6 Best Bourbon Cocktails

Man drinking a bourbon cocktail.

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Bourbon is a special kind of whiskey that has strong notes of vanilla, oak and caramel and a smooth finish you just can’t beat. Thus, it lends itself well to a plethora of cocktails. However, it’s up to you to discover your favorite. Mix up a few of these delicious drinks this weekend to experience a few different flavor combos and sharpen your home bartending skills. Cheers!

1. Boulevardier Cocktail

Ever had a Negroni? The classic cocktail contains gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. Well, the Boulevardier takes things up a notch by swapping gin for rye or bourbon whiskey. It’s smooth, rich, warm and bitter. The vibrant red color is a sight to behold, too. Enjoy the Boulevardier as a nightcap on a cold winter’s eve or serve them at guys’ night to really impress your friends. 

Simply combine the whiskey, sweet vermouth and Campari in a cocktail mixing glass. Fill the glass with ice and stir for about 30 seconds. Add ice to a lowball glass and strain the cocktail into it. Garnish with orange peel and sip away. 

2. Bourbon Apple Cider

Move over spiked pumpkin spice, there’s a new cocktail in town. The bourbon apple cider has all the makings of a tasty fall cocktail. Bourbon, apple cider and a squeeze of citrus are reminiscent of mulled cider, but the simple syrup and shot of applejack take this drink to the next level. 

First, make your herb-infused simple syrup. Don’t worry; it’s easier than it sounds. Add sugar and water to a saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Then, steep a few thyme sprigs for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool, strain and refrigerate. Add the syrup, bourbon, applejack, cider, lemon juice and bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a glass with ice and enjoy!

3. Blackberry Bourbon Smash 

Classic cocktails like the blackberry bourbon smash are delicious year-round. Plus, as complicated as they might sound, they’re super easy to make. You don’t even need a muddler to smash things. A wooden spoon, dowel or meat pounder will work just as well.

Place the blackberries, mint leaves, honey and lemon juice to a mixing glass and smash using your muddling tool of choice. Add ice and bourbon and shake well. Pour into an ice-filled rocks glass, garnish with mint and serve.   

4. Kentucky Mule 

You’ve heard of Moscow mules, but what about the Kentucky mule? This variation swaps the vodka for bourbon to create a more flavorful drink than the original. For best results, use a top-shelf bourbon so the ginger beer doesn’t overpower it. 

Simply combine bourbon, lime juice and ice in a lowball glass or copper mule mug. Fill the glass with ice and top with ginger beer. Use large cubes to maintain the cocktail’s acidic flavor and prevent it from becoming too watery. 

5. The Gold Rush 

The Gold Rush seems simple. After all, it’s essentially a whiskey sour. You’re just replacing the traditional sugar with honey. Yet, the bourbon-honey combo transforms the flavor and mouthfeel into something you must taste to understand. When making the Gold Rush, choose a slightly aged bourbon and try making your own honey syrup. The taste’s worth the extra effort.  

Once you’ve prepped your ingredients, add the bourbon, honey syrup and lemon juice to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass over a single large ice cube. You can use regular old cubes in a pinch. You’ll just have to enjoy it quickly before it waters down. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve. 

6. Old Fashioned

The old fashioned is a serious cocktail with deep history, so don’t be surprised if drinking one makes you feel manly and powerful. Like the other drinks on this list, this classic cocktail contains just a handful of ingredients, so they must be high-quality. 

First, combine the sugar, bitters and water in a rocks glass. Be careful to get the proportions right so that each ingredient plays an equal part in complimenting your bourbon. Muddle the ingredients until the sugar dissolves. Then, fill the glass with ice, add whisky and stir well. Garnish with an orange twist or cherry and enjoy. 

Shaking Up Delicious Bourbon Drinks

The key to crafting delicious bourbon drinks is consistency. The more often you make them, the more you’ll be able to fine-tune the process and even experiment with new ingredients. Using top-shelf liquor certainly doesn’t hurt, either, so grab your favorite bottle and get mixing! The sky’s the limit when you’ve got imagination and a few basic bar tools. 

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