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16 Bourbon Cocktails Worth Sipping

Discover 16 bourbon cocktails that are easy to love. This bourbon roster includes classics like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan as well as modern bourbon cocktails that may be new to you.

Bourbon Milk Punch and Four Roses Bourbon

There’s something about bourbon that we love more than other spirits. Do we enjoy bourbon because we’re American or is our nationality irrelevant to why we enjoy the spirit’s rich blend of barrel aged flavors? Either way, our appreciation for bourbon has grown over time.

This appreciation started with occasional dalliances and were piqued in 2016. That’s when we experienced a tour at the Buffalo Trace distillery. Since then, our bourbon interest has continued to grow, inspired by the barrel aged bourbons we’ve sipped in bars as far away as France and Thailand.

Cocktail and Bourbon at Batch in Tucson
We rarely pass on bourbon cocktails including this one at a bar in Tucson.

We’ve also imbibed more than a few bourbon drinks stateside in cities like New Orleans (on Bourbon St. – no coincidence), New York, Philadelphia and more recently Tucson. But we don’t just drink bourbon at bars…

We now have a number of bourbons in our home bar that we enjoy drinking both on the rocks and in cocktails. In fact, our love for bourbon blossomed into a burgeoning passion once we started crafting cocktails at home. We have no intention of stopping any time soon.

Brandy Milk Punch at Brennans in New Orleans
Drinking this Bourbon Milk Punch was a highlight of our breakfast at Brennan’s on New Orleans’ infamous Bourbon Street.

Apparently we’re not alone. Bourbon has become ridiculously popular over the last 20 years with some rare bottles selling for exorbitant prices ranging from hundreds to many thousands of dollars.

The thing is, unless your a serious collector or have lots of money to spend, you don’t have break your bank account to enjoy good bourbon. Instead, you can buy affordable bottles from Kentucky bourbon producers like Buffalo Trace, Bulleit and Four Roses which is exactly what we do.

What Is Bourbon?

Kentucky Mule and Bourbon Bottle with Pink Background
Drinking this Kentucky Mule at home was the next best thing to attending the Kentucky Derby.

As the saying goes – all bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon. But what does that mean? In simple terms, bourbon is an American style of whiskey with distinct characteristics related to where and how it’s produced..

For starters, bourbon must be produced in the United States. While it doesn’t technically need to be produced in Kentucky, that’s the American state which produces most of the country’s (and therefore the world’s) bourbon.

Bourbon has to include a mash that’s at least 51% corn. It has to be aged in new charred oak barrels. And it has to bottled with at least an 80 proof. The result is magic that starts in a bottle and ends in the glass.

cropped-Bourbon-Manhattan-Cocktail-1.jpg
We paused to admire this Manhattan before we sipped the bounty of our efforts.

Those are the facts. And, while facts are great, the best way to experience the deliciousness that is bourbon is to taste the spirit neat, on the rocks, with a splash of water or in a cocktail. We usually go the cocktail route and add a couple Luxardo maraschino cherries for good measure.

These are our favorite bourbon cocktail recipes to craft at home:

16 Of The Best Bourbon Cocktails

Sipping a Whiskey Sour
Whiskey Sour
The Whiskey Sour ranks as one of the most popular drinks in the world. It's a pleasure to drink and a breeze to craft at home. Follow our Whiskey Sour recipe and join the happy crowd of Whiskey Sour fans.
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Old Fashioned with Ice Cube
Old Fashioned
A Bourbon Old Fashioned is one of the most classic of classic cocktails. Follow our easy recipe to craft an Old Fashioned at home in just five minutes.
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Boulevardier with Peeled Orange
Boulevardier
A Boulevardier cocktail is a Negroni crafted with bourbon instead of gin. Follow our easy recipe and craft a Boulevardier at home in just five minutes.
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Bourbon Sidecar with Lemon Twist and Sugar Rim
Bourbon Sidecar
The Bourbon Sidecar cocktail takes the classic Sidecar to new heights by replacing cognac with bourbon. Follow our easy Bourbon Sidecar recipe and craft one at home in just five minutes.
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Amaretto Sour with White Background
Amaretto Sour
Crafting an Amaretto Sour is easy. The challenge is deciding which ingredients to add. Since we add both Disaronno Amaretto and Bourbon, our Amaretto Sour recipe is technically a Disaronno Sour recipe and it's delicious.
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Bourbon Manhattan on Steps
Bourbon Manhattan
Crafting a Bourbon Manhattan at home is both easy and rewarding. Follow our recipe and craft the classic cocktail at home in just five minutes. You'll feel like you're at your favorite bar at 1am but without the drama.
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Gold Rush Cocktail from Above with White Background
Gold Rush
The Gold Rush glitters bright in the cocktail galaxy. Follow our easy recipe and craft the tasty bourbon cocktail at home in just five minutes.
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Brown Derby Cocktail with White Background
Brown Derby
Easy to craft and a pleasure to imbibe, the Brown Derby cocktail is ideal for a lazy brunch or a cosy night by the fire. Our addition of maple syrup makes this prohibition cocktail simply impossible to resist.
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Two Bourbon Eggnogs in Coupes
Bourbon Eggnog
Our boozy Bourbon Eggnog recipe is both decadently delicious and ridiculously easy to make for just two people. In other words, the boozy Eggnog is an ideal cocktail if you want to celebrate the holiday season at home with somebody special.
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Kentucky Mule with Black Background
Kentucky Mule
The Kentucky Mule is our new favorite mule which should be no surprise since we adore bourbon. Who knows? Maybe it will be your new favorite mule too.
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Maple Bourbon Smash - Social IMG
Maple Bourbon Smash
Sweet and boozy, the Maple Bourbon Smash is ideal to pair with brunch or sip at night by the fire. Follow our easy Maple Bourbon Smash recipe and craft the delightful cocktail at home in just five minutes.
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Bourbon Milk Punch with Pink Background.jpg
Bourbon Milk Punch
Bourbon Milk Punch is a decadent New Orleans cocktail that's ideal to serve with brunch or any time when you want the good times to roll. Follow our easy Bourbon Milk Punch recipe and craft the creamy dreamy cocktail in just five minutes.
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Paper Plane Cocktail with White Background Centered
Paper Plane
Despite its fun name and festive color, the Paper Plane is a sophisticated cocktail that's ideal for serious cocktail drinkers. It's also a tasty tipple that's super easy to craft at home.
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Revolver Cocktail with Orange Twist and White Background
Revolver
The Revolver cocktail is a boozy bourbon bombshell with a caffeine kick. Why not pull the trigger and give the three-ingredient potent potable a try?
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New York Sour Cocktail with Black Background Centered
New York Sour
The New York Sour takes the classic Whiskey Sour to a new level by adding a red wine float. This ruby layer provides a fruity zing plus a stripe of elegance.
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Mint Julep Next to White Tiles
Mint Julep
Popular with both horse racing enthusiasts and cocktail connoisseurs, the classic Mint Julep is inexorably tied to Kentucky's annual derby. You'll love this bourbon smash cocktail even if you don't fit into either category.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is bourbon?

Bourbon is American whiskey that’s distilled with corn and aged in new charred oak barrels.

How is bourbon different from whiskey?

Bourbon is a type of whiskey. Unlike other whiskeys, bourbon’s mash must be at least 51% corn and the spirit must be aged in new charred oak barrels. Bourbon must also be produced in the United States.

Where is bourbon produced?

All bourbon is produced in the United States, primarily (but not exclusively) in the State of Kentucky in adherence with the country’s strict bourbon rules..

What are the bourbon rules?

Bourbon rules specify how whiskey must be distilled and aged. These rules include using at least 51% corn, aging in new charred oak barrels and achieving a proof no less than 80 when bottled.

What are the different ways to drink bourbon?

Bourbon can be imbibed in different ways including neat (with nothing added), on the rocks (with ice cubes), with a splash of water and in cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Whiskey Sour.

Who makes the best bourbon?

Selecting the best bourbon is subjective and depends on both budget and intended usage. Notable bourbon brands include Buffalo Trace, Evan Williams, Four Roses, Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark, Michter’s, Old Forester, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.

What is the most popular bourbon cocktail?

The Old Fashioned is the most popular bourbon cocktail and one of the most popular cocktails in the world. Its simple recipe includes bourbon (or rye), Angostura bitters, a jumbo ice cube and an orange twist.

Is bourbon expensive?

Unless you’re looking to buy Buffalo Trace’s super expensive Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon, bourbon bottle prices run the gamut from affordable to luxury.

Video Recap

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About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.

Disclosures

Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Funding
We purchased the ingredients and tools used to craft these cocktails.

Original Publication Date: March 11, 2023

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