12 Best Drinks To Mix With Salted Caramel Whiskey

salted caramel cocktails
salted caramel cocktails - Static Media / Shutterstock

Salted caramel is one of those flavor combinations that's so popular we've forgotten that it was once a fun novelty. Salted caramel whiskey offers the same magic combination of salty and sweet flavors, with the extra kick of whiskey's oak-barrel-derived flavors. This creates many delicious opportunities for flavor combinations in our favorite drinks, whether they're sweet indulgences, boozy tipples, or cozy-making nightcaps.

Salt actually acts as a flavor enhancer, bringing an extra dimension to already popular drinks by suppressing unpleasant bitter notes, promoting pleasant sweetness, and even interacting with sour and umami flavors. Put simply, the reason we love salt on our food and in our drinks is that it makes it taste more, well, more. Putting salt and caramel together is a power move, which works particularly well in certain combinations. Apple, citrus, coffee, chocolate, and spice notes all benefit from the interaction of salt and caramel, especially when layered in with the complexities of whiskey.I've managed bars and worked as a bartender for many years, as well as working in spirits retail, sales, and marketing, giving me plenty of time and opportunity to experiment with some wacky whiskies. Salted caramel whiskey offers a unique chance to pair some less-than-common flavor combinations. I had a lot of fun assembling this list of the best drinks to mix with salted caramel whiskey, based on some of my favorite experiments and lessons I've learned behind the bar.

Read more: 13 Liquors Your Home Bar Should Have

Salted Caramel Whiskey Sour

two whiskey sour cocktails
two whiskey sour cocktails - Alexpro9500/Getty Images

The word "sour" does a lot of heavy lifting in the name of this drink, but a whiskey sour is more than just a face-puckering beverage. The magic of a classic, frothy whiskey sour is the delicate balance it creates between the acidity of its sour ingredients, usually lemon juice, and its sweeter components, typically a simple syrup. Salted caramel whiskey brings its own sweetness to the table, and its saltiness actually complements the sourness in the drink.

I'm a huge fan of the gold rush cocktail, a whiskey sour spinoff that uses honey in place of sugar. A common variation on the gold rush even involves a pinch of salt to enhance the depth of its citrus flavor and sweetness. Salted caramel whiskey is a twofer, simultaneously replacing the need for sugar, as well as providing the complementary layer of salinity, just like the gold rush. The flavor of caramel, supported by the oaky vanilla and subtle spice in whiskey, delivers a suite of characteristics to complement the pronounced lemon flavor. The foam that forms on the drink can also be a saliva-inducing mixture of lemon, salt, and caramel.

Some salted caramel whiskeys are sweeter than others, and those that aren't as sugary may still need a squeeze of simple syrup to maintain balance with the sour lemon juice. Similarly, extremely sweet whiskeys may require more lemon juice to balance. Experiment with ratios in quarter-ounce increments until you hit that sweet (and sour) spot.

Salted Kentucky Mule

Kentucky mule cocktail
Kentucky mule cocktail - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

A Kentucky mule is a popular spin on the Moscow mule, replacing vodka with bourbon whiskey, alongside ginger beer and lime. My favorite bourbons to use in a Kentucky mule are those with inherent caramel flavor from the new charred American oak barrels, as this quality wraps around the spicy ginger notes to create a stimulating contrast of flavors. Salted caramel whiskey takes this principle to the next level, with the salt adding depth to the acidic lime flavor.

Opting for a ginger beer on the spicier side is a good idea, as this heat helps to soften the intensity of salted caramel whiskey's sweetness. Similarly, lime softens the sugariness while complementing the flavor of caramel. This version of the mule is about as far from Moscow as you can get it, but these combined flavors allow the oak-derived qualities of whiskey to shine in a long, refreshing, yet robust beverage. The final prerequisite for this drink is the quintessential copper mug in which to serve it.

Salted Caramel Irish Coffee

Irish coffee cocktail
Irish coffee cocktail - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Coffee is one of the only substances that can rival my love of whiskey, so combining the two in an Irish coffee is one of my favorite ways to have my cocktail and drink it too. What makes this twist on the classic so good is that salt is excellent at enhancing the nutty qualities of coffee and making it seem less bitter. Paired with the sweetness of caramel, this turns a boozy black coffee into a more dessert-like indulgence. A salted caramel Irish coffee is a real treat after dinner, being rich in flavor while having the sweetness restrained by the coffee and salt.

Use salted caramel whiskey in the same proportions as you would Irish whiskey, typically between one and one and a half ounces. Traditionally, Irish coffee calls for sugar, but with the sweetness derived from the caramel in the whiskey, this is most likely unnecessary. Ultimately, though, it's up to your preference. With a topping of whipped cream, you can sprinkle shaved chocolate, cocoa powder, or even a few grains of sea salt if you really want to lean into this flavor combination.

Salted Caramel Appletini

appletini cocktail, apple
appletini cocktail, apple - Julio Ricco/Getty Images

Known as the drink of choice for J.D. from the sitcom "Scrubs," even bartenders are now rooting for the return of the appletini. Not only is its name fun to say, but the appletini is a refreshingly sweet and sour apple-flavored cocktail, with vodka leading the charge. The question is, how can salted caramel whiskey work in an appletini?

Well, caramel is a powerful vehicle for sweetness, and the saltiness it contributes to a cocktail such as this is actually quite pleasant. Just as a whiskey sour benefits from a touch of salinity while the sweetness helps to create balance against the drink's sour components, the same relationships of flavor exist in the salted caramel appletini.

It's worth knowing that this is a very different creature from the typical appletini -- perhaps the Frankentini would be a better name for it. Instead of simply piggybacking on the pre-existing contrast of sweet and sour, this variation introduces the subtle yet distinct quality of saltiness and the weight of whiskey instead of vodka. It's like having the whole cast of a sitcom together in one scene. While there are distinct contrasts between some characters, ultimately, their interaction makes for an enjoyable show.

Salted Caramel Old-Fashioned

old fashioned cocktail
old fashioned cocktail - Tomas Zhao do Amaral/Shutterstock

They say if you put an infinite number of monkeys in front of typewriters for an infinite amount of time, they'll eventually re-invent the recipe for an old-fashioned... or something like that. Personally, I believe all it takes is a bottle of salted caramel whiskey and a slow afternoon. The old-fashioned is one of the most versatile cocktails around, mostly due to its simplicity, sublimely combining booziness, sweetness, and bitterness. Salted caramel whiskey adds a saline fourth dimension to this classic trifecta for an even deeper, more complex experience.

A typical old-fashioned uses about a teaspoon of sugar to provide the sweetness, but salted caramel whiskey brings some of its own, meaning you won't need as much. Depending on how sweet your chosen salted caramel whiskey is, you can opt to use half a teaspoon of sugar, or even golden syrup or caramel sauce if you really want to highlight the caramel element.

Similarly, you want to dial in the amount of bitters you use to maintain balance with the sugar, so experimentation is key. Salt can actually suppress the sensation of bitterness, so you may even need to add a dash or two extra. The upshot to this is the actual flavor of the bitters, be it spiciness, herbaceousness, or any other featured flavorings can become more pronounced without the bitter kick.

Salted Caramel Espresso Martini

espresso martini cocktail
espresso martini cocktail - Heleno Viero/Shutterstock

There's certainly more than one way to combine salted caramel with coffee, and we'd be remiss to exclude one of the crowd-favorite coffee cocktails, the espresso martini. There are many popular ingredients to elevate your next espresso martini, but salt is one of my absolute favorites. While working its magic to suppress coffee's bitterness and enrich its flavor, salted caramel whiskey also introduces the oak barrel, vanilla, and spice that vodka doesn't usually bring to the drink. This means the espresso martini is a touch more robust than the typical vodka-based version, and offers a little something extra for the whiskey fans among us.

Salted caramel whiskey is a marvelous partner to coffee liqueur, making this a cocktail of cohesive elements that's incredibly moreish. One of my favorite aspects of this style of drink is the salinity of the foam, which can be further added to by a pinch of course sea salt.

Salted Caramel Eggnog

caramel eggnog drinks
caramel eggnog drinks - Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

You don't have to stretch the imagination too far to understand why something as creamy, sweet, and spiced as eggnog welcomes a splash of salted caramel whiskey. While brandy has long been the traditional choice for spiking eggnog, a popular alternative (especially for yours truly), is a whiskey of the bourbon persuasion. Bourbon's common tasting notes of vanilla, caramel, and baking spice, are all marvelously congruent with those in eggnog. It's also not unusual for eggnog recipes to include a pinch of salt to level up the drink's richness.

Salted caramel whiskey takes this one step further, ramping up the toffee-like flavors and adding salt into the mix. The touch of salt from this type of whiskey helps to enrich baking spice flavors, draw out the sweetness, and enhance the already lusciously creamy mouthfeel of this egg-based drink. Given salted caramel's status as a popular flavor of sweet treat, this already ambrosial beverage is a seamless vessel for its idiosyncratic deliciousness.

Spiked Apple Cider With Salted Caramel

hot apple cider caramel apple
hot apple cider caramel apple - Olga Lyubkin/Shutterstock

It's no secret that apple and caramel are practically best buds, and adding a pinch of salt only strengthens this friendship. Come the frosty months, a warm cup of apple cider can be the ultimate comfort drink. For the grown-ups, myself included, a cheeky ounce or two of whiskey makes the drink even cozier. One way to max out the indulgence is to spike your apple cider with salted caramel whiskey. After undergoing the salted caramel treatment, this already delectable hot drink becomes richer, more complex, and a touch sweeter than with normal whiskey. Throw a cinnamon quill in there for good measure and that's about as festive as it can get.

If the warmer weather hasn't yet passed and you still want to enjoy this particular assembly of flavors, you're in luck. You can combine apple cider and salted caramel whiskey over ice for an equally enjoyable version of this drink. A cinnamon quill still introduces welcome baking spice, and a few chunks of apple in your drink make an edible garnish.

Irish Cream And Salted Caramel Martini

creamy martini cocktails
creamy martini cocktails - Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock

Sometimes, you don't want to tone down sweetness but wholeheartedly embrace it. As a huge fan of Irish cream liqueur, I'll take any opportunity to see what it can do. Mixing Irish cream liqueur with salted caramel whiskey may not be a common way to make what one would call a "traditional martini", but hey, it's in a martini glass, and that's good enough for me.

Combining salted caramel whiskey and Irish cream liqueur in a cocktail shaker before giving it a vigorous thrashing and pouring into a martini glass is about as simple as it can be. The result is a creamy, sweet, caramel-flavored, yet whiskey-spiked treat. The salted caramel whiskey and Irish cream liquor are inherently compatible, with the salt enriching the creamy flavor of the liqueur and the whiskey giving the drink just enough heft.

The reason we still use a shaker for such a basic mixture is for the creamy texture and slight foam this method creates. If you prefer your sweet drinks to taste less boozy, you can add a splash of milk or cream to smooth out the edges. For bonus points, you can decorate your glass with a drizzle of chocolate syrup or caramel sauce, or even give the vessel a salted caramel rim.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

salted caramel whiskey hot chocolate
salted caramel whiskey hot chocolate - contrse/Shutterstock

I, like so many others, first discovered the magic of salted caramel as a flavor of chocolate. It's no secret that salt makes cocoa taste better, so it makes perfect sense that salt can coax out the deepest flavors in hot chocolate. There is, in my humble opinion, one thing that can improve a hot chocolate even more -- and that's whiskey.

Salted caramel whiskey delivers a full package of flavors that turns hot chocolate into a spiked drink that knocks others out of the water. Salt makes the chocolate richer and less bitter, while caramel flavor adds a pop of candy sweetness that elevates the hot drink. Whiskey, especially bourbon, can fold in vanilla, toffee, nut, fruit, and spice notes that add complexity and depth. Simply stir one to two ounces of salted caramel whiskey into your hot chocolate. A tablespoon or two of whipped cream also adds to this full-flavored hot drink that can negate the cold or serve as a decadent nightcap.

Salted Caramel Whiskey White Russian

whiskey white russian
whiskey white russian - Dmitriy Halacevich/Shutterstock

This next salted caramel whiskey spin on a popular cocktail is sure to be loved by Lebowskis of all sizes. The classic white Russian is a simple mixed cocktail comprising vodka, coffee liqueur, and heavy cream in a booze-forward yet dairy-softened short drink. When we substitute vodka for salted caramel whiskey, this drink gains the flavor combinations of our salted Irish Coffee, with the booziness of our salted caramel espresso martini, offering the best of both worlds.

The salted caramel whiskey changes a white Russian quite drastically, with whiskey being a much more flavorsome spirit than vodka. With a significant portion of the drink's volume comprising salted caramel whiskey, this is the driving flavor, complemented by the sweetness and coffee notes of the liqueur. The heavy cream rounds out the mouthfeel, suppresses the alcohol heat, and adds a luscious fattiness to host the salt and caramel flavors. If you desire the more noticeable presence of coffee liqueur you get in a classic white Russian, you can always add less salted caramel whiskey or more liqueur to suit your preference.

Salted Caramel Whiskey And Cream Soda

salted caramel whiskey cream soda
salted caramel whiskey cream soda - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Cream soda with an ounce or 2 of salted caramel whiskey is a simple mix, but one that works wonderfully. Cream soda is loosely based on the flavor of an ice cream float, with vanilla being the key descriptor. This makes cream soda an easy companion to most types of whiskey, especially those with notable oak-derived notes of vanilla. As it happens, vanilla and caramel are a decadent pair with a touch of salt further enriching their flavors. As a tall carbonated drink, a salted caramel whiskey and cream soda drink is sweet yet refreshing, but be warned, these go down a little bit too easily.

If you really want to hit this flavor combination home, why not go all-out with a salted caramel whiskey ice cream float? After mixing your salted caramel whiskey and cream soda over ice, top the whole affair with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream. Yes, this is one of the most indulgent ways to enjoy salted caramel whiskey, but isn't that the whole point?


caramel cocktail mess
caramel cocktail mess - Rimma Bondarenko/Shutterstock

I've been lucky enough to spend years of my professional life behind the bar or selling spirits. I'm also a major whiskey fan who loves a good experiment. Many of these recommendations are based on successful experiments I've done over the years, either with salted caramel whiskey or other similar combinations that conjure the same magic. In particular, playing around with flavored whiskeys led me to many delicious combinations that made the list, involving apple flavors, coffee notes, spice characters, and sourness. Putting this list together, I sought to find options to suit a wide range of flavor preferences, whether fruity, acidic, boozy, refreshing, or decadent. Even hot and cold choices were important to present.

Drinks were chosen for this list that genuinely work with salted caramel whiskey in new and exciting ways as described throughout the article, rather than simply being a tolerable substitution. Additional research has also been done to find specific mixes I haven't tried (such as the salted caramel whiskey hot apple cider) and to learn more about why the recommendations on this list work with salted caramel whiskey.

Read the original article on Tasting Table