For some, bourbon is a winter staple. For others, it’s a lifestyle. No matter why or when you added a bottle to your bar cart, VinePair is here to help you reimagine the classic spirit.
With flavor notes like chocolate, pineapple, smoky chile, and raspberry jam, the recipes below offer something for everyone. Some play up the warming spices that dust winter cabinets, while others offer a tropical island getaway for homebound snowbirds.
Keep reading for the details on the easiest ways to elevate bourbon this season.
The Buttered Pecan Old Fashioned
When it’s too chilly for sundaes, you can switch to this ice cream-inspired cocktail. Trade out your favorite scoop for buttered pecan simple syrup, then combine with 2 ounces of bourbon, a few dashes of aromatic bitters, and top it off with an orange slice. If the weather has you feeling nuts, go ahead and garnish with some extra pecans for good measure.
The Ancient Old Fashioned
While there’s nothing ancient about sesame-infused bourbon, this clever recipe riffs on one of the world’s oldest cocktails. Never heard of “fat-washing?” In this recipe, it’s easy. The term refers to infusing a spirit with a fatty liquid (like the sesame oil used here) and then removing the oil to preserve the natural texture of your bourbon. To do this, simply freeze your bourbon after infusing, and the fat will rise to the top. Once frozen, you can skim the lipids off and combine the spirit with luxuries like mole bitters, Benedictine, and Cognac. Then, if you’re still feeling fancy, garnish with one lantern chili.
You don’t have to live in the Big Apple to love apple brandy. This cocktail combines the fan fave with bourbon, maple syrup, citrus, and Ancho Reyes chile liqueur. You can thicken the base by throwing an egg white into the mix before shaking, which will round out the smokiness of the Ancho Reyes. Made with dried, matured poblano chiles, Ancho Reyes lends the perfect amount of spice to this otherwise sweet, seasonal drink.
The Tropical Toddy
Snowbirds, rejoice! Finally, a tropical option for all your warm cocktail needs. This Toddy gets its name from the use of Hamilton Pimento Dram, a Jamaican allspice liqueur. Shake it up with lemon, bourbon, and honey syrup, then pour into a mug and top with a little hot water.
The Smoke, Spice, and Everything Nice
This crowd pleaser combines bourbon and mezcal with strawberry syrup and aromatic bitters. The mix of smoky spices and fruit transforms the drink into something aromatic, delicious, and perfect for batching.
The Grownup Thin Mint
When you start to deplete your stash of frozen Thin Mints, this cocktail can satisfy your craving. Inspired by the classic Girl Scout cookie, this drink combines Dutch Vandermint Liqueur with Fernet Branca Menta to create a mint-chocolate flavor. If you’re looking for a more decadent dessert, top it off with fresh whipped cream.
The Walnut and Maple Old Fashioned
This drink is for the slow sippers and gets its sweetness from maple syrup. It also calls for a few dashes of walnut bitters, but is otherwise a straightforward way to highlight your favorite bourbon. Serve it on the rocks and garnish with a freshly cracked walnut.
The Bourbon Apple Cider Sour
Still craving cider after apple season? Grab a jug from your favorite brand and combine the juice with bourbon, lemon, and cinnamon. Toss your ingredients in a shaker with one egg white, and shake once without ice. Once you finish, add some ice and repeat. Strain, serve, and garnish with cinnamon-dusted apple slices.
The Ruby Sour Cocktail
After your third batch of wintry mulled wine, you may be wondering what else you can do with your favorite red. This sour calls for bourbon, citrus, agave, and dry red vino for an elegant departure from classic winter flavors. After combining your ingredients, shaking, and straining, float the red wine on top. From there, you can enjoy your work of art or layer on as many aromatic herbs as you want.
The Banker’s Choice
You don’t have to be a barista to tackle this coffee cocktail. Simply steep your favorite coffee beans in a bowl of bourbon and strain for a java-infused spirit. Mix this up with maple syrup, crème de peche, and Lazzaroni Amaro for an elegant cocktail best served neat.
When you’re trying to coax a Negroni-lover into the world of bourbon, you may need to whip out a Boulevardier. The two cocktails are very similar, both calling for equal parts Campari and vermouth, but this version allows you to sub in bourbon for gin. Garnish with an orange peel to seal the deal, and gin lovers won’t know what hit them.
The Cranberry Apple Hot Toddy
Who says you can only use cranberries in Thanksgiving sauce? This cocktail mixes bourbon and honey with cranberry, apple, and lemon juice. By simmering the juices in a saucepan, you can cook the honey until it dissolves, then serve warm with a generous splash of bourbon.
The Strawberry And Maple Brown Derby
As winter slowly edges into spring, it’s time to dust off your jewel tones and mix up this fresh, fruit-forward cocktail. Chopped strawberries and grapefruit juice can step up to your spiciest bourbon, while maple syrup rounds everything out. This cocktail conjures stacks of fruit-filled pancakes and should be garnished with all your favorite berries.
The Bourbon Grapefruit Bitter
Keep cabin fever at bay with a sunny splash of grapefruit. This cocktail can be batched by mixing equal parts bourbon and grapefruit juice, then sweetening with maple syrup. From there, you can take the drink in any direction based on the bitters you use. We suggest trying anything from habanero, to orange, to chocolate bitters.
The Southern Knight
If you’re on a health juicer kick, this will knock your socks off. A simple mix of lemon juice, bourbon, and ginger beer is transformed by the addition of strawberry syrup — which can easily be made at home. Combine ingredients, shake, and strain into your favorite glassware, then garnish with the cutest strawberry available.
The Old Fashioned
In mixology, the Old Fashioned is a great place to begin or end. While the name may seem old-school, the Old Fashioned is always on trend. Striking the perfect balance of bourbon, bitters, and simple syrup will take practice, but over time, anyone can master it. Cutting the perfect citrus twist? Now that might be a little harder.
The Easy Eggnog Punch Recipe
The holidays only strike once a year, but they always seem to sneak up on us. Luckily, you can stay prepared with this quick hack for a boozy punch. Simply combine 3/4 cup of bourbon with a quart of store-bought eggnog, then grate fresh nutmeg over the top. When your guests arrive, feel free to take all the credit — you did mix it, after all.
The Southern Jam
Whether you stocked your winter cupboard full of summery jams or have one berry-forward favorite, this cocktail is easy to mix up and even easier to sip. Jam cocktails are popular in the South, and this recipe simply calls for bourbon, lemon juice, and a heaping teaspoon of jam. Mix this up with fresh fruit for extra sweetness, and try to remember the feeling of wearing shorts.
The Hawaiian Gold Rush
Sometimes, nestled beside the fire, a person can get too cozy. When you find yourself itching to ditch the fleece, reach for some grapefruit bitters and pineapple juice to reimagine winter bourbon. Combine all three with honey syrup and lemon juice, then shake with ice. Strain and serve over one large ice cube while imagining the tropical vacation you deserve.
The Suffering Bastard Riff
Despite its name, the Suffering Bastard happens to be a fairly elegant cocktail. Originally conceived as a hangover cure, the drink combines bourbon, gin, and ginger ale for an easy-drinking Highball. What takes this riff over the edge are a few dashes of cardamom vanilla Angostura bitters, which anyone can make at home — no suffering required.