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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
A Boulevardier cocktail is a Negroni crafted with bourbon instead of gin.
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.
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 spend a night at home with somebody special.
The Gold Rush glitters bright in the cocktail galaxy.
The Kentucky Mule is one of our favorite mules which should be no surprise since we adore bourbon. Who knows? Maybe it will be one of your favorite mules too.
Crafting a Manhattan at home is both easy and rewarding. When you follow our recipe, you'll feel like you're at your favorite bar at 1am but without the drama.
Maple Bourbon Smash
Sweet and boozy, the Maple Bourbon Smash is ideal to pair with brunch or sip at night by the fire.
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.
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.
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.
The Old Fashioned is one of the most classic of classic cocktails.
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.
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?
Bourbon takes the classic Sidecar to new heights by replacing cognac with bourbon.
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.
Bourbon is American whiskey that’s distilled with corn and aged in new charred oak barrels.
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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
View the latest Web Story.
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 and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: March 11, 2023