If you’ve been a reader for any amount of time, you likely know that I enjoy a good cocktail every now and then. Lately, as the weather has started to chill, I’ve found myself reaching for easy bourbon cocktails more and more.
I’ll admit I wasn’t always the biggest fan of bourbon drinks, but they have grown on me. While I still am learning to tolerate bourbon neat, I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy cocktails made with bourbon.
Bourbon Cocktail Tips
Before we jump into the recipes, I have some helpful tips to share about drinking bourbon. I learned the hard way with some of these, so I hope these quick tips point you in the right direction!
Choose the Correct Glassware
Could you serve these easy bourbon cocktails in a mug and call it a day? Sure, but you may not get the full experience. Part of the joy of mixed drinks is the presentation.
Plus, a rocks glass offers much more than just aesthetics. The shape of the glass allows your nose more access, enjoying the sensory sniff of the cocktail. It also enables you to swirl the drink and release even more of those delicious notes.
Learn the Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey
Many people incorrectly use whiskey and bourbon interchangeably. While all bourbon is whiskey, not all whiskey is bourbon. Bourbon is held to some different standards than whiskey. For example, a true bourbon must be distilled from a mixture include at least 51% corn for that signature sweet flavor.
Bourbon must also be produced in America, while whiskey does not. It also cannot contain any additives, flavorings, or colors. The only thing in the bottle is pure bourbon!
Buy the Best Quality Bourbon You Can Afford
While some cocktails rely on syrups and flavors that can disguise (or at least mask) alcohol, these bourbon drinks are truly all about the bourbon itself.
That’s why I recommend spending a bit more to get a good quality bourbon. I took the liberty of trying several and have a clear favorite bourbon maker, Four Roses.
When you want the bourbon to be front and center, or if you plan on sipping it on the rocks, go with Four Roses Single Barrel. However, if you are mixing in several other flavors like citrus or spices (like in many of the bourbon drinks below) then I recommend their Small Batch variety.
11 Must-Try Easy Bourbon Cocktails
Now, onto the good part: the bourbon drinks. Here you’ll find recipes ranging from twists on classics to new bold combinations.
The diverse flavors in this cocktail make for a bold, new experience. This is one of my favorite easy bourbon cocktails thanks to the combination of lemon, bourbon, and a lovely sage-infused simple syrup.
The spiciness of bourbon and warm ginger beer perfectly balances out with a refreshing sweetness and tang from lime juice. Muddle in jalapeno and strawberries to enhance this sweet yet spicy drink.
Looking for easy bourbon cocktail recipes to make for the holidays? This one is a winner—not only does it look festive with floating cranberries and a sprig of rosemary as a garnish, but this drink warms you from head to toe.
In fact, this is one of my go-to holiday cocktails for my friends and family at Bayberry house this season.
This frozen cocktail is another that has a special place in my heart. It may seem counterintuitive, but my family always serves frozen cocktails (or “slushes” as we call them) during the holiday season.
For this slush, you’ll need bourbon, orange juice, cherry juice, bitters, lemon-lime soda water (yes, sodas like Sprite totally work), and a few other ingredients.
You’ll want to make this one 10-12 hours in advance so it has freezing time. But I promise the extra effort will be worth it.
Remember when I said I wasn’t always a bourbon fan? This is the drink that made me reconsider my position on this spirit.
To make this cranberry bourbon cocktail, you’ll need to whip up a rosemary sage simple syrup (it’s easier than it sounds, promise). Combine it with cranberry juice, bourbon, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and this drink may have you changing your mind about bourbon drinks too!
I took the classic old fashioned recipe and fancified it a bit with the addition of apple cider and pure maple syrup. This one tastes like fall in a glass to me.
A few sips and you’ll fall in love with this new old fashioned too.
Ever heard of a Moscow mule? This is its southern cousin, the Kentucky mule.
2 oz of bourbon, a few squeezes of lime, and zesty ginger beer make for one of my all-time favorite easy bourbon cocktails. Pour a glass and see what I mean.
This Christmas cocktail has a refreshing and delicious taste that will make your mouth water. It’s made with orange juice, ginger syrup (gotta have some Christmas spice), and cranberry juice as well as club soda.
This drink is served over ice and garnished with orange slices and fresh cranberries. While this is a bourbon drink, you can even switch out booze if desired. Vodka and rye whiskey both work well in this cocktail.
Here’s a fall-forward version of the typical old fashioned. Using maple syrup instead of simple syrup and black walnut bitters instead of dashes of angostura bitters makes this recipe really pop. And yes, I even added pure pumpkin puree into this recipe…does that mean we can call it a fruit juice?
Shaking the ingredients together before giving them a strain in a cocktail shaker is essential in this recipe to get a smooth velvety flavor. Don’t skip it! Simply giving the drink a stir won’t yield the same results.
If you haven’t noticed a pattern yet, I love doing twists on classic cocktails here on IBC. This cranberry old fashioned is definitely one of the more simple bourbon drinks with just three ingredients: cranberry simple syrup, bourbon whiskey, and a few dashes Angostura bitters.
Then garnish with an orange peel, cranberries, and a sprig of rosemary for a pop of color.
If nothing else, this post is worth checking out to see a cranberry bog in the middle of NYC. Yup – you’ll just have to look and see what I mean.
11. Bourbon Cherries
Okay, technically this isn’t a cocktail. But, I use bourbon cherries as a garnish in many of my recipes (such as the pumpkin old fashioned cocktail above).
This bourbon cherry recipe is easy to follow and lasts for up to a year in the fridge. I like to make these in batches and gift them out to friends along with a bottle of my favorite bourbon.
That’s a Wrap on Easy Bourbon Cocktails!
There you have it – 11 easy bourbon cocktails that practically anyone will enjoy. Let me know in the comments which one you’ll be trying first, or if you have another bourbon drink to share. Cheers!