4 Bourbon Cocktails
September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, and unlike some of those silly drink-driven faux holidays flooding Facebook and Twitter, it’s not merely an excuse to booze. It was declared by an act of Congress in 2007 because it’s the only liquor that, by law, must be made in the United States.
To celebrate this brown spirit and its heritage, we’ve rounded up our favorite American whiskeys, plus cool and easy cocktails to mix up. These tipples are diverse, with flavors ranging from spicy to fruity. So raise your glass and toast in the direction of Kentucky.
Recipe courtesy Drink.Well, Austin, TX
Created by Jessica Sanders, this robust cocktail showcases a relatively spicy small-batch Bourbon against rich cacao, cherry and a subtle hint of ancho chili heat.
2 ounces Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
½ ounce Dolin vermouth rouge
¼ ounce Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
¼ ounce Tempus Fugit Créme de Cacao
2 dashes Cherry Vanilla Bark Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Express a lemon peel over the cocktail and discard.
92 Four Roses Small Batch (USA; Four Roses Distillery, Lawrenceburg, KY). This blended Bourbon starts smooth and sweet, with sarsaparilla and maple sugar, and then explodes with bold cassia, cinnamon and cayenne razzle-dazzle.
abv: 45% Price: $30
Recipe courtesy The Patterson House, Nashville
Bright, fresh and citrusy, this drink plays well with the natural citrus-and-spice notes found in Bulleit Bourbon.
1 teaspoon La Muse Verte Absinthe
2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey, aged 10 years
½ ounce St-Germain
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
13 drops lemon bitters
Rinse a rocks glass with absinthe and empty excess from glass. Combine the remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, and strain into the rocks glass over an ice sphere. Garnish with a lemon peel.
91 Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey Aged 10 years (USA; Bulleit Distilling Company, Lawrenceburg, KY). This small-batch Bourbon is laced with bitter chocolate and orange peel, finishing with clove and cinnamon sparks. Note: this is Bulleit’s selected reserve bottling. It also works as well as a mellow, straight-up sipper.
abv: 45.6% Price: $45
Recipe courtesy of Analogue, New York City
As the name of the bar suggests, this calm oasis discourages cell phones and other digital distractions—all the better to focus on live jazz and well-made cocktails like this super-light, peachy sipper.
3 pieces of fresh ginger
1¾ ounces peach-infused Maker’s 46 Bourbon*
1 ounce crème de pêche
¾ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
*Add dried peaches to the Bourbon bottle and allow to infuse for 2–3 days.
Muddle the ginger in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add remaining ingredients and ice, and shake well. Double-strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. (Slap the mint to release its oils, and lightly brush across the rim of the glass.)
93 Maker’s 46 (USA; Maker’s Mark Distillery, Loretto, KY). Finished in the barrel with specially seared oak staves, this Bourbon features lively notes of vanilla and stone fruit touched with clove, ginger and allspice.
abv: 47% Price: $35
Recipe courtesy El Camino, Louisville, KY; adapted from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry
Only in Louisville would a Bourbon-based tiki drink make sense. This slightly tart, fruity cooler is said to be the favorite of “El Freakin’ Camino” owner Larry Rice.
1½ ounces Buffalo Trace Bourbon
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce passion fruit syrup
¼ ounce grenadine
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake hard for 15 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice, and garnish with a cherry.
92 Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (USA; Buffalo Trace Distillery, Franklin County, KY). A good workhorse for all manner of cocktails, this bright amber Bourbon has a butterscotch aroma and oaky, relatively dry flavors that elongate into a richer caramel finish. Best Buy.
abv: 45% Price: $25
Image courtesey Doug Winship
- 2Southern Exposure
- 4Peche Bourbon
- 5Port Light