I remember my first whiskey on the rocks fondly: I was at a dimly lit, red-painted dive bar with a friend who arrived at the table with two Wild Turkey bourbons, not to be refused. To my surprise, I liked it—sweet and strong, yet light and refreshing. Ever since, I’ve noticed that whenever I order whiskey at a bar (Maker’s Mark is now my go-to), the bartender takes me seriously; and usually some gentleman from down the bar will start a conversation—whiskey, I’ve learned, is a fantastic man magnet.
I recently sat down with the incredibly talented Jillian Vose, who tends bar at New York City’s Death & Co and acts as ambassador for Campari's Women & Whiskies program, to talk about everything from our favorite bourbons to how men and women approach the bar differently. Much to our delight, whiskey’s popularity with women is on the rise, and perhaps it’s because the ladies are starting to better understand what kinds of drinks they like. I, for one, can totally relate: It’s empowering to know what I like to drink, just as it’s empowering to be independent and successful in my career.
This winter, I urge you to swap out your usual libation for a warming pour of liquid gold. With so many different whiskeys out there in a wide range in flavors, it could take a lifetime to try them all. It’s best you start now. Without further ado, here my tips for drinking whiskey (like a lady, of course):
Try Whiskey Cocktails
Jillian recommends a sweet and refreshing Whiskey Sour, a classic cocktail made with whiskey, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Lightweights beware: You might not even taste the whiskey in there!
Try: Bulleit Rye —Sweet and spicy, this unique blend is great for mixing.
Smell Your Whiskey
Don’t shoot it. Take your time and sniff your whiskey like you would a nice glass of wine. A nice bottle will have a vast range of aromas, from tropical fruit to caramel to crème brulee. Smells good, huh?
Try: Four Roses Single Barrel—This fragrant, unblended whiskey has notes of berries, stone fruits, caramel, vanilla, and baking spices.
Order It on the Rocks
Water opens up the flavor molecules in whiskey, and ice makes it easier to drink. Be warned, after one of these you will most likely fall in love with whiskey.
Try: Jameson Irish Whiskey—This classic is smooth, easy to drink, and boasts hints of bright apple, spicy cinnamon, ripe pear, and honey.
Order the Good Stuff
The more expensive the whiskey, the more it’s been distilled and mellowed through the barrel aging process. Why is this better? Aged whiskey is generally smoother and easier to drink neat. You can thank me later.
Try: Johnnie Walker Platinum—This new release from Johnnie Walker is affordably priced for a high quality blended Scotch whiskey.
Ask for recommendations, talk to bartenders, and try lots of different things. Don’t be shy to ask for a small taste before you commit; bartenders love curious patrons and will likely introduce you to something truly fantastic. Tip accordingly.
Try: Bowmore 12—This smoky scotch tastes of salty open sea air, creamy vanilla, and almost a hint of a beach bonfire.
Have Fun with It
Invite friends over for a BYOB tasting party, that way you and your friends can taste a range of different bottles!
Try: Hibiki 12— Smooth, light, a little bit floral; this is a bottle I’m excited to share with my best girl friends.
Finally, Drink Responsibly
I recommend the every other rule—one tipple, one glass of water, one tipple, one… You get the idea.
—Emily Arden Wells
Emily Arden Wells is an architect and the founding writer behind cocktail, food, and art website Gastronomista.