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14 Essential Bourbon Cocktails Everyone Should Know

by Jim Passantino March 03, 2023 7 min read

14 Essential Bourbon Cocktails Everyone Should Know

As the sun sets over the rolling hills of Kentucky, the rich aroma of bourbon fills the air. The amber liquid, aged to perfection in oak barrels, beckons to be sipped and savored. But why settle for a simple pour when you can indulge in the myriad of flavors that come with a perfectly crafted bourbon cocktail?

From a classic Old Fashioned to innovative twists on the Manhattan, these 14 essential bourbon cocktails are the epitome of sophisticated sipping. So, don your finest attire, grab your shaker, and get ready to impress with these must-know recipes. These cocktails are not just drinks, they are a statement of taste, refinement, and style.

Get ready to elevate your cocktail game to new heights with these essential bourbon recipes that will leave your taste buds begging for more.

1) Old Fashioned

Ahh... the timeless drink that's been in the game for over two centuries. The Old Fashioned is the real OG cocktail that's both a no-brainer and a showstopper, letting the bourbon do all the talking with each sip. This legendary libation is a must-try for any sophisticated sipper looking to add some class to their glass. Trust us, this isn't your average fruity concoction; it's the real deal.

To craft your own Old Fashioned, start by muddling a sugar cube with a few dashes of bitters and a splash of water in a rocks glass. Then, add ice and 2 ounces of bourbon. Stir gently and garnish with an orange twist and a cherry.

Try it smoked using one of our cocktail smokers and our Smoked Old Fashioned Recipe

2) Manhattan

Give your taste buds a treat with the iconic Manhattan cocktail - the go-to drink for any occasion! This timeless elixir is a blend of bourbon, sweet vermouth, and a hint of bitters, resulting in a flavor explosion that'll leave you wanting more.

Whipping up a Manhattan is a breeze - just combine 2 ounces of your favorite bourbon, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth, and a dash of bitters in a mixing glass filled to the brim with ice. Give it a good stir, then strain into a frosty cocktail glass. And don't forget to top it off with a juicy cherry garnish for that perfect finishing touch.

Try it smoked using our Smoked Manhattan Recipe

3) Mint Julep

Are you looking for a drink that can transform your day and transport you to a warm summer afternoon? They say life couldn't get any better than sipping on a refreshing Mint Julep. Have you ever tried this Southern classic cocktail that's easy-to-make and bursting with sweet and minty flavors? Now is the perfect time to indulge in this tantalizing drink.

To whip up this delightful drink, start by muddling a handful of fresh mint leaves and a dash of simple syrup in a rocks glass. Once you've infused the flavors, fill the glass with crushed ice and add a generous pour of 2 1/2 ounces of your favorite bourbon.

Give it a good stir, then top it off with a sprig of fresh mint to elevate its presentation. Trust us, this Mint Julep will transport your taste buds to a place of pure bliss, leaving you feeling refreshed and invigorated.

4) Whiskey Sour

Life couldn't get any better than sipping on a timeless classic, the Whiskey Sour, that has stood the test of time for over a century. This beauty of a drink is not only easy on the eyes, but it's also a delightful mix of bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup that will tantalize your taste buds with its perfect balance of sweet and sour notes. Now, if you want to take your taste buds on an adventure, here's how you can create this masterpiece at home.

Take a shaker, fill it with ice, and combine 2 ounces of bourbon, 3/4 ounce of fresh lemon juice, and 1/2 ounce of simple syrup. Shake vigorously and strain it into a rocks glass that's also filled with ice. Finally, add a cherry and a slice of lemon for that Instagram-worthy finishing touch. Cheers to good company and great drinks!

5) Boulevardier

The Boulevardier is a bold and complex cocktail that's perfect for the adventurous drinker. This drink is made with bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth, resulting in a bitter yet delicious flavor profile that's sure to impress. To make a Boulevardier, combine 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon, 3/4 ounce of Campari, and 3/4 ounce of sweet vermouth in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

6) Kentucky Mule

Have you tried the Kentucky Mule yet? It's like the Moscow Mule's edgy, bourbon-loving cousin. And boy, does it know how to bring the refreshment! This drink's a no-brainer for any occasion, whether you're lounging at home or hosting a rooftop bash.

To whip up this bad boy, grab a copper mug, fill it up with ice, and pour in 2 ounces of your favorite bourbon. Don't skimp, now! Then, top it off with 4 ounces of zesty ginger beer and squeeze in the juice of half a lime. Give it a good stir, and voila - you've got yourself a Kentucky Mule! Oh, and don't forget to garnish it with a lime wedge, because we all know presentation is everything. Cheers!

7) Rusty Nail

If you're looking for a timeless tipple to warm you up on a chilly evening, look no further than the Rusty Nail. This Scotch-based libation has been quenching thirsts for decades, but did you know you can also swap in bourbon for a twist on the classic?

To make this delectable drink, grab a mixing glass and add 2 ounces of your preferred bourbon, plus a 1/2 ounce of Drambuie for a touch of sweetness and spice. Give it a good stir with some ice and strain it into a rocks glass filled with more ice. For an extra pop of flavor and style, garnish with a twist of lemon.

Sipping on a Rusty Nail is like snuggling up under a cozy blanket - comforting and satisfying. So go ahead, mix one up and let the good times roll!

8) Lynchburg Lemonade

The Lynchburg Lemonade is a refreshing and easy-to-make cocktail that's perfect for a summer day. This drink is made with bourbon, triple sec, lemon juice, and lemon-lime soda, resulting in a sweet and citrusy flavor that's sure to please. To make a Lynchburg Lemonade, combine 2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of triple sec, 1 ounce of lemon juice, and 4 ounces of lemon-lime soda in a highball glass filled with ice. Stir well and garnish with a slice of lemon.

9) Brown Derby

Being a cocktail connoisseur, you wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to experience the golden age of cocktails with the timeless Brown Derby cocktail. This classy concoction from the 1930s will teleport you back in time with its impeccable blend of tangy and sweet flavors. The Brown Derby is the perfect marriage of grapefruit juice, honey syrup, and, of course, the smoothness of bourbon.

To whip up this sophisticated sipper, grab 2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of fresh grapefruit juice, and ½ ounce of honey syrup, and toss them into a shaker filled with ice. Give it a vigorous shake, then strain it into a chilled cocktail glass. Finish it off with a garnish of grapefruit twist, and voila! You're ready to bask in the retro vibes of this delicious cocktail.

10) Paper Plane

Looking for a modern twist on a classic bourbon cocktail? Look no further than the Paper Plane. This delicious drink is a contemporary creation that packs a punch with equal parts bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino, and lemon juice.

To make your own, simply shake together ¾ ounce of bourbon, ¾ ounce of Aperol, ¾ ounce of Amaro Nonino, and ¾ ounce of lemon juice in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist for a pop of color.

11) Godfather

If you're a fan of the classic whisky and cola combo, you'll love the Godfather cocktail. This simple but satisfying drink is a mix of bourbon and amaretto, resulting in a sweet and nutty flavor profile that's hard to resist. To make your own, combine 2 ounces of bourbon and ½ ounce of amaretto in a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir gently, then garnish with a lemon twist or cherry.

12) Sazerac

Originating in New Orleans, the Sazerac is a beloved bourbon cocktail that's been around for over a century. This unique drink is made with rye whiskey, absinthe, and bitters, but can easily be adapted to feature bourbon instead. To make your own, muddle a sugar cube with a few dashes of bitters in a rocks glass. Add ice, 2 ounces of bourbon, and a splash of absinthe, then stir well. Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy the rich, complex flavors.

13) Blood and Sand

If you're in the mood for something fruity, the Blood and Sand is the perfect choice. This vibrant cocktail features equal parts bourbon, sweet vermouth, cherry liqueur, and orange juice, resulting in a bold and flavorful drink that's sure to please. To make your own, shake together ¾ ounce of bourbon, ¾ ounce of sweet vermouth, ¾ ounce of cherry liqueur, and ¾ ounce of orange juice in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry or orange slice.

14) Hot Toddy

Are you feeling a bit down or in the mood for a comforting beverage? Look no further than the classic Hot Toddy, a delightful pick-me-up that's sure to warm your soul. This cozy cocktail is made with the finest bourbon, hot water, honey, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, culminating in a delicious and comforting beverage that's simply perfect for those chilly evenings.

Whip up your own concoction by mixing 2 ounces of bourbon, a tablespoon of honey, and ½ an ounce of lemon juice in a mug. Pour in some hot water and give it a good stir until the honey is completely dissolved. And for that extra touch of class, add a slice of lemon and savor the soothing flavors of this timeless beverage.

The Conclusion

There are so many ways to enjoy bourbon, whether you're new to drinking or a true connoisseur. It's versatile and can be enjoyed in a variety of cocktails and mixed drinks. Whether you're looking for a classic drink or something new, these recipes will help you find your favorite way to enjoy America's native spirit.



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