Whisky mixers tend to get an ambiguous rep. On one hand, you have those who think that they should be reserved for whiskies you don’t end up liking or cheap bottles only. On the other end of the spectrum though, there are also believers who swear by mixers to help alleviate a whisky’s profile.
As a whisky’s flavour can range from woody to fruity, floral all the way to spicy, it goes without saying that mixers are not one-size-fits-all. What seems like a match made in heaven for a sweet bourbon may end up completely wrecking a rich, woody Irish.
If you’re in a headlock over how to tastefully utilise a mixer or simply in need of some whisky cocktail inspo, keep reading for our list of good whisky mixers. From using other liquor to healthy whole foods such as lemon and ginger, here’s a guide to bringing out the best in your whisky with mixers.
Ginger to whisky is like what Robin is to Batman. A powerful sidekick, this duo can take on anything–or most things, at the very least.
Similar to whisky in terms of taste complexity, ginger too, has a depth of flavours. Fiery, sweet, earthy, sharp, and herbaceous–this plant is a crowd favourite when it comes to classic whisky cocktails.
Working with the actual ginger plant may require more work and effort, but fret not, for you can easily use ginger ales, its wildly popular commercialised counterpart.
When paired with Irish whiskey, rye, or bourbon, ginger ales can turn those drams into a light, refreshing, and flavourful drink. There’s a reason why whisky gingers turned out to be such a popular choice for whisky cocktails–it’s just a fun liquor to sip on during convivial events.
If you like the texture and carbonated fizz that ginger ale adds to a dram, but would prefer to taste more of your whisky’s original flavour, club soda is your next best bet.
Ginger ales usually have a sweet flavour that may overpower the notes and aromas of a whisky, while club soda has little to no flavour or taste at all.
This means that club soda makes an ideal pairing with more expensive or exclusive bottles, particularly those that are crafted for their specific flavour profiles. You get to savour your prized drams with a mixer that wouldn’t do much to alter the nuances and intricacies of the spirit.
For the uninitiated, sweet vermouth is an aromatised wine infused and sweetened with a range of herbs and spices. It’s a common spirit in most bars as it’s often used in the making of various types of cocktails.
As its name suggests, sweet vermouth is mostly sweet with notes of vanilla, clove, and orange. There might also be a slight bitter note as a result of having wormwood in its list of ingredients.
There are dozens of cocktails incorporating sweet vermouth. Pairing it with whisky in particular, will result in the Manhattan–a combination of rye and sweet vermouth. Rye is often used in this mixture as its spiciness and peppery notes complement the vermouth’s sweetness best.
Like sweet vermouth, apple cider is regularly used as a mixer for a myriad of liquors and spirits, as the zest of the fruity drink tends to go well with almost any alcoholic base.
When it comes to whisky, there’s nothing quite as compatible as apple cider and bourbon. As bourbons usually contain hints of caramel and oak, think of what a delish treat the concoction will be when apple cider comes into the picture and provides some fresh and crisp flavour to the dram.
Plus, this brew has such a solid and pleasant taste that you can enjoy it warm or chilled. The former is a comforting pick-me-up after a long day–think the adult version of hot chocolate–while the latter is a relish during scorching days. We all know we have an abundance of those in tropical Malaysia.
The average person will go through multiple rites of passage in their lifetime to signify the end of a particular stage in life and the beginning of the next one. A few examples include the day we remove our bicycle training wheels, the day we receive our first ever pay cheque, and the day we start spiking our family-friendly lemonade with whisky.
As lemonade adds a sweet tang that can effectively mask a whisky’s strong alcohol taste, this mixer makes a dangerously addictive beverage that can have you sipping incessantly before eventually realising that the boozy effect has hit you. So, do drink with caution.
This refreshing and thirst-quenching mixer works great with most whiskies, which is perfect for clearing out your liquor shelf. You can even throw in some fruits such as mangoes, coconuts, pineapples, berries, apples, and the like to amp up the palate.
Whisky and Coke need no introduction. It’s how most of us were introduced to whisky the moment we passed the legal age.
As a matter of fact, Coke is so prevalent in the alcohol industry that even if other similar flavoured, dark-coloured soda is used, people would just refer to it as “Coke” for congruency.
Bringing the subject back to whisky, Tennessee whisky is a routine pick for this staple mixer as Coke’s energising sweetness complements the smoky profile of most Tennessee whiskies. It’s like how we enjoy barbecued ribs or chicken wings that were marinated in honey. If the drink is too saccharine for you, squeeze some lime into it to balance out the flavours.
We’re not saying you should mix your breakfast quintessential with alcohol, but you know, if it’s gonna be a stressful day ahead, some leeway may be allowed or deserved even. There’s a reason why Baileys are so well-loved, isn’t it?
Coffee with whisky opens up a whole new dimension for whisky mixers. There are plenty of alcoholic concoctions made for parties or lonesome chill-drinking sessions at night, but whisky during the day needs some representation too, and this is where coffee comes in.
If you have some Irish whiskey lying around, mix the spirit together with hot coffee and sugar, then top it off with whipped cream, and you’ll have yourself a pick-me-up that’s stimulating, creamy, and boozy. So much win.
If we have coffee on the list, we can’t possibly ignore its nemesis: tea, lest we get bashed from tea-drinkers for not being inclusive. Stay woke peeps.
In all seriousness, whisky and tea is an extremely low maintenance brew. Boiling hot or icy cold, classic English breakfast, oolong or green tea, bourbon or rye–anything goes.
Considering how tea has such a subtle and light taste, the whisky will completely overpower it, so it’s recommended to add around two tablespoons of sugar to make the dram easier to consume.
There are those who also advocate using whiskies with smoky profiles such as bourbons and scotches, as tea will help to heighten the smoky aroma.
The endless possibilities of mixers
Let’s not whisky shame anybody here. Both sides of the coin are true. Whisky has a complex depth of flavour with multiple layers of nuances that's entirely enjoyable as it is.
On the other hand, mixers have the ability to add a little zing to the spirit. By incorporating other tastes, scents, and textures, they can enhance each other and make the experience a lot more interesting and fun.
At the end of the day, as always, to each his own, so explore or don’t–whatever rocks your whisky boat!