Whiskey Book Review: Whiskey Cocktails - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Book Review: Whiskey Cocktails

The world is full of cocktail books. I myself have both received and gifted cocktail books, and the range of options means there’s a cocktail book for every person and situation. And now, thanks to editor Tayler Bentley, there’s another.

Whiskey Cocktails: A Curated Collection of Over 100 Recipes From Old-School Classics to Modern Originals. Edited by Tayler Bentley, has the potential to appeal to audiences besides the obvious one of whiskey drinker. This focused book is a perfect read for the casual cocktail maker and common bourbon drinker. It’s designed for the folks who enjoy a quality read that’s not too serious–and perhaps already have the know-how to adjust their drinks as needed for their palate.

Whiskey Cocktails includes more than 100 cocktail recipes, all featuring whiskey, accompanied by descriptions of distilleries and types of whiskey. It is hyper-focused on American whiskey, with only a couple of references to the rest of the world. The large name brands that hold the majority of the market are strongly represented. A brief history and summary of Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace, Corsair and others depicts the major players in the American whiskey world.

There are some definite highlights amongst the 100+ cocktail recipes included. For example, directions are included on how to make black sesame orgeat, a somewhat advanced ingredient for the average home cocktailer. There is also a section on whiskey liqueur drinks that sound nice for after dinner imbibing opportunities. In general, the cocktails are not ones you might find in the modernist cocktail bars around the country, and are often proportioned for filling a flask (funnily enough), but there are some gems if you search through. Most recipes are easy to execute, but may be slightly unbalanced, and there is also a split usage between measurement in ‘parts’ and ‘ounces.’

I found the directions for the Sazerac to be particularly interesting. It suggests serving the drink at room temperature without stirring or adding any water to achieve dilution (30% dilution is close to average when shaking or stirring a cocktail). While potentially historically accurate due to the reduced availability of ice 200 years ago, I’m surprised it is recommended as an intended way to imbibe. Having tasted many drinks pre- and post- dilution/chilling, I have to say, cold is better!

I very much enjoyed the key pages scattered throughout presenting the histories and stories of major distilleries. They had insightful anecdotes and summarized the story of each distillery concisely, in a way that is easy to understand for the average consumer. This underscores the practicality of this book, as it highlights the broad world of American whiskey.

This book, admittedly, has its faults. However, it does a lovely job at being approachable. It is well presented and is friendly for the average consumer. It may take some adjustments when it comes to mixing beverages at home, but it can be an enjoyable read for those daydreaming about mint juleps at the derby. Take parts of this book with a grain of salt, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy it and try some of the cocktails while you’re at it!

About the author

Cameron Holck

Bartender in Portland, OR.