The 20 Best Bourbon Cocktails

From a Classic Manhattan to Boozy Eggnog

Classic Manhattan Cocktail

Claire Cohen 

Bourbon is the whiskey of choice for many drinkers and it's the featured ingredient in countless cocktail recipes. From iconic drinks like the old-fashioned to new recipes that explore interesting flavor pairings, there are many ways to enjoy your favorite bourbons. Each brand has its own style notes as well, so you'll experience subtle differences in taste with each whiskey you pour.

  • 01 of 20

    Old-Fashioned

    Old-Fashioned Cocktail

    Claire Cohen 

    Simple and fascinating, few whiskey cocktails can beat the old- fashioned. The recipe is unbelievably easy and it's one that every whiskey drinker should know. It's also a great choice when you just want to enhance your bourbon slightly and really let the whiskey shine.

  • 02 of 20

    Mint Julep

    Classic Mint Julep Cocktails

    Claire Cohen 

    Though it's a must-drink on Kentucky Derby day, the popular mint julep is just as fabulous all year round. The mint acts as a cooling contrast to a smooth, yet bold whiskey. The flavor is surprising complex considering most recipes requires just three ingredients.

  • 03 of 20

    Manhattan

    Classic Manhattan Cocktail

    Claire Cohen 

    There are no great secrets to the success of the Manhattan. It is whiskey's answer to the gin martini and—though you can make it with any style of whiskey—bourbon is the choice for many drinkers. Simply grab a bottle of sweet vermouth and some bitters and stir it up!

  • 04 of 20

    John Collins

    John Collins Cocktail

    S&C Design Studios

    Many of the best whiskey cocktails can use any style of the brown liquor, though bourbon is often a favorite. That's exactly the case for the John Collins, one of the best tall drinks you can make with whiskey. The word refreshing immediately comes to mind for this highball thanks to its mix sweet, sour, and sparkling.

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  • 05 of 20

    Whiskey Smash

    Whiskey Smash Cocktail
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    For a taste of a very old whiskey cocktail, you have to try the whiskey smash. This storied drink has been around since the late 1800s and it's just as satisfying today. In this recipe, you'll simply dress up your bourbon with simple syrup, lemon, and spearmint. It's also the perfect excuse to break out your muddler.​

  • 06 of 20

    Perfect Manhattan

    Perfect Manhattan Cocktail

    S&C Design Studios

    Like the martini, you can also make your Manhattan "perfect." That simply means you'll do equal pours of both sweet and dry vermouth. It's a great variation for robust bourbons and those who like bolder cocktails.

  • 07 of 20

    Bourbon Sidecar

    Classic Sidecar Cocktail

    The Spruce

    The sidecar is often associated with brandy, but it's intriguing when you switch to bourbon. The bourbon sidecar is a basic sour cocktail that shakes the whiskey with Cointreau and lemon juice. Add a sugar rim if you like and enjoy the sweetened tang of this unforgettable drink.

  • 08 of 20

    Bourbon Eggnog

    Bourbon Eggnog
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    You might get a craving for a boozy eggnog around the holidays and bourbon is an excellent choice for it. This particular recipe makes enough for an intimate party and your guests will love the made-from-scratch flavor. Choose a bold bourbon so the spirit doesn't get lost amongst the warming spices.

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  • 09 of 20

    Kentucky Coffee

    Kentucky Coffee
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    Whiskey and coffee were made for one another! In the Kentucky coffee, the duo is enhanced with a whiskey-based honey liqueur, offering a sweet touch with a little more booze. Again, the more robust the bourbon, the better.

  • 10 of 20

    Bacon Cherry Creek

    Natalie Bovis' Bacon Cherry Creek Cocktail
    Aleksandr Nakic/E+/Getty Images

    If you can't get enough bacon in your life, add it to your bourbon. Bacon-washed whiskey is an ingenious creation and it's very fun to mix drinks with. It gets high-class treatment in this recipe, where it's paired with cherry-cinnamon syrup and ruby port.

  • 11 of 20

    Bourbon Tea

    Bourbon Tea
    [museopath] inc. photography/Moment/Getty Images

    Bourbon is a Southern staple and so is sweet tea, so naturally, they make a fabulous match. This recipe takes a unique approach to the sweetener. Rather than sugar with a lemon, it calls for limoncello. It's a wonderful two-for-one ingredient substitution.

  • 12 of 20

    Liquid Bourbon Ball

    Liquid Bourbon Ball Cocktail with Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey
    Steve Wisbauer/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Just a hint of chocolate can be found in the liquid bourbon ball. This dessert-worthy cocktail is a great choice for softer liquors. It's in no way too sweet, getting its rich flavor from crème de cacao and a hazelnut liqueur like Frangelico.

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  • 13 of 20

    Apple Sour

    Colleen Graham's Apple Sour Cocktail

    S&C Design Studios

    There are no bad choices when it comes to the bourbon for this apple sour. It's not one of those pucker-y cocktails, either (save that for vodka). This is a classically styled rendition of the whiskey sour that brings apple juice into the mix. It's a great way to relax on a crisp autumn day.

  • 14 of 20

    Boulevardier

    Boulevardier Cocktail

    S&C Design Studios

    One of the best whiskey cocktails for a dinner party is the boulevardier. You can think of it as a whiskey Negroni that doubles as a nice aperitif. To make it, you'll simply need to have a quality bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth on hand.

  • 15 of 20

    Blind Pilot

    The Blind Pilot Whiskey Cocktail

    S&C Design Studios

    In the world of Manhattans, the smallest touch can make a big impact. That's what you'll find in the blind pilot. This recipe mixes equal parts bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Galliano. The last ingredient brings in a delightful herbal touch led by vanilla and anise.

  • 16 of 20

    Belmont Jewel

    Woodford Reserve's Belmont Jewel Cocktail

    S&C Design Studios

    Each race in the Triple Crown has a signature cocktail and, when it comes to the Belmont Stakes, that drink is the Belmont jewel. While the recipe changes regularly, this combination of bourbon, lemonade, and pomegranate juice remains a favorite for any occasion.

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  • 17 of 20

    Beer, Bourbon, and Barbecue Cocktail

    Beer, Bourbon, and Barbecue Cocktail by Tom Fischer and Steven Dennison
    Carin Krasner/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Bring everything that's great about a summer barbecue into a single glass with this recipe. As the name indicates, you'll find beer, bourbon, and barbecue sauce inside. It's definitely not a typical drink, but it works out surprisingly well.

  • 18 of 20

    Pumpkin Old-Fashioned

    Pumpkin Old-Fashioned Cocktail With Bourbon Whiskey
    Lara Hata / Getty Images

    Autumn is the time to break out the pumpkin cocktails. For bourbon lovers, there's this pumpkin old-fashioned. The seasonal recipe pairs bourbon and Grand Marnier with pumpkin puree and maple syrup. Add an orange twist and rosemary sprig and you will have one very fine fall drink.

  • 19 of 20

    Steelers Cider

    Maker's Mark Steelers Cider Cocktail
    David Roth/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Hot apple cider is comforting on a chilly evening. It's even better when spiked with bourbon. The Steelers cider is a warm punch made for a small party and the aromatic brew is easy to mix up ahead of time, then reheat before the big game. All you need is bourbon, apple cider, and a few autumn spices.

  • 20 of 20

    Three Wise Men Shot

    Three Wise Men Whiskey Shot

    The Spruce

    Featuring a star-studded line up from the world of whiskeythe three wise men shot is a great way to wrap up your bourbon adventures. It's incredibly simple, but potent, blending together scotch, whiskey, bourbon to create a brown spirit trifecta.