4 Foolproof Whisky and Tequila Cocktails
February 28, 2023 –––––– Brittany Risher Englert
You don’t always have to choose between tequila and whisky. The two can make for a deliciously complex cocktail, though you may not realize that the “something extra” you taste is coming from the clear spirit. “Tequila has a subtle vegetal note on both the nose and palate that brings a great depth of flavor when paired with the sweetness and spice of quality whisky. Like the celery in a great soup, it’s not the first thing you might notice, but it would be a completely different cocktail if omitted,” says Beau Harris, mixologist and general manager of Ziggy D’Amico’s Whiskey Bar & Diner in Naples, Florida.
When mixing whisky and tequila, most often aged tequilas work best since many are aged in bourbon barrels, explains James Estes, bar director of Nerano and BG Lounge in Beverly Hills, California. “Many of the subtle notes, colors, and nuances of the bourbon are carried over to the tequila during the aging process,” he adds.
From sweet to earthy to smoky, the drinks below showcase some of the diverse flavors you can create when you combine tequila and whisky.
Four Complex Whisky and Tequila Cocktails
Created by Beau Harris, mixologist and general manager, Ziggy D’Amico’s Whiskey Bar & Diner, Naples, Florida
“I’d take one of these after an excellent meal with good neighbors at the table,” Harris says. “The vanilla from the reposado, the orange from the zest and the liqueur, and the bittersweet chocolate from the amaro and the bitters are the stars of the show.”
- 1 oz. Casamigos reposado
- 1 oz. Lot 40 Canadian rye (or other Canadian rye)
- ½ oz. Ramazzotti amaro
- ½ oz. Gran Gala Triple Orange liqueur
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec chocolate bitters
- Orange twist for garnish
Add all ingredients to a double Old Fashioned glass with one large ice cube. Stir for 25-30 seconds. Express orange twist oils over the surface of the drink, then place the twist on top of the glass for garnish.
Created by Danielle Costa, head bartender, 230 Fifth Rooftop, New York City
Cinnamon bark and maple syrups add layers to this slightly earthy, slightly sweet cocktail.
- 1 oz. Tres Agaves reposado
- 1 oz. Amador chardonnay finished bourbon (or other white wine-finished wheated bourbon)
- 1 oz. fresh lime juice
- ½ oz. maple syrup
- ½ oz. cinnamon bark syrup (recipe below)
- Lime wedge and cinnamon stick for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with lime wedge and cinnamon stick.
Cinnamon Bark Syrup
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup demerara sugar
Break cinnamon sticks into shards. Add to a pot with water and sugar. Place over medium heat and bring to a low boil. As soon as mixture bubbles, turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into a mason jar, and let steep in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Strain into a glass flip-top bottle and keep refrigerated for 2 to 3 weeks.
Negro y Azul
Created by James Estes, bar director, Nerano and BG Lounge, Beverly Hills, California
Bold, rich, honeyed, and smooth, this cocktail’s name translates to “black and blue,” hinting at the charring of whiskey barrels and the blue agave used to make tequila.
- ¾ oz. Woodford Reserve bourbon (or other straight bourbon)
- ¾ oz. Tequila Ocho añejo
- ¾ oz. Bénédictine
- ½ oz. simple syrup
- ½ oz. egg white
- Grated lemon zest and 3 dashes Angostura bitters for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Strain into a Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with lemon zest and Angostura bitters.
Created by Travis Owens, beverage director, Wolf Ridge Brewing, Columbus, Ohio
Inspired by Mexican cuisine, this drink features notes of cinnamon, mace, and nutmeg from the Bénédictine, smoke from the whiskey, and subtle vanilla and soft oak from the reposado. “It’s meant to sip by a campfire on a chilly night,” Owens says.
- 1 oz. High West Campfire (or other peated rye)
- 1 oz. Siete Leguas reposado
- ¼ oz. Guajillo chile demerara syrup (recipe below)
- ¼ oz. Bénédictine
- 3 dashes chocolate bitters
- Dried deseeded guajillo chile pepper and dark chocolate for garnish
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir until well chilled, about 25 seconds. Strain over a large ice cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with chile pepper. Serve with a piece of dark chocolate.
Guajillo Chile Demerara Syrup
- 2 cups demerara sugar
- 1 cup water
- 4 deseeded dried guajillo chiles
Combine all ingredients in a pot over medium-low heat. Gently stir until sugar is dissolved, about 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool for 30 minutes. Strain into a glass bottle, seal, and keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.