8 Best Bourbon Cocktails to Impress Your Guests

Jun 20, 2023


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What’s better than having friends over for laughter and a night full of fun? When guests come over, you want to impress them with your unmatched hospitality. Give them a reason to come back by serving them the best bourbon cocktails. Serve these eight concoctions to make your friends think they’re at a bar with a professional mixologist. 

1. Old Fashioned

Let’s start with the classics. Ask a whiskey lover what the best bourbon cocktails are — the Old Fashioned will top many people’s lists. This classic cocktail originated in Louisville, Kentucky, nearly 150 years ago. It’s no surprise Kentucky is the birthplace of this legendary drink. Legend has it that James E. Pepper invented the cocktail around 1880. Since then, bourbon lovers have poured many Old Fashioneds to commemorate him. 

Making an Old Fashioned at home is easy. Add a teaspoon of sugar with Angostura bitters and a teaspoon of water into your glass. Dissolve the sugar in the water and add bourbon with ice. Shake it up until the drink chills. Strain your concoction into a new glass with fresh ice and garnish with an orange twist.

2. Mississippi Punch 

Let’s take a trip to the Magnolia State for a glass of Mississippi Punch. This cocktail first appears in an 1862 book for bartenders by Jerry Thomas. One hundred and sixty years later, the drink still packs a punch, combining three different liquors into one tasty cocktail. 

Make Mississippi Punch by combining an ounce of bourbon, an ounce of dark rum and two ounces of cognac. Top it with freshly squeezed lemon juice and two teaspoons of sugar to get a sweet punch with a strong alcoholic taste. Serve the Mississippi Punch alongside the ribs and street corn at your summer cookout. The cocktail is a perfect refresher for your guests.

3. Kentucky Maid

Let’s stay on the sweet and refreshing theme and return to the Bluegrass State for a Kentucky Maid. The cocktail has only been around since 2005, so it’s relatively new. If you like it, thank bartender Sam Ross for his contributions to the best bourbon cocktails on the market. 

The Kentucky Maid is famous for being refreshing. Put a few mint leaves in your shaker with two slices of cucumber, an ounce of simple syrup, bourbon, lime juice and ice. Shake it up and pour the drink into a new glass over fresh ice. Garnish with mint and serve it to your guests.   

4. Mint Julep

We can’t talk about Kentucky and cocktails without mentioning the Mint Julep and the Kentucky Derby. The legendary race has run for nearly 150 years, and the cocktail has been a part of horse racing for over a century. In 1850, Henry Clay brought the Mint Julep to Washington, and the rest is history.

Mint Juleps are great for impressing guests with the best bourbon cocktails that are easy to make. Add mint leaves and simple syrup to a glass and mix. Pour in fresh ice, two ounces of bourbon and a small amount of water. Top with more mint for garnishing, and enjoy!  

5. Manhattan

New Yorkers take a lot of pride in their pizza and bagels. The Manhattan is no exception. Legend has it a New Yorker invented the drink to commemorate presidential candidate Samuel Tilden, a fellow Big Apple resident. You can also see Manhattans in movies like “Some Like It Hot,” featuring Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis. 

Impress your guests with movie trivia and your bartending skills. Pour two ounces of bourbon into a glass with an ounce of vermouth. Add a few dashes of Angostura bitters and garnish with a cherry or lemon slice. The cocktail traditionally has rye whiskey, but bourbon adds sweetness and is excellent for parties. 

6. New York Sour

Let’s stay in the city that never sleeps and have a New York Sour. This cocktail differs from the traditional Whiskey Sour because it has red wine. The New York Sour joins the many other cocktails that arose in the late 19th century. There’s no verification on who invented the drink, but it’s a drink many New Yorkers and others worldwide enjoy. 

First, you’ll need to get the typical Whiskey Sour ingredients: two ounces of bourbon, an ounce of lemon juice, an egg white and an ounce of simple syrup. Add these ingredients plus ice into a shaker and mix them well. Strain your drink over fresh ice and pour red wine on top. You’ll see colors almost representing a sunset, with red on top and orange and yellow toward the bottom. 

7. Boulevardier

We’re almost at the 100th birthday of the Boulevardier — a cocktail invented in 1927 by Harry McElhone. He owned a New York bar in Paris to escape America’s strict prohibition laws of the progressive movement. In Paris, McElhone developed one of the best bourbon cocktails at the bar. 

For homemade Boulevardiers, start with an ounce and a quarter of bourbon with an ounce of Campari and sweet vermouth. The last two ingredients add to the drink’s spicy, bitter and sweet profile. Combine all the ingredients in a mixer with ice and shake until chilled. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with an orange peel. 

8. Bourbon Eggnog

Christmas parties are some of the most fun you’ll have with guests. Gather your friends and family around for Secret Santa, funny holiday movies and holiday cheer. How can you impress your guests with the food and drinks? Start impressing your guests with prime rib and gingerbread cookies. Then serve Bourbon Eggnog as a tasty nightcap.

Start with about five ounces of eggnog with one ounce of bourbon. Mix them in a cold glass and top them with cinnamon and nutmeg. This creamy, alcoholic drink is perfect for the holiday fun while watching “Home Alone” or “Die Hard.”

The Best Bourbon Cocktails for Parties

Your friends will appreciate drinks at the bar, but you can impress them more by making drinks at home. Test your mixology skills and make these eight best bourbon cocktails. Bourbon has a long history in the U.S. with our history and pop culture, so impress your friends with your knowledge and bartending skills. 

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Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.