The Drinks Master: Why whisky is the big cocktail mixer of 2018 – whatever gin fans might think

Craig Harper

Everyone is talking about gin, but it’s whisky that’s quietly dominating the British spirits market. It reclaimed its top spot this year – from vodka rather than gin – as Britain’s favourite spirit, selling 2.7m more litres than the year before. That’s an extra 54m neat drams, whisky gingers, manhattans, and old fashioneds.

But there’s some confusion around whisky: lots of numbers, names, ages, geographies, and that’s before you tackle how you even drink it: with or without water, ice, soda or a mixer? I grew up in a pub in the Highlands of Scotland and, as you can imagine, there was quite a bit of whisky knocking about. The most important thing I learnt was to drink it how you like.

In Japan, they’re making some of the best and most desirable drams on the planet right now, and they drink most of it in a Mizuwari, a much revered whisky & soda of Zen-like simplicity that you’ll find being emulated in the coolest bars in London and NYC right now. One of these is Black Rock, my favourite place for a dram in London, where you can discover new whiskies mixed and straight, all categorised by flavour rather than geography, which is far more important. You’ll find fruit, spice, smoke, fragrant, sweet and balanced in their cabinets, and whisky highballs to match – and now is the time to drink them.

A great autumn drink is the whisky ginger. It’s a historic classic whisky highball that’s been around for generations, hidden under different names: a horse’s neck, mamie taylor or an Irish buck anyone? It’s still served at the smartest bars in the world, and it’s easy to make. The three gingers we use (fresh green ginger from the Ivory Coast, Cochin ginger, and Nigerian ginger) are incredible flavour enhancers for any whisky, and when mixed with ice and served long with a garnish, it can taste so gorgeous you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life.

Which is why, for London Cocktail Week, we’re going big on the whisky ginger. Those whisky experts at Black Rock have created four different whisky blends to match with our Ginger mixers along the fruit, spice, smoke, and sweet flavour profiles. Come down to visit the Black Rock & Fever-Tree Bar at London Cocktail Week or mix this one up at home.


• 50ml Copperdog Whisky

• Splash of PX sherry

• Spiced Orange Ginger Ale

• Garnish with Orange Twist and sprig of mint

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