What to Mix (and Not Mix) with Whiskey

whiskey mix
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Whiskey can be enjoyed either straight, on the rocks, or mixed with other beverages in a tasty cocktail. Certain beverages and liquids go great with whiskey. However, other beverages should not be mixed with whiskey, mainly due to health reasons.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the common things that whiskey is mixed with and things you should not mix with whiskey or any other alcohol.

What to mix with whiskey

While many purists prefer to drink their whiskey neat or on the rocks, there are plenty of mixed whiskey drinks that are delicious! You can mix in things like milk, a variety of juices, and even different types of alcohol, like vodka, tequila, and rum. Below are just a few examples.

Does whiskey mix with milk?

Whiskey combined with milk, whether of the cow variety or coconut and almond milk, has a great taste. If you’re somebody who doesn’t like the taste of whiskey by itself, there are plenty of cocktails and mixed drinks that contain milk that may better suit your tastebuds.

There are a lot of great milk and whiskey combo recipes including a whiskey milk punch, which includes powdered sugar, whiskey, and milk. Another is called the Sneaky Pete Rye Whiskey cocktail from The Spruce Eats. This contains coffee liqueur, rye whiskey, and milk or cream.

Some prefer these combos better than drinking whiskey straight and some just like a creamier tasting drink. Use your best judgment and if the milk separates please don’t let yourself or anyone else drink it. Drinking curdled milk could result in food poisoning and painful stomach and digestive issues, as well as nausea and vomiting.

What juice goes with whiskey?

Here’s a list of the best juices to pair with whiskey. You can mix and match or add ice and spice to create something all your own. Have fun and experiment which ones you like based on whether you prefer sweet or sour and how strong you want your mixed drink.

  • Orange juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime Juice
  • Strawberry Juice
  • Apple Juice
  • Pear Juice
  • Cactus Juice
  • Pomegranate Juice
  • Passion Fruit Juice
  • Watermelon Juice
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Peach Juice
  • Grape juice
  • Coconut Juice
  • Kiwi Juice
  • Tomato Juice
  • Cherry Juice

Some popular cocktails include cranberry whiskey sour, pineapple whiskey sour, and apple whiskey sour. Another drink is Whiskey Crush, which uses rye whiskey and orange juice.

Can you mix whiskey with syrup and honey?

Simple answer is yes, both syrup, like maple syrup, and honey can be mixed into cocktails that contain whiskey. In some cases, you want to thin it out with warm water at a ratio of 1:1.

For example, you could make a Hanzo Steel, which has Japanese whisky, thinned honey, amaro, and grapefruit bitters. A Smoked & Salted contains Four Roses Bourbon, thinned syrup, and Crude Smoke & Salt bitters.

Can you mix whiskey with other alcohols?

Yes. You can mix whiskey with several different kinds of alcohol, like rum, vodka and tequila, to create unique mixed drinks and exceptionally scrumptious flavors. Many recipes that involve whiskey cocktails usually require more than one type of alcohol base.

For example, some martinis can contain both whiskey and vodka, like the Irish Martini cocktail. Or The Suburban, which contains rye whiskey, dark rum and port as well as bitters. Another drink is called Another Fine Mes, which has whiskey, tequila and orange liqueur.

Recommended reading: What is the difference between dark rum and white rum?

Some mixed drinks do not require the alcohol to mix together but rather layering and sitting atop one another without mixing. This is called layering.

Layering your drink

When you don’t want the alcohol in your mixed drink to actually mix but rather layer, there is a general rule of thumb to help keep your alcohols separated. First remember to keep adding your alcohol one shot at a time. Second remember that the less the proof of your alcohol the denser or heavier it is.

So you want to start with the liquid that has the least alcohol proof and work your way up in proof. Try not to add two alcohols with the same proof together because they may mix together.

Why is whiskey mixed with water?

According to the Washington Post, scientists are trying to explain why adding water to whiskey makes it taste better. Some scientists theorize that adding water to whiskey could cause more micelles to form and trap the compounds that don’t taste or smell good.

There’s also another competing theory that would suggest that adding water releases molecules that improve the flavor.

Many decide to put water in whiskey to make it easier to go down and give less heartburn, although by doing so you lessen the potency of the alcohol. A willing sacrifice for some sufferers of acid reflux.

Recommended reading: Is Whiskey Acidic?

How much does water dilute whiskey potency?

 By adding just 2 ounces of 100 proof whiskey to one half ounce of water you effectively dilute the drink to 80 proof alcohol.

Which means if you add a one half ounce of water to 2 ounces you dilute to the proof of the alcohol by 20%.

What not to mix with whiskey

Above, we listed many things that you can mix with whiskey to make delicious cocktails.

Now, we’ll get into things you should not mix with whiskey. Disclaimer, I am not a medical doctor, but based on the available literature, there are certain beverages you shouldn’t mix with whiskey or any other alcohol. The main reason is that it can significantly affect your health. Don’t forget — always drink responsibly!

Energy drinks

Moderation is the name of the game with alcohol, but there will always be that college student or that heartbroken soul that might not show very much restraint and, in effect, self-harm. Energy drinks are dangerous to mix with alcohol and for a good reason too, here’s why:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when you mix alcohol with an energy drink the caffeine in the beverage hides the natural depressants in the drink. This makes you feel more awake and alert and less like you’re as drunk as you really are.

People that consume energy drinks and alcohol mixed are more likely to overdrink and get alcohol poisoning or drive a car thinking they were okay because of the alertness they felt and suffered car accidents as a result. It’s always best to stay away from depressants and stimulants when alcohol is involved for safety reasons.

Cough syrup

This may come as no surprise to some of you, but cough syrup already has alcohol in it and has been known to be abused. Yes, people have tried this unique combination with whiskey and many other alcohol-based drinks.

When added to alcohol, it can cause dizziness and damage your liver at a higher rate. Some studies show that blacking out from drinking is higher when consuming alcohol after using cough syrup or mixing the cough syrup in with your drink.

Vanilla extract, bakers orange or any copious amounts of extract

It may sound funny to believe people out there are drinking vanilla extract and several other baking extracts for their alcohol content, but it can happen and is extremely hazardous.

If taken in extremely large amounts, the ethanol in the vanilla extract can and will cause a central nervous system depression that could lead to breathing difficulties. In asthma sufferers, it could be a death sentence. Extract abusers have dilated pupils, flushed skin, digestive issues and it can lower your blood pressure dramatically causing dizziness and fatigue and possibly even fainting and or blackouts.

You can even suffer from hypothermia from not being able to regulate your own body temperature or having the feeling of being hot from the alcohol-like effects and taking off clothing in cold temperatures. So extracts mixed with conventional alcohol like whiskey can give you alcohol poisoning very easily.

Please drink responsibly!

Final Round

There are plenty of things you can mix into whiskey, like milk, juice, water and even other alcohols. Rum, tequila and vodka can be great additions in making a delicious cocktail. However, for health reasons, there are other liquids you should not mix with whiskey or any other alcohol. These include energy drinks, cough syrup and extracts.