5 Country Music Inspired Cocktails to Get Your Cowboy Boots Knockin’

Country music is notorious for lamenting about late nights, bottles of whisk(e)y, and back-porch beers.

And while Tennessee Whiskies and Bourbons tend to take centre stage in many country songs, up here in the true north strong and free there’s some pretty great Canadian Whiskies to sip on (that don’t have a newly instilled 10 per cent tariff on them).

Call us nationalistic, but with the Canadian Country Music Awards coming up this month, we’re trading in our Bourbon for local whisky — you know, the ones spelled without the “e.”

So whether you’re getting gussied up to see the CCMAs in person (in Hamilton, Ontario), grabbing your boots and hat and heading down to the local honky-tonk to watch on the big screen, or streaming CBC Music on your laptop at home, we reckon you’ll have a hankerin’ for a great drink and we’ve got you covered, sugar.

For those of you who are thinking “you’re crazy, I can’t drink straight whisky”, you need not worry. We’ve concocted five whisky-based cocktails for you to try which are inspired by the CCMA “Song of the Year” nominees.

And for those of you who do like your whisky straight, order like you would at Timmys — a double-double.


The Side Effect

Dallas Smith may be singing about a lady in his song “Side Effects” but his verses, “your touch should have a red light, there’s a hard crash comin’ in the morning” is definitely applicable to this drink. Easy to make and even easier to drink, you’ll be feeling the side effects of this cocktail if you have more than one.

45 ml Canadian Whisky
15 ml Amaro Averna
15 ml IPA Beer Syrup*
30 ml Lemon Juice

Garnish: Amarena Cherries (or any cherries!)

In a cocktail shaker add the ingredients above and ice. Shake until chilled and double strain into a coupe or 5 oz glass. Garnish with cherries.

*IPA Syrup: Add one bottle/can of your favourite India Pale Ale beer and 200g of sugar together on low heat. Let simmer for approximately 20 minutes until reduced by a quarter of the volume. Cool and keep refrigerated for up to one month.

Sweet When He Said My Name

Inspired by Meghan Fitzpatrick’s “Country Music Made Me Do It” this cocktail possesses the second whisky and beer combination on this list. If you’ve ever had a Radler before (a combination of fruit juice and beer), this drink will definitely be for you. In verse two, Fitzpatrick sings about a man who she fell for because he talked a real good game and it was sweet when he said her name.

This cocktail, “Sweet When He Said My Name” gets its sweetness from fresh grapefruit juice and Aperol. However, add in the IPA beer and you’re hit with a slight bitterness — sort of like the mood of the song (spoiler alert: it didn’t workout between Meghan and the guy in this song).

45 ml Canadian Whisky
30 ml Aperol
60 ml Grapefruit Juice
120 ml IPA Beer

Garnish: Grapefruit Twist

In a wine glass (or large glass) add ice and the ingredients above. Stir to incorporate ingredients. Express oils from grapefruit twist over the drink.

High Beam Caesar

Hail Caesar! The drink, that is. Invented by Walter Chell at the Calgary Inn back in the 1960’s, this savoury drink typically contains Clamato Juice (a mixture of clam juice, tomato juice, and other ingredients), vodka, celery salt, Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco.

After having the opportunity to speak with Jess Moskaluke, she noted that one of her favourite drinks was a Caesar with whisky. The recipe below is a take on a caesar that adds a Miso Orange Lime Chili Sauce for added spice and savouriness and beer for a bit of effervescence (like a Michelada).

In Moskaluke’s song “Drive Me Away” she asks to be loaded up in a get away truck, follow the high beams, and chase the sun into darkness. Whether you consider it high beam or high brow, this recipe is packed with flavour and takes the baesar (beer caesar) to a new high.

45 ml Canadian Whisky (Jess loves Forty Creek)
45 ml Miso Orange Lime Chili Sauce**
90 ml Clamato
90 ml Pilsner or Lager

Garnish: Lime Wheel

In a 12 oz (or larger) glass, add together the ingredients above with ice. Stir to incorporate and enjoy. Feel free to add your favourite caesar rim to this drink, however the miso orange lime chili sauce is quite salty already!

**Mix together one heaping teaspoon of white miso, 60 ml lime juice, 90 ml orange juice and 1 teaspoon chili powder. Keep it refrigerated for up to a week.

Lonely Vieux

Aaron Goodvin claims he doesn’t “plan on staying sober” in his nominated song “Lonely Drum.” After knocking back a few of these drinks you may not be either!

If you’re a fan of a Vieux Carre cocktail this is the drink for you. A classic Vieux Carre incorporates equal parts Rye Whisk(e)y, Cognac, and Sweet Vermouth with a barspoon of Benedictine and both Peychauds and Angostura bitters. This version, the Lonely Vieux, substitutes Cognac for smoky Mezcal and the Benedictine and bitters for Green Chartreuse (an intense herbal liqueur) to make a spirit forward, smoky, and herbaceous cocktail that is meant to be sipped slowly — especially when you’re banging on your lonely drum.

25 ml Canadian Whisky
25 ml Mezcal
25 ml Sweet Vermouth
10 ml Green Chartreuse

Garnish: Lemon Twist

In a mixing glass add the ingredients above and ice. Stir until diluted and chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Express lemon oils from the peel over the drink and enjoy.

Skip the Line

It’s a Friday night and you’re planning on painting the town red with your friends because all you want to do is dance. The bad news is, there’s a line-up around the block. Would it be great if you could just skip the line like they do in the James Barker Band song “Chills”?

This cocktail, called “Skip the Line”, is certain to give you chills because it’s just so darn tasty. Similar to the “Side Effect” this cocktail is bittersweet, boozy and a crowd pleaser. Does anyone else enjoy having drinks and getting ready with your friends more than actually going out? Or is that just us? Try this recipe during your next pre-gaming session and you may just be on our side.

30 ml Canadian Whisky
22.5 ml Luxardo Bitter Bianco
22.5 ml Cointreau
30 ml Lime

Garnish: Orange Zest

In a cocktail shaker add the ingredients above and ice. Shake until chilled and double strain into a coupe or 5 oz glass.