Hybrid Holiday: Combining National Cocktail & International Whisk(e)y Days

Image: MaximFesenko / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The weekend is rushing towards us and wow—it’s bringing a whole lotta awesome with it! National Cocktail Day, first officially celebrated in 2014, is Saturday, March 24. Sunday, March 25 is the start of the 2018 Nightclub & Bar Show, with registration opening and a party at Hakkasan. The party continues into the week from Monday through Wednesday in Las Vegas, and on Tuesday across the globe.

While Nightclub & Bar Show attendees learn, network and rock out in Vegas, countries around the world will be celebrating International Whisk(e)y Day on March 27. We're blessed to have two big bar holidays that offer operators excellent marketing, promotions and drink program opportunities so close to one another. That in mind, I thought it would be a great idea to combine National Cocktail Day with International Whiskey/Whisky Day. Yes, I just referred to my own idea as great—thank you for agreeing with me.

Below you’ll find nine cocktails featuring whiskeys (or whiskies if you prefer) from around to globe from brands that you need to know in 2018. We’re going to see a lot of whiskey releases coming to our shores and hitting the market from our own distilleries, so here’s a little taste of what you and your guests can expect to sip this year.

Ireland

The Irish and the Scots have long fought—and continue to do so—over which of them invented whiskey…or whisky. (Look, we all know how “whiskey” and “whisky” work by now so I'm going to stop offering up alternative spellings every time I use one or the other, alright? Fantastic.) Whisky Magazine declared Ireland the winner of this heated debate in issue 22 of their publication, so we’re going to start off with an Irish whiskey and its accompanying cocktails because what’s life without controversy?

Prizefight Whiskey is distilled and aged in Ireland, finished in American rye casks, and packaged in bottles that will certainly get attention when placed on your back bar. And honestly, could the name be any better when it comes to duking it out over who was the first to bring the world whiskey?

Prizefight Whiskey One Inch Punch cocktail -

One Inch Punch

  • 35ml Prizefight Whiskey
  • 5ml Peppermint cordial

Combine in a mixing glass and pour into shot glasses or build in shot glass.

Prizefight Whiskey Bloody Fight cocktail -

Bloody Fight

  • 2 oz. Prizefight Whiskey
  • 3.5 oz. Ginger beer
  • 0.5 oz. Blood Orange Juice
  • Lemon wheel to garnish

Combine whiskey and juice in a cocktail glass over ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with lemon wheel.

Prizefight Whiskey Blood & Sand cocktail -

Blood & Sand

Add ice to a mixing glass, add all ingredients, and stir. Pour into coupe glass and garnish with orange twist.

Prizefight Whiskey Saratoga cocktail -

Saratoga

  • 25ml Prizefight Whiskey
  • 25ml Cognac
  • 25ml Sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Lemon twist to garnish

Add ice to a mixing glass, add all ingredients, and stir. Pour into coupe glass and garnish with lemon twist.

All Prizefight cocktails and images courtesy of Prizefight Whiskey.

Scotland

Oooo, Scotland, did you read what I wrote up there about Ireland? You’re not just going to take that sitting down, are you? I’m guessing that no, you’re not going to just give up the fight, so I chose a Scotch that was once named Origin for the next cocktail.

Jura 10 Year Old has replaced Jura Origin, although if you happen to have a bottle or two of the original (see image below) in your inventory you should taste them against one another and offer your guests the opportunity to do the same, for a price.

Jura Whisky Raspberry Mule cocktail -

Jura Raspberry Mule

Recipe courtesy of Jura Whisky; Image: Jura Whisky Twitter page

  • 50 ml Jura 10 Year Old
  • Ginger beer to top
  • Dash bitters
  • 5 raspberries
  • 3 lime wedges

Squeeze lime wedges into glass and drop in limes. Add raspberries and Jura 10 Year Old. Stir. Top with ginger beer.

India

I’m willing to bet that India isn’t the first country you think of when you hear or read the word “whisky.” It’s likely not the first country of origin your guests think of, either. Well, you need to put India on your whisky radar because bars and restaurants with impressive, extensive whisky collections have had them on their menus for several years now. Interest in Indian whiskies from your guests is set to ramp up, and Paul John Single Malt Whisky is an excellent brand with which to become familiar. After all, The Sazerac Company invested in the brand near the end of 2017.

Brilliant Yellow Sapphire Martini cocktail by Paul John Single Malt Whisky, Shatbhi Basu and FoodLovers.in -

Brilliant Yellow Sapphire Martini

Recipe by Paul John Single Malt Whisky, Shatbhi Basu and FoodLovers.in; Image: Paul John Whisky YouTube

  • 45 ml Paul John Brilliance
  • 60 ml Fresh pineapple juice
  • 15 ml Sambuca
  • 1 to 2 pods Star anise
  • 2 wedges of lime
  • 10ml sugar syrup (optional)
  • 8 to 10 chunks fresh pineapple
  • Star anise, pineapple slice or pineapple flower with star anise to garnish

Ice a Martini glass to keep it cold. Add two cloves of star anise to mixing glass and gently muddle to release oils. Add pineapple and lightly muddle with star anise. Fill shaker ¾ with ice. Add all ingredients. Shake and double strain into pre-chilled Martini glass, garnish, and serve.

Canada

I know exactly which brands come to mind when you think of Canadian whiskies, so I’m not going to mention any of them. Instead, I’m going to suggest a rye whisky from John Drew Brands, a company every cigar smoker will recognize. The brand has yet to officially announce the distillery from which they source their rye, so all I can tell you is that the liquid is aged in toasted oak barrels, Jonathan Drew blended it according to his personal palate, and it goes well in a Manhattan with a cigar.

John Drew Brands Rye Manhattan cocktail -

John Drew Rye Manhattan

Recipe and image courtesy of John Drew Brands

  • 2 oz. John Drew Rye
  • 1 oz. Dry vermouth
  • Dash Angostura Bitters
  • Cherry to garnish

Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well and strain into a chilled Coupe or Martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.

United States

There is a ridiculous amount of whiskey produced in America (USA! USA! USA!), so why am I about to feature John Drew Brands again? Well, if you’d stop rolling your eyes you’d be able to read my explanation. I’m writing about John Drew Brixton Mash Destroyer for a few reasons:

  1. It’s called Destroyer.
  2. It’s Kentucky bourbon.
  3. It’s also Florida rum!

This is a mashup of American bourbon and rum, not only is this a first, it’s sure to grab the attention and pique the interest of your guests. Some of them will be excited, some of them will be dubious, but all of them will be intrigued. And that bottle art? It’s nothing if not eye catching and tempting.

The Gold Coast cocktail by John Drew Brands -

The Gold Coast

Recipe and image courtesy of John Drew Brands

  • 1.5 oz. Brixton Mash Destroyer
  • 0.75 oz. Honey syrup or 0.5 oz. Honey
  • 0.75 oz. Lemon juice
  • Dash Angostura bitters
  • Luxardo cherry to garnish

Shake and strain into a rocks glass with ice, add a dash of angostura bitters, and garnish with a Luxardo cherry. This cocktail pairs incredibly well with Pappy Van Winkle Tradition cigars.

Mexico

Mezcal may be el rey ("the king") in Oaxaca but it’s not the only spirit of note coming out of the Mexican state. Whiskey is also being produced there, and Sierra Norte Whiskey is a brand you need to know. Sierra Norte is not only committed to producing superior quality whiskey, they’re dedicated to preserving heirloom corns. After all, corn was “born” in Oaxaca over 7,000 years ago. The brand is also attempting to bring red and green corns back from extinction. For now, they’re producing single-barrel whiskey from yellow, white and black corns sourced from single-village, small-family farms.

When you get your hands on Sierra Norte I encourage you and your bartenders to play around with it in cocktails. These whiskeys are ready to replace bourbon in your cocktails.
 
Sierra Norte Mexican Manhattan cocktail -

Mexican Manhattan

Recipe and image courtesy of Sierra Norte Whiskey

In a mixing tin combine ice, whiskey, elderflower syrup, dry vermouth and bitters, and shake well. Strain into a lowball glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!