurant. But as the outlet observes, you don't need to get fancy when the simple two ingredient combo will do just fine. Add one part whiskey to two parts grapefruit juice, and look: you're already drinking it.

If the mix proves a little too much, feel free to stir in some honey or simple syrup — just taste as you go and be careful not to overdo it. Did you ever think you'd enjoy grapefruit juice before today? Or that it would help you enjoy whiskey even more than you already do?

12. Pickle brine

What sounded like a bad dare at a dive bar 10 years ago, the pickleback has come into its own as a respected duo. And while it may remain divisive as far as who enjoys it, there's no denying that mixing pickle brine with whiskey has moved from the eclectic to the mainstream.

At the same time, more and more folks are skipping the classic arrangement of chasing the whiskey with brine and just mixing the two. And why shouldn't they? Pickle brine contains salt, sugar, spices, and vinegar — all things you might find in more traditional whiskey cocktails. Love to Know Cocktails sees the pickleback as a great base for craft drinks using lime juice, apple, maple, and even plum, but there's also no reason to overcomplicate it. Equal parts pickle juice and whiskey is all you need. Simply save the juice from your favorite jar or plan ahead by making refrigerator pickles, which will be ready to use in anywhere from one to two days.

If the taste excites you but the ABV doesn't, don't forget you can also pull off the reverse and improve your pickles by giving them a bit of a whiskey kick ... or to replace any pickle juice you might have used for shots the night before. Simply refill a half-empty pickle jar with whiskey to amp up the flavor (via Thrillist).

11. Drinking vinegar

We've had some fun watching the pH in our glass plummet till now, but are you ready to take it to its extreme with vinegar?

No, we're not kidding. The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) explains that drinking vinegars, or shrubs, are one of the oldest beverages around. The Babylonians did it, and they invented all kinds of useful stuff we still rely on today (via Live Science). And once you taste how sweet and fruity these vinegar concoctions are, you'll realize they're pretty much the same as the juice already in your glass but with loads of health benefits — the perfect candidate for some adult beverage adulteration. The ICE recommends an even mixture with whiskey, and maybe adding some fruits for garnish and sweetening. Now you're ready to party like an ancient Roman!

Switchel is basically the gingery, colonial New England version of a shrub, and Forbes reports it's been making a comeback. So while it's fun to DIY a shrub using your favorite flavors, you may be able to pick up a bottle made by the pros at your local grocery store if you're feeling less motivated.

10. Cola

If you're a whiskey drinker, you've likely had (or at least heard of) the bar standard Jack & Coke. As explained by The Whiskypedia, the mixture of the two makes a smooth blend of sweet and sour without compromising either, with the soda helping to highlight whiskey's oaky flavors. While Whiskypedia believes Jack Daniels whiskey truly is the perfect Cola partner, Bourbon & Banter disagrees, observing that — though different bourbons will change the drink's flavor profile slightly — in general any bourbon will give you an enjoyable combo. 

The happy resolution to those two claims may just be switching up the cola for variety rather than your whiskey (or both if you're feeling creative). Uproxx's cola ranking will give you a good guide, but specifically recommends Boylan as the top choice due to its complexity. The outlet even mentions how great the brand's cola is for a whiskey coke. You may also want to try a few colas side by side (Beverages Direct sell a sampler pack, if you're not interested in crafting your own at the corner store) to experiment with to perfect your personal pairing. 

And if after all that you still prefer a Coke-tail to a cocktail, you don't have to rely on just your standard black label Jack Daniels. Ryes, so noted for their peppery intensity, can often be hard going solo, but NC Whiskey points out that they bring a robust spice to match the intensity of Coca-Cola.

9. Apple cider

Nothing says autumn like ... well, pumpkins. But you have to admit apples are an extremely close second. And sorry, pumpkins, but nobody at a party ever poured a shot of whiskey into a piping hot mug of pumpkin cider.

Creative Culinary praises bourbon in this seasonal classic, thanks to its many flavors that resemble the ingredients in an apple pie. If you have a Tennessee whiskey on hand (or really any sweeter whiskey) you're likely to find notes of clove, caramel, nutmeg, or other spices. Pairing heavenly with the tartness of the cider, you're never far away from a perfect fall cocktail with these two ingredients on hand.

You can relax knowing this is a time-tested and much-loved combination, far less risky to serve than the pickleback. While there are whiskeys out there already mixed with apple liqueur, half the joy of autumn is the getting the fresh-pressed stuff. The warmth from your hot spiked cider isn't just to keep you from shivering, either. Fine Cooking explains that reduction is a lot more complex than you might think, intensifying flavors and making your cider more sumptuous. ... Although yes, a hot cider spiked with whiskey is a simply perfect way to warm up on the first frosty day.

8. Mountain Dew

Once a euphemism for moonshine, per Smithsonian, Mountain Dew was actually created as to be a mixer for whiskey. The story goes that Barney and Ally Hartman were dissatisfied with the soda options available in Tennessee to mix with their whiskey, favoring a local soda from their native Georgia (via Thrillist). Since there was no internet to order from, they invented their own citrusy soda and tailored it to the taste of Tennessee whiskey.

While the original recipe may not still be the one used to brew up the soda, we think the combo is still something the Hartmans would approve of. Liquor.com reported on the trend of mixing it up with Wild Turkey whiskey specifically, but any bourbon should work just fine. Maybe opt for something a little closer to the bottom shelf, as this flavorful soda will cover up some of the more unpleasant notes of cheap whiskey. Some whiskey Mountain Dew recipes also call for the addition of (or to rim your glass with) Tang powder, which will really up the faux citrus flavor, but it's totally optional.

7. Drambuie / Irish Mist

What mixes with whisky better than a whisky-adjacent spirit? Drambuie is a liqueur primarily concocted of Scotch and honey, but add in the regular Scotch of your choosing in the 2:1 ratio recommended by The Spruce Eats, and you've got yourself a Rusty Nail. A true classic that's as satisfying as it is simple — and yet somehow elegant. This is especially true if you use a higher-end Scotch. After all, these two tastes are so similar, the Drambuie is there to add a little seasoning and sweetness ... best to choose a Scotch that will provide a quality base for your cocktail.

If you'd like a smoother swallow than the often peaty or malty sip that Scotches serve up, simply swap your Drambuie for the very similar Irish Mist, while subbing a pour of Irish whisky. Voila: you've made a Black Nail, the Irish version of this genteel drink. Social + Cocktail recommends pouring liquor and liqueur in equal parts, but it's really a question of preference. 

6. Vermouth

Some people dream their entire lives of seeing Manhattan, but there's one Manhattan experience you can savor just about anywhere: the cocktail. The Manhattan perhaps stands as the second-best use of a martini glass out there (number one being, obviously, the martini).

In preparing this classic drink, personal taste is a huge factor in the subjectively perfect proportions — so why not start in the middle and see where your preferences lie? Add rye and vermouth in equal amounts, per Cocktails With Suderman, and then adjust to your taste in either direction. Now whether you want to take this bitters situation from zero to outlandish is up to you, but be mindful that if you indulge by adding cherries to this beverage, it begins to wander out of Manhattan territory and into the realm of Brooklyn. (Which is often how many good nights out begin or end.)

Spoiled NYC shares a cocktail for every borough, naming the Brooklyn as essentially a Manhattan with maraschino liqueur. The drink also swaps the sweet vermouth for dry, so if that happens to be what is gracing your liquor cabinet you might as well head for the bridge. When it really comes down to it, we think the important thing is the perfect pairing of the two liquids — how many cherries fall into your glass after that is between you and Brooklyn.

5. Coffee

After this many whiskey cocktails, who couldn't use a coffee? While you probably wouldn't want to start your day with one of these, a bracing Irish coffee can be a delightful brunch order, or a fine digestif after a sizable lunch or dinner.

And here's the kicker: MyRecipes did some digging and found that not only is the Irish coffee recipe very Irish indeed, though not nearly as old as you might think. While milk punch probably long preceded its chronicled debut, the spike of whisky in a coffee is believed to have been formulated in 1943 by chef Joe Sheridan as a treat for some haggard travelers whose flying boat (essentially an airplane that lands on water instead of land) had to return to Ireland instead of completing the flight to the United States.

While looking at the ingredients, you might think of this drink as simply, "Make coffee to your taste, add whiskey," (and you would be smart to do so when making it at home) the official version actually has a lot of work put into it for visual appeal with layered ingredients. Feel free to let your first drink — like this Irish coffee from The Dead Rabbit — reinvigorate you to put the extra effort into your second one.

4. Lemonade

There's no better drink to relax with as afternoon turns to evening and the heat of summer cools down than a whiskey-spiked lemonade. After all, who wants to exert themselves with heady mixtures or overly sweet concoctions? Keep it simple with one part whiskey to three parts lemonade. Sugar and Charm recommends pink lemonade for more visual appeal, or muddling in some fruits or herbs — or both — for infused flavors. This combo is perfect for a deeply satisfying, cool drink to celebrate a hard day of work ... or a hard day or relaxing, if you're lucky.

Now don't think you need a full pitcher of lemonade, either. Lemon juice by itself is a fine combination with whiskey, and (along with a little simple syrup) all you need to make a whiskey sour, according to The Spruce Eats. Don't let anyone gatekeep you into whipping up some egg whites or sour mix; juice a lemon, and you're golden.

3. Tea

Hot toddies may have been made for time out of mind, but Make Me a Cocktail and The Barsys say the drink hit its stride, if not its debut, during the 18th century. And though they disagree on its country of origin, the important takeaway is hot toddies are as comforting on a cold day as they are a day with a cold. (Whether they work or not, who can say, but the placebo effect sure is nice.) While the classic hot toddy recipe is made in the style of a tea, not with the hot beverage, whiskey does pairs brilliantly with most teas.

Thrillist has a neat suggestion that works well combining Japanese whisky with three very different green teas — and yes, it is as easy as stirring green tea into a bottle of the spirit and letting it infuse. The outlet recommends making a highball with the infused spirit, which feels like two duos for the effort of one.

If you're not unwilling to wait for an infusion, Whiskey Reviewer has pairing guide for a few different tea varieties and the whiskies that work best with them. It can be as simple as a shot of Irish whiskey poured into a glass of Lipton or as complex as a gunpowder green mixed with your favorite Scotch. As you discover your own matches (or matchas), you'll get all the health benefits of drinking tea mixed with a spirit whose name literally means "water of life" (via Etymonline).

2. Root beer

Forget pickle brine; root beer will likely be the most divisive placing on our list, since cola landed right in the middle. But hear us out: everyone who protests the superiority of whiskey in root beer probably just doesn't like root beer.

If you appreciate all sodas, you'll see that root beer, more than darn near anything, is receptive to what whiskey puts into a glass. It's loaded with spices that can enhance the tasting notes of many whiskeys (via Difford's Guide). Would companies like Ole Smokey and Rebel Bourbon make root beer whiskeys if it weren't a solid pairing? There's even a name for the Jack Daniels and root beer pairing: The Lynchburg Beer, which Mix That Drink asserts can even convert Jack & Coke lovers.

Like whiskey, root beer is rife with flavors that are hard to pin down, so for this reason, you'll have to do a little personal experimentation to find which spirit and soda brands mix well. Some may obscure each other's fine notes, while others clash, but when you find your perfect pairing, you have an easy, fizzy duo to savor for all time. And savor you will, as this much complexity favors sipping at length.

1. Ginger ale

If root beer is superior with whiskey, ginger ale is supreme. The soda is simple and refreshing where root beer is complex and rich, making it is the versatile victor in almost any spirit pairing, but especially with whiskey. (In fact, it makes one wonder why the market isn't flooded with ginger-infused whiskeys today.) A dive bar staple for a reason, we can't think of a harder to mess up drink than a classic whiskey ginger.

A single-ingredient aromatic, ginger ale shoots broad and peppy no matter what whiskey you pair it with. But that doesn't mean some brands don't make better sport of it than others. The Whisky Guide lists the best ginger ales for whiskey, and then flips it with the best whiskeys for ginger ale, but ultimately it depends on your palate. While some ginger ales will be bolder and more spiced, others are slightly sweet; the same of course goes for whiskies, so you'll have to try a few out to come to your favorite mix. Working your way through the permutations will take more than one night, so you're better off buying soda by the can, rather than the bottle. Nothing is sadder than pouring a flat whiskey ginger ale, except having no whiskey ginger ale at all.