Upgrade Your Backyard Bartending Skills With These Fresh Takes on Whiskey Cocktails

Photos: Shutterstock; Design: Rebecca Hoskins/Thrillist

You don’t have to turn your kitchen into a mad scientist’s lab in order to mix up cocktails at home that are just as tasty as what you’d find at the local bar. In fact, a few simple upgrades to tried-and-true classics can result in a drink that tastes completely brand-new. Be it a whiskey ginger with an added twist of lime, using Jameson Cold Brew with your cola highball, or swapping honey for simple syrup in a mint julep, these easy additions will make any backyard bartender look like a pro.

Mix cold brew with your cola highball 

Whiskey and cola may have been the first cocktail you ordered at a bar, but with one simple swap of Jameson Cold Brew, the drink gets a real glow up. Jameson Cold Brew & Cola has a distinctive coffee flavor that pairs surprisingly well with the sweet, fizzy flavor of cola. Plus, those flavors are only further emphasized with a zing of citrus thanks to an orange twist. Pair with a warm summer night and a group of friends for a truly unforgettable kickback.

Toss an oyster in your pickleback

Sure, a pickleback shot might not be for the faint of heart even in its original form. But in spite of the, shall we say, unorthodox ingredients, this revamped version with oysters — hear us out — is a match made in heaven. The sweet, creamy flavors of a Barcat oyster meld with the salty brine of pickle juice and the oaky smoothness of a Jameson Irish Whiskey in the most unexpected and completely mouth watering way. If you plan on hosting any type of swanky affair on a boat (or just near the coast) this summer, this is the drink for you.

Photos: Jameson, Shutterstock; Design: Rebecca Hoskins/Thrillist

Add pineapple to a traditional whiskey sour 

Upgrading the citrus in a classic sour is one of the simplest ways to transport yourself to a tropical island getaway, no expensive hotel reservations required. The sweet, tangy flavor of not just pineapple, but pineapple tepache, in this fruity take on a classic whiskey sour balances out the smooth taste of whiskey, making for an upgraded drink that’s perfect for sipping on the beach or during reruns of your favorite island-set TV show. Tepache sounds intimidating, but is surprisingly simple to make: slice the skin off a pineapple, then mix with sugar and water in an airtight container, allow it to sit for 24 hours, and strain. Not into the project? Pineapple juice works just fine, too.

Drop a lime in your whiskey ginger 

If sunburns and surfing isn’t your thing, cool off with a tart addition to the typical whiskey ginger: a wedge of lime. Described as the “perfect accompaniment for a summer day,” Jameson, Ginger & Lime is tasty as it is classy. The sour, citrusy tang of ginger ale mixed with a squeeze of lime makes for a crisp, and surprisingly refreshing, summer drink. Like a friend that’s always up for anything, this drink is the perfect companion for rooftop parties or to sip by the shade of the cabana.

Stir some honey in a mint julep 

Mint juleps are the quintessential summer drink, but nixing traditional simple syrup for the honey version, like this recipe calls for, is an easy upgrade. Don’t let the simplicity of this drink fool you — it’s as tasty as it is uncomplicated. The sweetness of honey perfectly complements the warm and spicy notes of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, while the cooling sensation of mint makes for a drink that’s perfect to beat the summer heat. 

Photos: Jameson, Shutterstock; Design: Rebecca Hoskins/Thrillist

Spice up whiskey lemonade with mint & bitters 

No summer barbecue is complete without some boozy lemonade, but this minty take on the classic will quench your thirst while providing endless opportunities for only the cutest social media pics. At first glance, darker spirits like whiskey may seem too bold for summer herbs, but they actually can accentuate the liquor’s sweet vanilla notes. This version also calls for bitters, which keeps the cocktail from becoming a sweetness overload. 

Make a highbrow jello shot

Combining highbrow and lowbrow elements is a surefire way to show off for your friends. The elegant flavors of a classic old fashioned come alive in this fun jello shooter recipe that’s sure to be a hit at your next backyard barbecue. The recipe calls for Jameson Black Barrel Whiskey and maraschino cherries, so this drink still offers the same bold, rich flavors (and aura of sophistication) you’d find in the traditional cocktail,  even in its gelatin form. Plus, they’re way easier to make for a crowd. 

Smooth out your sangria with a shot

Placing a big pitcher of fruit-filled sangria on the picnic table is always the move, but instead of using solely red wine in yours, a little bit of whiskey can help smooth out any dryness (instead of mixing in some lemon-lime soda, which is the usual addition). This version calls for bitters and ginger beer, too, but sangria is one of those infinitely customizable drinks, so putting your own spin on it is particularly encouraged.