By now you likely have one or two iconic bourbon cocktails, such as the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, or the Mint Julep, in your regular line-up. But why limit yourself to the tried-and-true? When it comes to Kentucky bourbon, the riffs are endless. From gin-based cocktails to vodka classics, keep reading to learn which cocktails are perfect vessels to showcase bourbon’s versatility.
- Espresso Martini
Originally an obsession in the 1980s that has enjoyed a resurgence, the traditional Espresso Martini features vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso and simple syrup. But by swapping out the vodka for Kentucky bourbon, you’ll find a far more sophisticated cocktail. In a drink that hides the vodka behind the bold flavors of espresso, bourbon instead adds body and a richness, while also playing up the vanilla and spice in the coffee liqueur.
- Irish Buck
A beloved sipper that showcases whiskey’s natural affinity for ginger, the Irish Buck is made with Irish whiskey, ginger ale, and a splash of lime juice. However, this highball gains added depth by using a Kentucky bourbon. Be sure to use a quality ginger ale, or opt for using fresh muddled ginger alone, to match the bourbon’s heat.
While a Negroni is hard to beat, adding bourbon in place of the more traditional gin makes for a completely different but equally delicious concoction. Known as the Boulevardier, bourbon’s rich caramel notes help balance Campari’s herbal bittersweet flavor, while the sweet vermouth is enhanced by the whiskey’s spice and toasted oak.
- Moscow Mule
The Moscow Mule is a refreshing combination of vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice. In our opinion, the cheekily named Kentucky Mule, a spin on the classic that replaces vodka with bourbon, yields a nuanced superior combination. It’s no surprise that this pairing works so well since ginger and bourbon are a complementary match.
Fruity and vibrant, the Bramble traditionally includes gin, lemon juice, and crème de mûre, a French blackberry liqueur, but we suggest tossing the gin out in favor of bourbon. The combination of the slightly tart blackberry liqueur combined with bourbon makes for a surprisingly satisfying and complex pairing that’s guaranteed to become a favorite.