Question: Is it okay to make kiddush on whisky or beer?
Answer: Certainly on Friday night, when kiddush is d’oraisa, one must make kiddush on wine (or grape juice). If one has no wine, one must recite kiddush over his challa (Shulchan Aruch OC 272:9).
On Shabbos morning, when kiddush is d’rabannan, the rules are relaxed somewhat:
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 289:2) writes that when one doesn't have wine one may use Chamar Medinah, popular beverages. This includes whisky and other liquors (See Igros Moshe OC 2:75). While the Shulchan Aruch (OC 272:9) includes beer in this category, the Mishna Berura (272:24) writes that this only applies where beer is commonly drunk (See Machazeh Eliyahu 34 regarding tea and coffee).
Even when wine is available, many have the custom to recite kiddush on a shot of whisky. While some Poskim (Mateh Ephraim 625:99, Minchas Yitzchak 10:22) defend this practice, others (see Aruch Hashulchan OC 272:13) disapprove. The Mishna Berura (272:30) writes that while it is certainly best to use wine, it is okay to use other drinks when wine is more expensive and drunk less. R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 3:26; 5:32) explains that people used to drink wine much more than water. Nowadays, however, wine is not drunk quite as much, hence the hetter to use other beverages.
While the Magen Avraham (OC 190) and Mishna Berura (272:31) write that one who does make kiddush on whisky should use a cup that holds a revi’is and drink melo lugmav, a cheekful (at least 1.6oz), others hold that one may use a shot glass (See Taz OC 210:1, Teshuvos Chasam Sofer 49). R’ Tzvi Pesach Frank (Har Tzvi OC 1:159) points out that one who relies on this should say Borei Nefashos afterwards, even if they have not drunk a revi’is.