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20 Bourbon Cocktails You Need to Try At Least Once

Bourbon Cocktail

Whether you're a basement bartender or a professional with years of experience, the Bourbon cocktail will definitely be a staple at your bar. Delicious, unique and savory, the bourbon cocktail has stood the test of time. As such, creative mixologists have come up with a myriad of variations to suit every taste from robust savory cocktails to chocolaty sweet dessert cocktails. Knowing this we've chosen the 20 best bourbon cocktails that you must try at least just once in your life. Remember, if you do find one you like, search the internet for its variations.

20. Kentucky Mulled Cider

When the temperatures take a dip and you're yearning for a good drink to help take off the edge, then the Kentucky Mulled Cider cocktail is the way to go. This drink has been popular for many a winter season, and though it won't cure your cold or flu, it can surely provide some comfort. Easy to make, start by gathering your ingredients: 1.25 ounces of good quality bourbon, pour in hot apple cider (amount to taste), and garnish with a cinnamon stick, orange slice or lemon slice. There, it's that easy!

19. Belmont Jewel

The Belmont Jewel is named after the Belmont stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown. Here, the refreshing Mint Julep stands for the Derby's official drink, and the Black-Eyed Susan cocktail represents the Preakness with the Belmont Jewel for the Belmont. Those tasting the Belmont Jewel will be surprised at how delicious this cocktail is. Though there are many variations of this drink, the basics remain the same. So when you're ready, gather your supplies: 1 ounce of Vodka, 1 ounce of peach schnapps, 2 ounces of orange juice, 2 ounces of sour mix, 1 ounce of bourbon and garnish if desired. To start, fill your cocktail shaker with ice and proceed to add all the above ingredients. Next, shake well and strain the liquid into a tall ice-filled glass. Garnish if desired and enjoy!

18. Black Demure

Created by New York bartender Franky Marshall, this cocktail is an absolutely delicious drink which takes the flavor of blackberries and blends it with your favorite bourbon and citrus. The taste can be described as ravishingly robust. Though any bourbon will do, some claim that Wild Turkey 81-proof bourbon is best. Ingredients include 2 ounces of bourbon, 1/4 of an ounce of cointreau, 1/4 of an ounce of creme de mure, 1/4 of an ounce of simple syrup and 3/4 of an ounce of fresh lemon. Making this drink may seem more complex than a Highball.

17. Bourbon Ball Cocktail

The Bourbon Ball cocktail is the perfect example of a dessert drink. A dessert drink is one that satiates the sweet tooth. There are many different types of dessert cocktails, but today we'll focus on the Bourbon Ball. Ingredients include your favorite bourbon, chocolate liqueur, hazelnut liqueur, heavy cream and chocolate shavings to garnish.

16. Hot Toddy

The Hot Toddy is the drink which warms both souls and hearts. Perfect for those chilly days when you need just a hint of warmth to set you right, the Hot Toddy is a classic cold weather drink that's easy to make. Before we get started, realize that there are many versions of the Hot Toddy, this one uses nutmeg. Supplies needed for your Toddy are honey, 2 cinnamon sticks, bourbon, powdered nutmeg, and fresh lemon. First, grab a mug and boil some water. Next, add 3 ounces of bourbon, 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of honey and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg and the cinnamon sticks to the mug. Finally, pour in the boiled water. There, it's just that simple!

15. Bourbon Tea

Bourbon Tea is just as the name suggests, a cocktail made of your favorite bourbon mixed with tea and a hint of sweet lemon liqueur. The first thing to do is to select your ingredients and get hopping. You'll need to brew your tea first, being careful to get the strength just as you like it. While the tea is brewing, take a double rocks glass and add 1/2 of an ounce of lemon and 1-1/2 ounce of bourbon. Add ice to the glass, then pour in your pre-brewed tea.

14. Whiskey Highball

If you're new to the world of mixology and searching for a classic, simple drink to start off with, then the Whiskey Highball is for you. As for the name, there are a few theories. However, the main theory is that the highball got its name from a combination of the tall glass used to hold the drink, and the sound the steam engine would make when, called "highballing". To make your own highball, get a tall highball glass and fill it with ice. Pour 2 ounces of whiskey in the glass, then 4 to 6 ounces of ginger ale or club soda.

13. Rooster Cocktail

Unlike most of the bourbon cocktail drinks listed here, the Rooster Cocktail is a recent addition to the list of cocktail favorites. Developed especially for the 2012 remake, "True Grit", the drink is named after the title character, Rooster Cogburn. To get started, collect your ingredients: 1-1/2 ounces of bourbon, 1/2 of an ounce of cinnamon schnapps, 4 ounces of sarsaparilla and Kosher salt. Rim a double rocks glass with salt. Add ice, bourbon and schnapps, topping with sarsaparilla. Don't shake, stir instead.

12. Pumpkin Old-Fashioned

With the fall holidays only a few months away, you've plenty of time to practice your holiday cocktail drinks, and the Pumpkin Old-Fashioned is a great one to start with. Here, you'll take 1-1/2 ounces of brandy orange liqueur, 1 ounce of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree, 1 dash of aromatic bitters, and 1-1/2 ounces of bourbon. Next, take al of the above ingredients and place them in an ice-filled cocktail shaker, shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.

11. Revolver

The Revolver cocktail is one of the more recent discoveries on our list of the best bourbon cocktails. Created by Jon Santer in the 2000's, the Revolver adds a bit of coffee liqueur for its original kick. To make your own, you'll need 2 ounces of bourbon, 1/2 of an ounce of coffee liqueur, 2 dashes of orange bitters, and orange peel as a garnish. First, grab an ice-filled mixing glass and add the coffee, bourbon and orange bitters. Stir until chilled, then strain the contents into a chilled cocktail glass. As for the garnish, take an orange peel and flame it over the glass, then use the peel as a garnish.

10. Gold Rush

The Gold Rush cocktail is a simple and delicious bourbon cocktail. The drink is made with just 3 ingredients: Honey syrup, fresh lemon juice and good quality bourbon. In fact, it's suggested that the bourbon be slightly aged to give the best taste. To make it, take 2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of honey syrup, 3/4 of an ounce of fresh lemon juice and a lemon twist as a garnish. Next, add all of the above to an ice-filled shaker and shake until chilled, then strain it into a chilled rocks glass. The rocks glass should be holding one large ice cube. Finally, garnish with the lemon twist.

9. Bourbon Sidecar

What do you get when you take good quality bourbon, orange liqueur, simple syrup and lemon juice? You get the popular Bourbon Sidecar. The name refers to the sidecar that attaches to the motorcycle. It first appeared in the 1922 book "Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails".

8. Boulevardier

The roaring twenties didn't just give us flappers, it gave us the Boulevardier cocktail. This drink was made by Erskine Gwynne. Gwynne published a magazine called the "Boulevardier", hence the name. To make one for yourself, take 1-1/4 ounces of high quality bourbon, 1 ounce of campari, and 1 ounce of sweet vermouth and add it to an ice-filled mixing glass. Next you want to stir until chilled, strain it into a rocks glass with ice. For a finishing touch you can garnish it with an orange twist.

7. Scofflaw

The Scofflaw first appeared at Harry's Bar, Paris France in 1924. The name "scofflaw" was actually created by Henry Irving Dale and Kate L. Butler during the prohibition era where anyone caught drinking alcohol was breaking the law. In fact, scofflaw means "the lawless drinker". Ingredients for the Scofflaw are as follows: 2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of dry vermouth, 1/4 of an ounce of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 of an ounce of Grenadine and 2 dashes of orange bitters.

6. Whiskey Smash

The Whiskey Smash is an age old classic cocktail which first saw the light of day in the late 1800's. Professional bartender, Dale DeGroff, also known as King Cocktail, states that the mint/citrus blend is what makes this the perfect cocktail to serve those unsure about the taste of whiskey. ( To get an idea of how to make one of these tasty cocktails.

5. John Collins

The John Collins is another bourbon sour cocktail. Easy to make and tough to foil, this dependable cocktail can be mastered by a beginner in a matter of minutes. According to head bartender Sean Johnson, "The 'Collins' style of drink is a favorite in the summer months because it is essentially an effervescent lemonade with spirit. How can you go wrong? This recipe nicely balances the punch from whiskey, acid from lemon, and sweetness from simple syrup. Add bubbly water, and you have a wonderfully refreshing and bold cocktail. Grab yourself a Collins glass, and get to mixing. First, take 1-1/2 ounces of good quality bourbon, add 1 ounce of lemon juice and 1/2 an ounce of simple syrup into an ice-filled Collins glass. Stir with a spoon. Finally, add 2 ounces of club soda. If desired you may add a maraschino cherry or orange slice for garnish.

4. New York Sour

The whiskey sour is another bourbon cocktail that comes with a history. First appearing in the 1862 book "Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide", the whiskey sour remains a great favorite to this day. One of its favored varieties is the New York Sour. To make a New York whiskey sour, you'll need 2 ounces of high quality bourbon, 1 ounce of fresh lemon juice, an optional egg white, and 1/2 an ounce of red wine. Pour the bourbon, simple syrup, lemon and egg white (if desired), into an ice-filled shaker. Shake until chilled. Strain the liquid into a rocks glass with ice. Finally, take the red wine and a bar spoon. You want the wine to float, so pour it over the back of the spoon.

3. Mint Julep

This historical drink is known as the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby. The mint julep is a cocktail which is intended to be served ice cold, so when making it, use a rocks glass or silver mint julep cup. Ingredients are simple: 8 or so mint leaves, high-quality bourbon, and simple syrup. If you're not familiar, the basic simple syrup is nothing more than equal parts of white sugar and water.

2. Manhattan

The Manhattan has been around since the late 1800's. Shortly after its creation, the Manhattan became the drink of choice for socialites everywhere. Today, the Manhattan still stands as one of the world's best cocktails. Through the years, innovative mixologists have created their own versions of this famous drink. However, if you'd like to know the recipe of the original, here goes. First, get a mixing glass with ice. Take 2 ounces of bourbon and 1 ounce of sweet vermouth. Add 2 dashes of Angostura bitters and 1 dash of orange bitters. Add all to the mixing glass. Stir and Strain. If garnish is desired you can use a brandied cherry.

1. Old-Fashioned

Our number one spot for the best bourbon cocktails is the Old-Fashioned. The Old-Fashioned has been a favorite bourbon cocktail for the last 200 years. Back then cocktails were said to require water, aromatic bitters, sweetness and whiskey. In order to make this drink, it's imperative that you use the best bourbon on hand. This is one drink that doesn't suffer cheap bourbon well. To start, take a rocks glass and add 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 3 dashes of Angostura bitters. Add 1 teaspoon of water and stir until contents are mostly dissolved. Place ice cubes in the drink and add 2 ounces of Bourbon.

Final Thoughts

There you go, the 20 of the best bourbon cocktails that you must taste if you're a lover of bourbon drinks. As you can see, there are hundreds of bourbon cocktails to mix for various tastes and celebrations. In fact, bourbon is known as being one of the most versatile of whiskey's which makes it all the easier to create new drinks for friends and family. Not only that, but don't leave until you become familiar with the art of food pairing with bourbon. The efforts made to craft the best bourbon cocktail will be accentuated when known how to pair bourbon cocktails with food.

Lily Wordsmith

Written by Lily Wordsmith

Lily Wordsmith is a freelance writer who has had a love affair with the written word for decades. You can find her writing blog posts and articles while sitting under a tree at the local park watching her kids play, or typing away on her tablet in line at the DMV. In addition to her freelance career, she is pursuing ebook writing with an ever-growing repertoire of witty ebooks to her name. Her diversity is boundless, and she has written about everything from astrobotany to zookeepers. Her real passions are her family, baking desserts and all things luxe.

Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith

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