If you don’t like whiskey because it’s too strong, these bourbon cocktails might be the perfect middle ground for those craving a touch of sweetness.
What’s the difference? Well, in basic terms, bourbon is whiskey – it’s just a whole lot sweeter!
Bourbon Cocktails & Drink Recipes
Containing lots of corn (at least 51%) and aged in charred oak barrels, bourbon is a unique liquor that’s distinctly American.
It’s sweet, smooth, and so tasty with all kinds of mixers. That includes the classic coke and bourbon, and more adventurous drink recipes with mint or Vermouth.
So whether you like a drink that’s syrupy sweet or wonderfully sour, I know you’ll love these bourbon cocktails.
1. The Bourbon Sour
It won’t come as a surprise to hear that a classic whiskey or bourbon sour recipe includes plenty of lemon juice.
That said, there is sugar in the mix, too, to keep this from being out of balance.
Depending on your tastes, you might want to up the lemon juice for this since bourbon is noticeably sweeter than whiskey.
Either way, I highly recommend using maple syrup, as it pairs perfectly with the vanilla notes in the liquor.
Ingredients: bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup (or simple syrup), orange peel & cherries (for garnish)
2. Bourbon Smash
This cocktail is the perfect combination of a whiskey sour and a mint julep.
And it gets its name from how it’s made – muddling fresh mint with sugar and lemon, then adding your spirit of choice.
It’s very similar to the recipe above, with the exception of the mint. Plus, it’s served on the rocks and not meant to be strained.
Ingredients: mint leaves, lemon wedges, bourbon, maple syrup (or simple syrup), crushed ice
3. Best Bourbon Old-Fashioned
The old-fashioned can be traced way back to 1806 and is one of the very first recorded definitions of the cocktail.
Traditionally made with sugar, bitters, water, and a decent glug of bourbon (or whiskey), it’s the kind of drink you take your time to make and sip slowly.
Since the drink contains bitters, which have lovely orange notes, this drink is perfect with a simple piece of orange peel for garnish.
Ingredients: simple syrup, Angostura bitters, orange bitters, bourbon, ice cubes, orange peel & cherries (for garnish)
4. Classic Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail
The Manhattan is one of the most straightforward cocktail recipes around and calls for just three ingredients.
And just like New York City, it’s intense, rich, and full of character.
You’ll add two parts bourbon to a shaker with one part sweet Vermouth and bitters, then stir to combine.
To get it nice and chilled, add crushed ice to your glass while you make the drink, then tip it out before pouring.
Ingredients: bourbon, sweet Vermouth, Angostura bitters, orange peel & cherries (for garnish)
5. The Revolver Cocktail
This cocktail was created in San Francisco by a bartender with a few too many bottles of Bulleit bourbon he needed rid of.
So, he came up with this twisted version of a Manhattan. It uses smoky-sweet bourbon and a flamed orange peel you can smell from across the bar.
Hence the name, Revolver.
There’s also a touch of coffee in the mix, which works surprisingly well with the spirit.
Ingredients: dry bourbon, coffee liqueur, orange bitters, ice, orange peel (for garnish)
6. Mint Julep
Did you know that the mint julep is the drink of the Kentucky Derby? It’s true! And they serve over 120,000 over that one weekend alone!
With a drink that popular, we’d be silly not to try it, right?
I mentioned above that the bourbon smash was a cross between the julep and a whiskey sour.
So, while the latter brought the lemon, this drink’s flavor is all about the mint.
Ingredients: mint leaves, simple syrup, crushed ice, bourbon, mint sprig (for garnish)
7. Bourbon Hot Toddy
As the weather gets colder, the last thing I want at night is a glass full of ice.
And what better way to fight the chill than a combination of hot bourbon, lemon, and honey?
It won’t just warm you up; it’ll also fight off any nasty winter bugs.
Use the recipe as a base and adjust the amounts as you like.
Ingredients: bourbon, honey, lemon juice, hot water, lemon wedge (for garnish)
8. Ginger Rabbit
This cocktail is surprisingly complex, and it’s so much more than just ginger, lemon, and bourbon.
First, you’ll make black tea and anise simple syrup for a touch of spice, making it kind of like spiked iced tea.
To that, you’ll add Crème Yvette, a spirit made with parma violet petals, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cassis, honey, orange peel, and vanilla.
So it’s pretty sweet, and the violet taste and fragrance are a lot. With that in mind, if you’re not a fan of Parma Violet candies, you won’t enjoy this drink.
Ingredients: bourbon, simple syrup, Crème Yvette, ginger, Angostura bitters, lemon peel
9. Black Demure
There’s nothing demure about this bourbon cocktail.
Instead, the name refers to the use of Crème de Mûre, a vibrant blackberry liqueur.
It’s very sweet and often enjoyed as an after-dinner digestif. Crème de Cassis would make a good alternative, though the flavors are slightly different.
This drink also includes Cointreau, adding a lovely light orange note.
Ingredients: bourbon, Crème de Mûre, Cointreau, lemon juice, simple syrup, fresh blackberries & orange peel (for garnish)
10. Bourbon Sidecar
Traditional Sidecars are made with Cognac and citrus, making them sweet and tart.
Think of them like a lighter version of the whiskey sour.
But where the sour calls for only lemon juice, the Sidecar has Cointreau in the mix. That makes it boozier and provides a more mellow citrus flavor.
You can use Triple Sec if that’s all you have, but it’s a little harsher and less balanced.
Ingredients: bourbon, Cointreau, lemon juice, simple syrup, lemon or orange twist (for garnish)
11. The John Collins Cocktail
I’m sure you’ve tried or at least heard of the classic Tom Collins.
It’s a refreshing blend of gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda, first published in 1876 (though it’s believed to be much older).
And as you might have already guessed, the John Collins is pretty much identical, but for the bourbon.
Where Tom is botanical and summery, John is deep and full of caramel and vanilla notes. Both are refreshing, but the latter has more warmth.
Ingredients: bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, ice cubes, club soda, orange and lemon slices & cherries (for garnish)
12. Easy Bourbon Eggnog
Also known as ‘milk punch’ or ‘egg milk punch’, eggnog is one of those drinks people either love or hate.
Full of milk, cream, sugar, and plenty of eggs, this cocktail is thick, creamy, and almost like a boozy milkshake (though it’s often made without alcohol).
Brandy is typically the spirit of choice, as well as dark rum and Cognac.
But this is a list of bourbon cocktails, so I think you can guess what’s featured in this one.
Ingredients: bourbon, eggnog
13. Blizzard Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail
If you’re looking for festive cocktail recipes to serve at your next holiday party, this drink is for you.
First, it’s full of sweet and tart cranberries, which are synonymous with the festive season.
Next, you’ll add lemon juice and simple syrup to enhance the fruity berries and balance out the sour taste with a hint of sweetness.
Finally, use a decent bourbon you would drink on its own. Otherwise, it might be too overpowering.
Ingredients: bourbon, unsweetened cranberry juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, lemon twist & fresh cranberries (for garnish)
14. Raspberry Love Cocktail
Adding raspberry to bourbon might sound a little odd. But the sweetness of the spirit actually pairs beautifully with sweet-tart raspberries.
Between the orange and vanilla flavors, raspberry fits in like a dream.
You’ll lighten this up with citrus soda, making it bubbly and full of clean, zesty goodness.
Ingredients: Chambord raspberry liqueur, lemon-lime soda, bourbon, ice cubes, fresh raspberries (for garnish)
15. Bourbon Renewal Recipe
Remember when I said the Black Demure would work with Crème de Cassis?
Well, others thought so too, and came up with this rich berry-flavored bourbon cocktail.
It’s more bourbon-forward than anything else, but the blend of berry liqueur, lemon juice, and bitters provides just enough to cut through the alcohol.
Try it without the simple syrup first, then adjust it to your liking.
Ingredients: bourbon, lemon juice, Angostura bitters, Crème de Cassis, simple syrup
16. Kentucky Mule Recipe
Served in a copper mug, the classic Moscow mule is a blend of vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice.
And it’s super easy to modify with rum, tequila, or even bourbon.
Of course, since this is called a Kentucky mule, you know it’s full of the good stuff – aka Kentucky bourbon.
I’m a huge fan of Jefferson’s Reserve for its dreamy honeyed fruit and caramel taste.
Ingredients: bourbon, ginger beer, lime juice, crushed iced, fresh mint (for garnish
17. The Best Boulevardier
A stunning blend of bourbon, Campari, and sweet Vermouth, this drink is very spirit heavy. So if you don’t enjoy super boozy cocktails, it’s probably not for you.
But if you enjoy the classic Negroni, I think you’ll really go nuts for this deeper, more caramelly version.
The Boulevardier is a touch darker and best sipped after a long day.
I like it on the rocks with a squeeze of orange for freshness and a long orange peel for fragrance.
Ingredients: bourbon, Campari, sweet Vermouth, orange peel (for garnish)
18. Old Fashioned Paloma (Bourbon and Grapefruit Cocktail)
The classic Paloma is a combination of tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit juice (or soda).
It’s zippy and super fresh, with a pretty bitter flavor and plenty of bubbles.
This bourbon twist adds a little more sweetness and depth of flavor, balancing the zing of the grapefruit juice beautifully.
Use grapefruit juice and citrus soda to control the flavors, or go for grapefruit soda if you prefer. It’s tasty either way.
Ingredients: bourbon, Angostura bitters, grapefruit soda (or grapefruit juice and citrus soda), lime wedge (for garnish)
19. Bourbon Lemonade
Lemonade is a yummy summer drink on its own. But when you add bourbon to the mix, it’s suddenly extra special.
And if you use store-bought lemonade, the prep is a breeze!
The great thing about this recipe is that you can add all kinds of fruit to the pitcher, including citrus or fresh berries for sweetness.
Just muddle them a little before adding the liquids and let it all sit in the fridge until it’s time to serve.
Ingredients: pre-made lemonade, bourbon, fruits, ice cubes
20. Maker’s Mark® Man O’ War
The Man O’War is another quintessential Kentucky Derby cocktail.
In fact, it’s named for the legendary horse, Man O’War, who won 20 out of 21 races in 1920.
And since Man O’War was a Kentucky native, this drink should only be made with Kentucky bourbon (but I won’t tell if you don’t have any).
It’s citrusy, bright, sprite-heavy, and delightful!
Ingredients: bourbon, Orange Curaçao, sweet Vermouth, orange juice, maraschino cherries (for garnish)
21. The Brown Derby
No, this isn’t another Kentucky Derby cocktail. Though its origins are a little fuzzy.
Some say it’s named for the Brown Derby restaurant in old Hollywood. And it’s popped up in different publications with different names over the years.
But whether you call it the Brown Derby or the De Rigueur, it’s just as delicious.
Featuring bittersweet grapefruit juice with warm bourbon and sweet honey syrup, it’s a delightful summer sipper.
Ingredients: grapefruit juice, bourbon, honey simple syrup
22. Bourbon Lemon Drop Martini
Lemon drop candies are lip-smackingly delicious and the kind of treat to get your juices flowering.
And while this drink is decidedly sour, it’s not too overwhelming, thanks to the sweet bourbon and balanced Limoncello.
If you find sour mixes to be overly bitter, use the recipe provided to make your own. Then adjust the sweetness as needed.
Ingredients: mint leaves, sour mix, bourbon, Limoncello, lemon slices & mint sprigs (for garnish)
23. Bourbon Sweet Tea Cocktail
I had to end with a twisted tea cocktail.
Bourbon is, after all, a southern fave. And what’s more southern than sweet tea?
Just add honey simple syrup, bourbon sour mash whiskey, and citrus bitters to your favorite iced tea recipe and you’re all set.
Use sweet tea if you like, and skip the honey. Or go for a honey-infused bourbon if you can find it!
Ingredients: honey simple syrup, bourbon, citrus bitters, Arnold Palmer Tea, ice cubes
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