There are a lot of quintessentials for summer, and a good cocktail on the patio is one of them. Here are three easy classic bourbon cocktails–one with a sparkling twist!
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Of all the whiskeys that are out there, bourbon takes the crown. At least, that’s the case in my book because I find bourbon tastes sweeter than other whiskeys. When people sip on Scotch, for example, they make comments about how it’s smoky, peaty, floral or fruity. When I sip on Scotch, all I feel is burning and I always regret giving it another shot (no pun intended). I tried hard to like Scotch, really, I did. I can tolerate it in a Scotch and soda, but I guess it’s one of those drinks that aren’t meant to be mixed in a cocktail. That’s why I like bourbon, there’s a lot you can do with it.
SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED A GOOD COCKTAIL
I’m not a big drinker, but sometimes you just need a good cocktail. Whenever I go to my in-laws for dinner, there’s always some kind of pre-dinner drink to whet the appetite. Everyone gathers in the living room and catches up over a beer, a glass of sparkling wine or a cocktail. Have you ever done this at home? I find that my generation has a tendency to skip over this extra step. We get right down to the nitty gritty and cut out this wonderful warm up, or it’s BYOB. I get it. Liquor is expensive, and many of us don’t have well stocked bars like our parents, but I figure if you’re going to the trouble of gathering people together for a dinner, you might as well make everyone feel extra welcome with a good cocktail.
THESE CLASSIC BOURBON COCKTAILS ARE EASY AND AFFORDABLE
There are cocktails out there that call for two or more liqueurs in order to make them. That’s a bit of an overkill, especially if you don’t have vermouth, crème de menthe, or some of those other bottles that don’t get used very often. The thing I like about these bourbon cocktails is that they’re straight shooters. All you need is ice and a few other ingredients that won’t break the bank. They’re also easy to make. They don’t call for egg whites–but boy, do I love a frothy bourbon sour–or a cocktail shaker. Sorry, James Bond, we’re stirring, not shaking. So which classic bourbon cocktails are we making? Let’s get to it, shall we?
CLASSIC BOURBON COCKTAIL #1: THE MINT JULEP
I planted mint in my garden this year and it’s starting to creep because that’s what mint does, so it was plain to me that I had to make a mint julep. This cocktail keeps thousands of people refreshed during the Kentucky Derby in May, and it’s no small wonder: it’s an icy drink! It’s traditionally served in a pewter cup, so unless you have one lying around, don’t sweat it. I went out and got a copper cup that’s typical for Moscow Mules and it’s gorgeous. The reason for these special cups is that they’re good insulators. If you could keep your iced drink cold for a longer period of time, wouldn’t you?
It’s hard to see in the picture, but that cup is frosty! When you’re making a mint julep, you’re not supposed to hold the cup in the middle, lest you ruin the effect. Another best practice is to not over muddle the mint. We lightly crush the mint to release the oils, but we don’t pulverize it to a pulp. Also, take care to select smaller mint leaves because they’re more tender. By the way, the stalk of mint isn’t purely decorative, it’s olfactory. When you take a sip from the julep, your nose is buried in mint.
MINT JULEP INGREDIENTS
3 oz bourbon
2 sugar cubes
5-6 mint leaves
1 stalk of mint
MINT JULEP INSTRUCTIONS
- Add the sugar and mint to a pewter or copper cup and crush the sugar, muddling it with the mint.
- Stir in the bourbon.
- Add the ice and stick in the stalk of mint.
CLASSIC BOURBON COCKTAIL #2: THE OLD FASHIONED
Our next drink in this classic bourbon cocktails edition is the Old Fashioned. I can’t help but equate this drink with something Don Draper drinks in Mad Men. It’s iconic with its orange peel and maraschino cherry, and it makes whiskey go down sweet and smooth. I really love this cocktail. It’s simple to make, but impressive enough to serve to your guests. I mean, when’s the last time a host offered to make you an Old Fashioned? Here’s how you make this classic bourbon cocktail…
OLD FASHIONED INGREDIENTS
2 oz bourbon
2 sugar cubes
3 drops of Angostura Bitters
1 orange wedge
2 ice cubes
1-2 maraschino cherries
OLD FASHIONED INSTRUCTIONS
- Place the sugar cubes in a high ball glass and drop the Angostura bitters on top. Crush the cubes.
- Muddle in the orange making sure to avoid pulverizing the rind and pith.
- Pour in the bourbon, add the lemon zest and ice cubes.
- Give it a stir and finish with the maraschino cherries.
A NOTE ON THE OLD FASHIONED
I’ve seen variations where a dash of club soda is added to the sugar cubes to help them dissolve. If you have club soda on hand and want to try this, be my guest, but the orange has enough juice to do this. On that note, if you want something that’s less sweet, you can omit the orange wedge and add a twist at the very end to keep the orange flavour.
CLASSIC BOURBON COCKTAIL #3: BOURBON LEMONADE
In the past I have always just added bourbon to lemonade and called it a bourbon lemonade, but I wanted to make a handcrafted cocktail this time around. Drawing inspiration from the ever classic Old Fashioned, I pulverized a couple of sugar cubes and muddled it with a wedge of lemon. I put a modern twist on it by using sparkling water instead of still. What I got was something that was mildly tart and wholly refreshing.
SPARKLING BOURBON LEMONADE INGREDIENTS
2 oz bourbon
2 sugar cubes
1 lemon wedge
2 ice cubes
SPARKLING BOURBON LEMONADE INSTRUCTIONS
- Crush the sugar cubes in a highball class and muddle with the lemon wedge, avoiding the rind and pith.
- Add the lemon juice.
- Toss in the ice cubes and top off with sparkling water.
- If you want a stronger lemonade, add more lemon juice or a pinch of lemon zest.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE CLASSIC BOURBON COCKTAILS?
There you have it! Three classic bourbon cocktails to keep you cool this summer. Which one of these have you tried? Is there one you feel deserves to be up there? Are there any funky variations you feel I should know about? Let me know in the comments below!
CLASSIC BOURBON COCKTAILS VIDEO
SHOP THIS POST:
- My copper cup
- My bar set
- Angostura bitters (This is what they look like, but get them at the grocery store. They’re overpriced on Amazon).
PIN IT FOR LATER
Love and gratitude,