Here are the best bourbon cocktails for using this popular whiskey! These drinks work for summer, winter, and every time in between.
Got a great bottle of bourbon whiskey? The sweet notes of vanilla and oak make bourbon drinks some of the most complex and intriguing out there. Of course, you can drink it straight up. But why when there are so many great bourbon cocktails to try? Bourbon works in any season. Though it might feel autumnal with its full-bodied flavor, there choices for summer bourbon cocktails as well.
Here at A Couple Cooks, we prefer bourbon in most of our classic cocktails instead of rye whiskey, because of its smooth and sweet flavor. Below is our list of best whiskey cocktails using bourbon, with classic like the Whiskey Sour and Old Fashioned and unique drinks like the Gold Rush or Bourbon Berry Smash. (Prefer browsing by season? Try our top Summer Bourbon Cocktails or Fall Bourbon Cocktails.
The Bourbon Sour is one of the best known bourbon cocktails there is! Also known as the Whiskey Sour, it's balanced and sweet tart, complementing bourbon with the acidity of lemon and the sweetness of simple syrup. This version uses maple syrup to add a nuanced flavor. Also try an egg white foam topping to make a Boston Sour.
The Boulevardier is a bourbon drink that's smooth, rich, spicy, bitter, and warm all at once. The vibrant red jewel tone makes it stunning to look at. It’s essentially a Negroni made with whiskey instead of gin, and wow! The sweetness of the bourbon perfectly balances the flavor.
Here's one of the most stunning and complex bourbon cocktails out there: the New York Sour! First you have the whiskey sour layer: sweet tart and perfectly balanced, sweetened with maple for some nuance. Then float a layer of red wine over the top and it adds intrigue, complexity and a fruity acidity. Not to mention it looks simply stunning with the bright two-toned layer. A favorite!
Swap vodka for bourbon in a Moscow mule and you’ve got the Kentucky mule! It’s bubbly, bright and bold: with zingy lime and a spicy whiskey finish. Even better: it’s so easy to make! There’s no shaking or stirring required: just pour it all into the glass. The mule has had a major comeback lately: but it’s a classic cocktail that’s solidified it’s place in cocktail history.
Seasons: Works anytime, but it's a great summer bourbon cocktail
The Sidecar is one of the most classic of all sour cocktails. Change the brandy to bourbon, and you’ve got a whole new drink: the Bourbon Sidecar This one trades the fruitiness of brandy for the spicy sweet finish of bourbon whiskey. Also try Between the Sheets, which adds rum.
Here's one of the best bourbon cocktails out there: the Paper Plane! This one is a brilliant study in balance and contrast. It’s bitter, sweet and tangy all at once, hitting a magical synergy between the bourbon and Aperol. This one’s a true modern classic…and one of the best cocktails we’ve had (out of hundreds).
Seasons: Anytime! Works brilliantly in summer, fall or winter.
Here’s a bourbon cocktail recipe that’s classy and refreshing: the bourbon smash! Contrary to most whiskey cocktails, this one is tangy and light, not heavy and boozy. It’s a citrus spin on the classic Mint Julep, featuring lemon and muddled fresh mint. It’s perfect for entertaining or evening cocktails on the patio.
Here’s a fun whiskey drink that’s a spin on a classic: the John Collins cocktail! Where the Tom Collins stars gin and lemon juice, the John Collins swaps in bourbon whiskey. In fact, it’s essentially a sparkling whiskey sour, served up with soda water in a highball glass! Bubbly and refreshing, the whiskey is a bit more bold than the delicately botanical gin.
This classy cocktail has a retro name and a sweet tart flavor: it’s the Gold Rush! The name makes it sounds like a 1920’s mixed drink, but it’s actually a modern take on the classic whiskey sour. If you’re a lover of bourbon drinks, add this one to your “to do” list. The combination of the zing of the lemon, the nuance of the honey, and the spicy whiskey finish is perfection.
This sophisticated whiskey drink has a long history and has come back into style: the Manhattan! It’s a three ingredient cocktail, but there’s so much going on in one sip! Vanilla, oak and caramel notes from the bourbon, sweet and spicy from the vermouth, and bitter and herby from the bitters.
The Old Fashioned is one of the most famous whiskey cocktails there is: possibly because it’s the oldest! This bourbon drink dates back to the early 1800’s, before the words classic and cocktail were even said next to each other. It's barely a cocktail at all: just lightly sweetened booze seasoned with bitters. You can use either rye whiskey or bourbon, but we like the round flavor with bourbon.
Here’s a refreshing way to drink your favorite bourbon: the classic Whiskey Highball! This two-ingredient cocktail originated around the turn of the 20th century and it’s still popular to this day. It’s so easy to make, and it's an intriguing way to enjoy the flavors in a sip of whiskey.
This bourbon cocktail is tangy and refreshing, perfect for summer: the Bourbon Smash! Featuring muddled blackberries, mint, and lime, tangy, lightly sweet, and boozy from the bourbon. Add a splash of soda water and it rounds out the flavor, then serve with crushed ice! It’s so tasty and lighter than so many bourbon cocktails.
Here’s a drink that’s ideal for when temperatures rise: bourbon lemonade! This refreshing summer cocktail is great for beating the heat. Make up a big pitcher of fresh squeezed lemonade, refreshing and sweet tart. Then swirl it with some bourbon in a glass so you get all that boozy, spicy finish to each sip.
Here’s a bourbon drink that’s sweet, citrusy and just plain fun: the Brown Derby cocktail! This 1930’s retro drink is a tasty bourbon cocktail that tones down spicy whiskey with sweet grapefruit juice. The unique thing about this drink? It uses honey syrup instead of the traditional simple syrup, which adds complexity and mellow undertones.
Here’s a bourbon cocktail to impress all your friends: the Revolver! This spin on the Manhattan stars bourbon paired with Tia Maria, a coffee liqueur, instead of the standard sweet vermouth. It makes an intriguing drink: sweet vanilla and oak notes as you start the sip, with a finish of lingering bittersweet coffee. Garnish it with a flamed orange twist to insert an aroma of burnt orange.
Here’s a creamy, cold bourbon cocktail that’s exceedingly delicious in any season: Bourbon Milk Punch! You might not expect it, but the combination of milk and bourbon is spot on. The richness of the milk perfectly compliments the oak and vanilla notes in the bourbon. Add a vanilla and nutmeg, and this historic cocktail is every bit as epic today as the day it was invented!
Looking for a signature drink featuring cranberry and orange? Try this Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail! It’s balanced, sweet tart, and complex, fruity with intriguing notes from sweet vermouth. It's ideal for fall or winter entertaining, but it's so refreshing that it works in summer too!
Here’s a classic combination that makes one of the easiest bourbon cocktails…ever. The Bourbon Ginger! Bourbon and ginger ale are the perfect pair: the spicy notes of the liquor meld into the subtle sweet and bubbly notes of the ale. Add a squeeze of lime and a big ice cube, and you’re in business!
Season: Anytime, but it's a great summer bourbon cocktail
Need a warming drink for cold weather? Try the Bourbon Hot Toddy! This one will warm you from head to toe, with a tasty kick from the whiskey. Pour boiling water over a shot of bourbon, then top off with lemon and spices. It’s perfect for sipping on chilly evenings.
Love a Sazerac but only have bourbon whiskey? Never fear: try the Bourbon Sazerac! This boozy slow sipper is traditionally made with rye whiskey and Cognac. But simplify it and make it with bourbon, and it’s just as good! (In our opinion) Adding absinthe, sugar and bitters to bourbon whiskey makes a sophisticated cocktail that’s both elevated and simple, all at once.