Fireball Whisky Review + The Best Fireball Cocktails for Every Season

Fireball: the cinnamon whisky that reportedly “Tastes like heaven. Burns like hell.” In fact, it does neither of those things.  When and why you should buy Fireball is debatable. But if you do happen to find yourself saddled with a bottle, at least you can mix it in a cocktail!

(Seriously, look below for some extra yummy cocktails! But I don’t recommend sipping Fireball on the rocks while relaxing by the fireside.)

Quick Review of Fireball

  • Cinnamon flavored whisky good for mixing in cocktails for extra kick
  • Originally a Canadian product
  • Made with Canadian whisky as the base
  • Low alcohol content at only 33% ABV, 66 proof
  • Main flavor profile is cinnamon candy
  • Doesn’t taste much like classic whisky
  • Pairs well with apples, pears, and chocolate

About Fireball

I maintain that the only reason a mature adult should ever buy Fireball is to put it in a Christmas Cocktail. If you’re out drinking Fireball on the rocks at the local bar, you probably need to mature about 15 years and regrow some taste buds. (But if that’s your thing, carry on! Plenty of the world operates without taste!)

Fireball’s origin story involves a Canadian bartender who figured he’d warm up faster if he added cinnamon to his drink. Personally I think it’s more likely someone was eating Hot Tamales, sipping a bottle of Everclear and suddenly thought “This is how I make my millions.”

The truth is, Fireball was part of Seagram’s flavored schnapps line. (Remember when schnapps was all the rage?) 

Then liquor conglomerate Sazerac bought it in the 1980s and until 2012 it was a relatively unknown Canadian liquor called “Dr. McGillicuddy’s Fireball Whisky.” 

But thanks to Sazerac’s huge marketing campaign in the 2000s, Fireball has soared in popularity. It’s now one of the most popular selling brands in the United States. You can find it in any liquor store and any bar around. Usually being consumed by crowds of college kids shouting “shots!” and tripping over bar stools.

Is Fireball a Whisky?

fireball

That’s a very good question and if I didn’t have Sazerac’s information from their website, I’m not sure I could answer it on taste alone. The Sazerac company is based in Louisiana which means, by rights, they should be using “whiskey” with an “e.”

However, Fireball’s base alcohol is from Canada where they’ve dropped the “e.” Apparently this gives Fireball the right to market itself with the UK spelling of whisky and confuse everyone into thinking it’s good. Canadian whisky is usually made with a corn and rye mash bill. So in general their whisky is soft and approachable with a sudden spicy kick.

Fireball is too Low Proof to Technically be Whisky

To really identify Fireball, we need to understand one of the key rules about whisky (or whiskey) production. Most whiskeys are bottled at around 40-50% ABV and up to 80% ABV. (Some specialty scotches are as high as 92% ABV!) America and Canada both have a minimum bottling requirement of 80 proof or 40% ABV.

Fireball is bottled at 66 proof or 33% ABV. This means that in both America and Canada, Fireball is not legally a whisky. Instead it’s more along the lines of a flavored distilled liquor.

Fireball Taste Test

So, how does the King of the Frat Party stand up in a classic taste test? Not well. I’d rate it a 5, for the number of times I gagged trying to muscle this stuff down. 

The company recommends it be served chilled. But even with ice it just tastes like someone distilled Hot Tamales in their basement and added rubbing alcohol for a kick.

I’ve always believed whisky should be enjoyed, savored, and appreciated for all the subtle flavors you find buried in a glass.

This just tastes like cinnamon candy. There isn’t much “whisky” character to it at all. And not much to taste or savor either. Look below for a minute-by-minute assessment of my tasting experience! I’ve marked the gags for your convenience. 

Eye

Deep burnt orange with auburn hue.

Nose without Water 

Hm, okay. Cinnamon candies. Not bad, very Christmassy. Wait..antiseptic (and not in the good, medicinal-peat way). Now we’re at a chemical plant. And, oh no, is that rubbing alcohol? *gag*

Palate without Water

Hot cinnamon candies, cinnamon syrup, *gag* menthol back taste with bitter sweet burnt sugar. *gag* Is this whisky or just syrup?

Nose with Ice 

Sweet Cinnamon. And that’s about it. Not unpleasant.

Palate with Ice

Sticky sweet cinnamon candy *gag,* slightly hot cinnamon comes in the mid palate, but it still ends on that sickly sweet syrupy taste that makes me *gag* again.

So now that you know drinking this swill alone is utterly pointless, let’s talk about what you can do with that giant bottle you’ve got leftover from your last house party.

How to Pair Fireball in Cocktails

Fireball has a whole slew of cocktail recipes on their website. (Who thought the Firebagel was a good idea?! And are they hiring..?)

The first key in making any cocktail is finding alcohol or beverage you actually enjoy drinking. Make that your base. Then think about things that go well with cinnamon. 

Fall and Winter Fireball Drinks

To me, cinnamon means fall and Christmas and cozy cocktails. So that’s obviously apples, pears, chocolate, and caramel.

Caramel Apple Bourbon

caramel apple cocktail

Makes: 2 Servings

  • ¼ cup Fireball
  • ¾ cup fresh apple cider
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • 2 oz. Bailey’s Salted Caramel
  • Garnish: fresh apples and cinnamon sticks

How to Make It

  • Combine ½ of all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly to mix. Pour through a strainer into a tumbler over ice. Garnish with apple slices and a cinnamon stick.
  • Repeat for the second glass.

Hot Buttered Whisky

fireball cocktail with ciamon

A twist on a classic Christmas cocktail, this Hot Buttered Whisky has extra spicy cinnamon to warm you up!

Makes: 1 serving

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 oz. Fireball
  • 1 oz. Whiskey or Bourbon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp cloves
  • ⅛ tsp allspice

How to Make It

  • Prepare the Butter Batter: Combine the butter, sugar, and spices in a bowl. Mix with an egg beater on low speed until fully incorporated. Set aside 2 tbsp for your beverage. Store the rest, wrapped in plastic wrap or in a sealed tupperware, for up to 3 months.
  • Place your batter, Fireball, and whiskey of your choice in a mug. Pour 1 cup hot water in and stir. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve immediately!

Spring and Summer Fireball Drinks

But cinnamon also goes with summer flavors like French toast, bananas, blueberries, and peaches.

Hot Blueberry Cobbler Cocktail

Blueberries and vanilla and just a bit of spicy cinnamon make for a refreshing summer cocktail!

Makes: 2 servings

  • 2 oz. Fireball
  • 2 oz. vanilla vodka
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp honey
  • Garnish: fresh blueberries and a cinnamon stick

How to Make It

  • In a bowl, smash your blueberries gently with a fork. Add the smashed blueberries, water, and honey to a medium saucepan. 
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Pour through a strainer into a mason jar and allow the blueberry juice to chill.
  • Divide the blueberry juice into two glasses. Add ice cubes to preference. Pour 1 oz. Fireball, and 1 oz. vanilla vodka into each glass. Stir. Drizzle remaining honey on top. Garnish and serve.

Flaming Frozen Peach Margarita

frozen margarita

It’s frozen, but it’s spicy hot! This creamy peach margarita is the perfect twist on a summer classic.

Makes: 2 servings

  • 4 cups frozen peaches
  • 1 cup ice
  • ¾ cup tequila
  • ¼ cup Fireball
  • ¼ cup triple sec
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Garnish: fresh peach slices

How to Make It

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. If too thick, add a quick splash of triple sec.
  • Serve in margarita glasses and garnish with fresh peach slices

Fireball Food Pairings

But why stop there! Fireball can also be used as a cooking liqueur for food. Use it to add a bit of fiery cinnamon in either sweet or savory recipes.

Fireball Ginger Truffles

truffles

These little no-bake treats are perfect for holiday parties!

Makes: 2 dozen

  • 3 tbsp Fireball Whisky
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 package ginger snap cookies
  • 1 6-oz package of cream cheese
  • 1 package chocolate chips

How to Make It

  • Crush the cookies and place into a food processor with the cream cheese. Pulse until combined.
  • Add in the Fireball. Pulse again to combine.
  • Form the ginger snap mixture into balls using a melon baller or tablespoon. Place into the freezer for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler. (Alternatively, use a microwave in 30-second intervals. Stirring between until fully melted.)
  • Drop each ginger ball into the melted chocolate and cover. Let rest on a cooling rack to harden slightly. When all truffles are covered, place them in the freezer for another hour.
  • Store in the freezer. Allow to defrost for 10 minutes before serving!

Fiery Cinnamon Barbecue Sauce

barbecue sauce

Homemade barbecue sauce with a fiery cinnamon kick!

Makes: approx. 1 ½ cups

  • ¼ cup Fireball
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

How to Make It

  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
  • Simmer at medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes to ensure it doesn’t stick.
  • Serve immediately or store, covered, in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Alternatives to Fireball

Fireball’s success means there’s been a surge of cinnamon-flavored whiskies. And even your top brands are getting on the bandwagon.

So if you’re interested in cinnamon whisky but aren’t swayed by my glowing review of Fireball, try one of these instead!

Evan Williams Fire

evan williams fire

Very little burn here, but you still get a candy-sweet flavor. Thankfully with more of a caramel aftertaste than the menthol version in Fireball.

Jim Beam Kentucky Fire

stillhouse whiskey

Rye flavor with a powerful cinnamon burn.

Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire

jack daniels fire

When Fireball says it “burns like hell,” this is what they actually meant. What a kick!

Stillhouse Red Hot Whiskey

stillhouse whiskey

Corn whisky with vanilla and cinnamon bark infused means you can actually savor the flavors in this glass.

FAQs About Fireball

Is there real cinnamon in Fireball Whisky?

According to Fireball’s website, yes. They use “real, natural cinnamon.” Still tastes like candy though.

How to serve Fireball Whisky?

The best way to use Fireball is in a cocktail. (See above for cocktails for all seasons!) However, Fireball is also popular as a shot. And some prefer it served over ice.

What mixers pair with Fireball?

If you’re not up for a full blown cocktail but you want something else with your cinnamon try: coffee, coke, ginger beer, ginger ale, apple cider, orange juice, or hot chocolate.

Is Fireball made with antifreeze?

There’s a rumor going around that Fireball includes an ingredient commonly found in antifreeze. Propylene glycol is a chemical used in antifreeze products. In food and drinks, it’s used as a preservative in very tiny amounts. (You’ll see it in ice creams, cake mixes, and packaged dried foods.)
European markets deemed the amount of propylene glycol in Fireball and it was recalled. Sazerac has since updated their preservative formula and no longer use any PG according to Fireball’s website.

So, is Fireball Whisky Worth the Hype?

Yes and no. As a shot or casual sipper, I’d avoid it if at all possible. (Unless you enjoy syrupy menthol flavor. Then more power to you!) But Fireball adds a delicious cinnamon kick to cocktails and food recipes if you’re inclined. It also acts as a sweetener, which gives you an idea of why it’s not so good to drink.

Feel free to use your bottle of Fireball however you choose: shots, cocktails, truffles, or to unclog the kitchen sink. As the bottle says “what happens next is up to you!”

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Kathryn Loveless

Kathryn Loveless is a freelance writer for hire who delights in all things delectable. You can find her perfecting a roast chicken recipe, hunting down a new bottle of scotch, or hosting a wine and cheese soirée somewhere in New York. My passion for Scotch started in college when my conniving parents gave me their best whisky for my "first taste." Needless to say, the stuff my friends had at school didn't compare. They had a joke "If Kathryn comes to a party, you need a whiskey that's over $40." My first job in NYC was hosting several fine-dining establishments where I learned everything I could from bartenders and mixologists. Now that I work in writing and development full-time, I continue my education in classes around the city and explore the newest whiskeys on the market. (Still trying to find a bottle of Compass Box No Name if you have any leads...) Newest in my collection: Compass Box Peat Monster and Port Charlotte Islay Single Malt (I love peat if you can't tell.) Most interesting thing on the market right now: Japanese whisky! (No "e" since much of the trade was learned in Scotland.)

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