Five Johnnie Walker Black riffs on classic cocktails


This article is part of a series, Art of the Riff, sponsored by Johnnie Walker. Find out more about Scottish cocktails here!

When John Walker, a young Victorian grocer in Kilmarnock, Scotland, first decided to blend and bottle local malts to ensure a more consistent whiskey for his customers, an enduring business model was born.

Today his legacy has prevailed and the traditional brand now offers a wide range of revered scotches, including Johnnie Walker Blue, Green, Red – and Black Label for every bartender. For strangers, Johnnie Walker Black offers a hint of white pepper and citrus on the nose and then transforms in the glass.

The liquid offers a wide range of complex flavors and when combined with the right ingredients, any flavor profile can be enhanced. Whether you want to create a cocktail with a spicy, fruity or smoky backbone, check out the versatile Johnnie Walker Black to discover a new world of interesting cocktails.

This malleability has made Spirit the go-to of every insider and today discovering new flavors is as easy as ordering your favorite beverages from Johnnie Walker Black Label. To make it easier, we’ve put together a list of classic cocktails that you can find behind any bar, each of which reveals an artful riff when made with Johnnie Walker Black.

Keep it simple

Even if you’ve never heard of a highball, you’ve probably tried one. Behind the bar, “highballs” are usually defined as simple cocktails made by combining a spirit with a non-alcoholic mixer. Trimmings are a great way to add value to these drinks – a lemon wedge activates the flavors of a whiskey and lemonade, while a lime juice brightens up a whiskey and cola – but most of all, you need a quality liquor to make the perfect highball.

Citrus acidity always makes for an unexpected taste, but another trick is to order your classic whiskey and ginger ale with ginger beer. Since ginger beer has a spicier taste than ginger ale, the ginger plays out the peppery notes in the Johnnie Walker Black Label and takes the drink one step higher. Adding lime to this combo not only adds flavor to it, but also turns it into the easily recognizable Kentucky Whiskey Mule (another popular highball).

Kentucky Whiskey Mule


● 1 ½ ounce Johnnie Walker Black Label
● ½ ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
● Ginger beer, top
● Sprig of mint, for garnish


1. Put scotch and lime juice in a copper mug or long drink glass.
2. Fill the mug or glass with ice and top it up with ginger beer.
3. Garnish with the sprig of mint.

Experiment with your favorite cocktails.

For those who have tried an Añejo Old Fashioned or experienced what a rich, golden tequila can do with your margarita, this scotch solution can change the way you view the world. The Johnnie Walker Black Label’s toffee and glazed pecans notes play off the classic triple sec, simple syrup, and lime margarita’s combination to further enhance those flavors and create a refreshing drink to mix and match year-round.

More than anything, this riff of the classic shows how diverse Johnnie Walker Black Label remains and will turn even the most dedicated tequila lover into Team Scotch. Pro tip: To really get the most out of the candied notes of the scotch, add a dash of orange liqueur just before serving.

Whiskey margarita


● 1 ½ ounce Johnnie Walker Black Label
● Juice of 1 lime
● 1 ounce triple sec
● 3 ounces sweet and sour mixture
● Salt, for rim
● Lime for garnish


1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add whiskey, lime juice, sweet and sour mix and triple sec.
2. Shake until combined.
3. Pour the ice into a highball glass or a glass with feet (if you are salting the rim, do this first).
4. Garnish with the lime wedge.

Make a twist.

Another classic cocktail with a base that should be swapped for whiskey is the lemon drop. The recipe stays about the same, but instead of using vodka, mix Johnnie Walker Black Label with lemon juice, an orange liqueur like Triple Sec, and store-bought (or homemade!) Sweet and sour to create your lemon drop. The scorched sugar notes of the scotch play off the usual flavors of the cocktail and add a sugar rim for a truly delicious sip.

Lemon candy


● 1 ½ ounce Johnnie Walker Black Label
● ½ ounce triple sec
● 1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
● 1 ounce simple syrup
● Sugar, for edge


1. Brush the rim of a cocktail glass with sugar and set it aside (do this a few minutes beforehand so the sugar can dry and adhere well to the glass).
2. Put scotch, triple sec, lemon juice and simple syrup in a shaker.
3. Shake until it is well cooled.
4. Strain into the prepared glass.

G&T? Get to know Scotch & Tonic.

The gin and tonic may be the most famous highball in the world – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Try swapping the gin for Johnnie Walker Black Label to discover how the spirit’s signature smokiness and dark fruit notes can play with tonic water.

In fact, the success of every gin and tonic lies in the gin’s diverse botanicals – meaning the cocktail is the perfect medium to fully taste everything Johnnie Walker Black has to offer. If you’re feeling adventurous, try different flavored tonic waters to bring out different flavors in the spirit. For example, you may find that a ginger or vanilla flavored tonic brings out caramel or honey notes, while a tonic with a hint of lime can activate the liquor’s smokier flavors.

Whiskey tonic


● 1 ½ ounce Johnnie Walker Black Label
● 4 ounces of tonic water
● 2 lime wheels, for garnish


1. Fill a highball glass with ice
2. Add scotch.
3. Top up with tonic water and stir gently until everything is well mixed.
4. Garnish with lime wheels.

Pack a punch.

When it comes to mixing party-perfect cocktails, try replacing the rum in a rum punch with Johnnie Walker Black Label. The vanilla and gentle grape notes of the liquid play off the fruit juices of the punch and at the same time give the honey-sweet notes of dried fruits. Mix the scotch, some of your favorite juices (think orange juice, pineapple juice, mango juice, guava juice, and strawberry juice) plus lime juice and grenadine, and sit back and sip your new favorite drink: whiskey punch.

Whiskey punch


● 1 ½ ounce Johnnie Walker Black Label
● 1 ounce pineapple juice
● 1 ounce of orange juice
● 1 ounce of lime juice, freshly squeezed
● ½ ounce grenadine
● Brandy or maraschino cherries and orange wedges for garnish


1. Pour Johnnie Walker Black Label, pineapple, orange and lime juice plus grenadine into a shaker with ice.
2. Shake until it is well cooled.
3. Strain over fresh ice in a hurricane glass.
4. Garnish with brandy or maraschino cherry and a slice of orange.

This article is sponsored by Johnnie Walker.


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