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Bourbon Cocktails

Bourbon Cocktails: You Can't-Miss These

Written by Emma C | Updated May 2023

Bourbon, the quintessential American whiskey, holds a special place in the hearts of many connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. Revered for its distinctively rich and smooth flavor profile, bourbon has earned its reputation as a timeless classic among spirits. While it's often savored neat or with a simple splash of water or ice to unlock its full character, bourbon's versatility extends far beyond solitary sipping. The spirit's natural sweetness, depth, and complexity harmonize seamlessly with various ingredients, lending itself to a wide array of cocktail creations that cater to different tastes and occasions. We'll explore some of the best bourbon cocktails and provide bottle recommendations that are available now in our bottle shop for making them at home.

Bourbon Basics

Before we dive into the cocktails, let's start with some bourbon basics. Bourbon is a type of whiskey that is made primarily from corn and aged in new, charred oak barrels. It must be produced in the United States to be considered bourbon, and it must be aged for at least two years to be considered straight bourbon. Bourbon has a rich, sweet flavor that is often described as caramel or vanilla.

Bourbon Cocktails

Here are the recipes for the cocktails you requested, along with a recommended bottle of whiskey for each one available in our online bottle shop:

1. Gold Rush
Ingredients:
  • 2 oz bourbon whiskey
  • 3/4 oz honey syrup (1:1 honey and hot water)
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Bottle Recommendation
Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Buffalo Trace Bourbon

For over 200 years, our Distillery has been defined by a dedication to one craft: making fine bourbon whiskey. By honoring tradition and embracing change, Buffalo Trace Distillery has earned its place of leadership among the legendary spirits makers of the world. Take a look at this time honored craft from start to finish.

Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Brown Sugar, Spice, Oak, Toffee, Dark Fruit, Anise | ABV: 45%

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2. Mint Julep
Ingredients:
  • 2 oz bourbon whiskey
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 6-8 mint leaves
Instructions:

Add mint leaves and simple syrup to a julep cup or rocks glass. Muddle gently to release the mint oils. Add crushed ice and bourbon, and stir until the glass frosts over. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Bottle Recommendation
Maker's Mark Bourbon
Maker's Mark Bourbon

This one changed the way we think of bourbon, all because one man changed the way he thought about making it. Bill Samuels, Sr., simply wanted a whisky he would enjoy drinking. Never bitter or sharp, Maker's Mark® is made with soft red winter wheat, instead of the usual rye, for a one-of-a-kind, full-flavored bourbon that's easy to drink. To ensure consistency, we rotate every barrel by hand and age our bourbon to taste, not time. Each and every bottle of Maker's® is still hand-dipped in our signature red wax at our distillery in Loretto, Ky., just like Bill, Sr., would have wanted.

Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Oak, Vanilla, Fruit | ABV: 45%

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3. Old Fashioned
Ingredients:
  • 2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 orange peel
Instructions:

Add simple syrup and bitters to a rocks glass. Add ice and whiskey, and stir until chilled. Express the oils from the orange peel over the drink, and garnish with the peel.

Bottle Recommendation
Bulleit Bourbon
Bulleit Bourbon

Bulleit Bourbon is inspired by the whiskey pioneered by an old family recipe over 150 years ago. Only ingredients of the very highest quality are used. The subtlety and complexity of Bulleit Bourbon come from its unique blend of rye, corn, and barley malt, along with special strains of yeast and pure Kentucky limestone filtered water. Due to its especially high rye content, Bulleit Bourbon has a bold, spicy character with a finish that's distinctively clean and smooth.

Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Honey, Vanilla, Licorice, Fruit, Roasted Oak | ABV: 45%

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Ingredients:
  • 2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 egg white (optional)
Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a shaker without ice and shake vigorously to emulsify the egg white (if using). Add ice to the shaker and shake again to chill. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.

Bottle Recommendation
Woodford Reserve Bourbon
Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Woodford Reserve is built around flavor. The art of making fine bourbon first took place on the site of the Woodford Reserve Distillery, a National Historic Landmark, in 1812. The perfectly balanced taste of our Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is composed of more than 200 detectable flavor notes, from bold grain and wood, to sweet aromatics, spice, and fruit & floral notes.

Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Citrus, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Toffee, Caramel, Spice | ABV: 45.2%

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5. Kentucky Mule
Ingredients:
  • 2 oz bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 4 oz ginger beer
Instructions:

Add bourbon and lime juice to a copper mug or highball glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer and stir gently.

Bottle Recommendation
Evan Williams Single Barrel

Evan Williams Single Barrel is the only vintage dated single barrel Bourbon on the market. Similar to the way vintage wines are selected, our distillers hand-select individual barrels that meet the specifications they've established. Then each bottle is marked with the vintage date it was put into oak, along with the year it was bottled and the exact barrel number of the single barrel that the Bourbon was drawn from.

Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Honey, Vanilla, Nut, Baked Fruit | ABV: 43.3%

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6. Maple Bourbon Smash
Ingredients:
  • 2 oz bourbon whiskey
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz maple syrup
  • 4-5 mint leaves
Instructions:

Add mint leaves and maple syrup to a shaker and muddle gently. Add bourbon and lemon juice, and shake with ice. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice.

Bottle Recommendation
Knob Creek Bourbon
Knob Creek Bourbon

When it comes to making Knob Creek Bourbon, there's a lot of waiting but hardly any sitting around. While each barrel patiently ages in white oak, our distillers continue to raise the standards, fulfilling their commitment to full flavor. The result? An unflinching balance of deep, pre-Prohibition-style bourbon with a robust oak taste, complemented with hints of smooth vanilla and layered caramel.

Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Maple, Oak | ABV: 50%

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7. Manhattan
Ingredients:
  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 cherry (optional)
Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.

Bottle Recommendation
Rittenhouse Rye

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky has a storied past with a heritage that commemorates Philadelphia's famous Rittenhouse Square. Today's Rittenhouse is bottled-in-bond and brings the distinct, spicy flavor long associated with the brand. The spirit offers sweet, herbal aromas of licorice, honey, dill, malt, rye, oak, dried fruit, and cinnamon. Flavors are similar, followed by a dry yet partially sweet, evolving finish.

Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Honey, Licorice, Oak | ABV: 50%

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8. New York Sour
Ingredients:
  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz red wine
Instructions:

Add rye whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Carefully pour the red wine over the back of a spoon so it floats on top of the drink.

Bottle Recommendation
Bulleit Rye
Bulleit Rye

Bulleit Rye is an award-winning, straight rye whiskey with a character of unparalleled spice and complexity. Released in 2011, it continues to enjoy recognition as one of the highest quality ryes available.

Region: Indiana | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Honey, Spice | ABV: 45%

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9. Bourbon Sidecar
Ingredients:
  • 2 oz bourbon whiskey
  • 1 oz Cointreau or triple sec
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass with a sugared rim.

Bottle Recommendation
Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

If you’ve ever wanted proof that mingling Bourbons is an art unto itself, you’ll find it in this perfectly balanced, Small Batch Bourbon. Four original Bourbon recipes have been expertly selected by our Master Distiller at the peak of maturation to create this very mellow and perfectly balanced Bourbon. You can enjoy it best straight up, on the rocks, or simply with a splash of your favorite mixer. 90 proof. 45% alcohol/volume.

Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Dark Fruit, Cinnamon, Peppercorn, Rye | ABV: 45%

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Bourbon cocktails are a great way to enjoy this classic American whiskey. From the Old Fashioned to the Mint Julep and the Boulevardier, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from. When making bourbon cocktails, it's important to use high-quality bourbon to ensure the best possible flavor. Try using the bottle recommendations provided above to make the perfect bourbon cocktails at home. Cheers!

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