Not all whiskey cocktails are created equal. Some are too sour, some are too sweet. When it comes to classics made incorrectly, professionals agree a select few are in the danger zone.
From over-ordered mixed drinks to monotone, one-note flavors, there are some whiskey cocktails that are not bartenders’ favorites, for reasons spanning unbalanced proportions to pure ubiquity. We talked to bartenders across the country and asked them to share what they consider the most overrated whiskey cocktail.
A good rule of thumb? Talk to your bartender to get the best cocktail and flavor profile for you. Here, the most overrated whiskey cocktails.
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The Most Overrated Whiskey Cocktails:
- Whiskey Sour
- Old Fashioned
- Mint Julep
- Whiskey and Ginger
Keep reading for details about all of the recommended bottles!
“I’d say the whiskey sour. It’s a great cocktail with nice balance, but to me it is tired in its classic form. To make it fun, we add some wine on top to make it a ‘New York Sour,’ or we will play with the citrus. But overall, it’s just boring.” —Joshua Lopez, Beverage Manager, Osaka Miami, Miami
“Whiskey Sour. Most bartenders tend to make it incorrectly and it’s not a great mixer.” —Miguel Sandoval, Mixologist and Whiskey Specialist, Pasea Hotel, Huntington, Calif.
“A whiskey sour without egg white, I think, is overrated. I have a love for egg white cocktails and adding that to your typical whiskey sour brings it up so many levels.” —Darren Fallon, Lead Mixologist, The Watch: Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits at The Restoration Hotel, Charleston, S.C.
“Although I’m a fan of a good Old Fashioned, it is quite overrated. I enjoy doing spins on this classic — sometimes I smoke it or instead of simple syrup use a nice Combier fruit-infused liqueur like Crème de Mûre or Pêche.” —Johnny Swet, Master Mixologist and Founding Partner, JIMMY Rooftop Bar, NYC
“I’ve always thought the Old Fashioned was the most overrated! Don’t get me wrong; they can be done well, but at what point are you just distracting from what should be a beautiful bourbon or whiskey with just a little extra sugar?” —Meg Hoberg, Lead Bartender, Sidebar at Bode Nashville, Nashville, Tenn.
“Old Fashioned. It’s the ‘ham and swiss’ of cocktails. Sure, they are good. Almost everyone will eat one, but you wouldn’t order it in a restaurant, would you? Every home bartender should learn to make a good Old Fashioned so they can order more sophisticatedly in bars.” —Rob Krueger, Head Bartender at John Fraser Restaurants, NYC
“Manhattan; it’s had its run. There are more complex cocktails that derive from the Manhattan that better showcase the whiskey.” —Jeff Fredeen, Crush Lounge Bartender, Meritage Resort, Napa Valley, Calif.
“Most bartenders ‘round these parts would agree that the most overrated whiskey cocktail is none other than the ubiquitous Kentucky Derby classic, the Mint Julep. Unfortunately, there’s not a great way to create balance with the core ingredients of bourbon, sugar, and mint, and oftentimes a slapdash job will end with a sad, bruised mint salad at the bottom of the glass, and dilution issues if the julep tin isn’t ripping cold and packed with pebble or crushed ice.” —SC Baker, Bartender, Bar Expo, Louisville, Ky.
“The whiskey and ginger ale combo is the most overrated whiskey cocktail. And this typically refers to American whiskey (bourbon, rye, etc.). People should look more into ordering a well-crafted Kentucky Mule. It’s basically a Moscow Mule, but instead of vodka you use American whiskey, then add a couple dashes of bitters into it. It’s much better than a simple whiskey and ginger ale.” —Anthony Baker, Mixologist and Virtual Cocktail “Professor,” NYC