4 Classic Bourbon & Whiskey Cocktails to Try This Holiday (Plus Best Spirits to Drink Neat!)

It’s here, it’s here—the time of year for spreading cheer and for prancing reindeer. The holiday season is a time to gather with friends and family and celebrate the holy spirits: rum, scotch, brandy and whiskey.

The clear, warm-weather liquors of yesterday’s sun have given way to the fuller-bodied, warming dark spirits. Every group has its favorites, from the ultra-traditional eggnog and rum to the latest cocktail Pinterest has to offer.

PA Eats is going to help you be ready for any holiday situation with this collection of drinks sure to please any person above the legal drinking age of 21!

For Scotch, Whiskey or Bourbon Sippers

Trying to impress a prospective father-in-law? There’s no quicker way to get on his good side than by offering a neat scotch—or to blow his mind with a creative cocktail.

Blood and Sand

The Blood and Sand, equal parts single-malt scotch, sweet vermouth, Cherry Heering and orange juice, was made popular in 1930 when the recipe first appeared in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, which is available on Amazon and makes almost as great a gift as the cocktails themselves.


  • .75 oz Scotch
  • .75 oz Sweet vermouth
  • .75 oz Cherry brandy
  • .75 oz Fresh orange juice
  • Garnish: Orange peel


Add all the ingredients in a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

The Old Fashioned

This classic’s name refers to the definition of a cocktail: a combination of liquor, sugar, water and bitters. Although an Old Fashioned is usually made with whiskey, it suits scotch as well.


  • 1 brown-sugar cube
  • .5 tsp white sugar
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 dash Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6
  • .25 oz cold water
  • 2 oz American whiskey
  • Garnish: lemon and orange twists


Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass. Muddle to break down the sugar and stir briefly. Fill with ice, stir again and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Twist slices of lemon and orange peel over the drink and drop them in.

The Presbyterian

The Presbyterian is simple, refreshing and shockingly little known, at least by name. Simply equal parts whiskey, ginger ale and club soda, the Presbyterian is like a beginner’s guide on “how to whiskey.”


  • 2 oz Scotch (may substitute bourbon or rye whiskey)
  • Ginger ale
  • Club soda


Add the scotch to a Collins glass and fill with ice. Fill with equal amounts of ginger ale and soda.

The Rob Roy

Although your taste buds may want to call this a Manhattan, the Rob Roy uses Scotch and orange bitters instead of rye whiskey and aromatic bitters that its more famous cousin boasts.


  • 2 oz Scotch whisky
  • .75 oz Sweet vermouth
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish: cherry


Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Best Bourbon & Whiskeys Served Neat

Although cocktails are great if you really have to impress a hardcore scotch or whiskey lover, the best way to do it is pour some in a glass, neat. It may burn going down but the adoration from that tough-nut-to-crack father-in-law is well worth it. Here are some top-notch options for your holiday gathering, for less than $100.

  • Springbank 10-Year-Old 100 Proof—distilled beginning in bourbon barrels and ending in sherry barrels.
  • The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year—spends most of its life in second-fill bourbon casks prior to being transferred to first-fill Oloroso sherry casks.
  • Royal Lochnagar 12 Year—this hard-to-find scotch is a British favorite because of its delicious classic flavors.
  • The Macallan Cask Strength—another sherry cask-finished scotch.
  • Glenkinchie 1991 Distillers Edition—Glenkinchie started making Scotch in 1837, and the experience shows.
  • Bulleit Bourbon—made with small-batch techniques inspired by those pioneered by Augustus Bulleit more than 150 years ago.
  • Maker’s Mark Whiskey—a small-batch bourbon whiskey distilled in Loretto, Kentucky.
  • Glenlivet 12 Year—the delicate and complex character of the 12 Year Old derives from the height and width of stills at The Glenlivet Distillery.