While many of our favorite spirits are sourced from overseas, bourbon is distinctly American. In fact, there is a law in place to ensure that anything labeled as bourbon must be made in the United States, and most of the stuff is produced right in the state of Kentucky — home of the famous Bourbon Trail.

Bourbon falls under the wider spirits category of whiskey, and the reason why many believe it’s the most sippable liquor has a lot to do with another bourbon law: its mash bill, or the raw ingredients that go through fermentation to make an individual spirit. Bourbon’s mash bill must be comprised of at least 50 percent corn. That sweet corn is part of what gives bourbon its distinct, honeyed taste— made even more delicious thanks to its origin. Among other natural advantages, the state of Kentucky sits right atop of a bed of blue limestone, which filters out the harsh taste of iron from its water and deposits elements ideal for distilling, like calcium and magnesium.

Not all bourbons are made equal, though, and there are different bourbons that serve different occasions. While certain bourbons are made for slow sipping neat or on the rocks, others are favored by bartenders as the perfect bourbon for mixing into quality cocktails. Due to its especially high rye content, Bulleit Bourbon has a bold, spicy character with a finish that’s distinctively clean and smooth. It’s medium amber in color, with gentle spiciness and sweet oak aromas. The mid-palate is smooth with tones of maple, oak, and nutmeg, and the finish is long, dry, and satiny with a light toffee flavor. It makes Bulleit the ideal candidate for all your favorite bourbon cocktails.

These classic bourbon cocktails sit in a boozy pantheon of their own — timeless concoctions that are perfect for any reason and any season, but are especially satisfying during the chilly winter months when you need a little extra warmth in your belly. While everyone has their personal favorite, we’ve ranked our top five for serving with Bulleit, a bourbon just as classic as the recipes themselves.

1. The Old Fashioned

One of the first whiskey cocktails, and arguably the most popular: the Old Fashioned. Simply called Whiskey Cocktail when first invented in 1806, it was actually consumed by many in the morning as an eye-opener. When bartenders began to shake up more involved whiskey cocktails in the 1870s, an old-school movement was formed that rallied for “Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktails,” which led to the name change. Speaking of old school, technically the first Old Fashioneds were made before the popularization of bourbon, meaning they were made with rye. Thanks to Bulleit Bourbon’s unique mash bill with a high percentage of rye, it’s actually perfectly balanced for the optimal Old Fashioned. Sometimes, the best things never go out of style.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ¼ ounces Bulleit Bourbon
  • 2 bar spoons simple syrup
  • 3 dashes bitters
  • 1 orange peel

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add your Bulleit Bourbon, simple syrup, and bitters to a large rocks glass.
  2. Add a large “rock” or ice cube to your glass and give it a gentle stir with a bar spoon.
  3. Grab your orange peel and zest it over your drink to release its aromatic oils, then add the peel as a garnish.

2. The Whiskey Sour

While Old Fashioneds are perfect for slow sipping, we appreciate the zingy freshness and easy drinkability of the Whiskey Sour. Another storied classic, the earliest iterations of the Whiskey Sour were actually created and consumed by the British Navy in the 1800s. A lack of dependable water led Navy men to drink spirits, which they added citrus to in hopes of preventing scurvy. Sugar and water were added for taste, and voila. Today, some shake their Whiskey Sours up with an egg white to add a foamy head to the beverage. Whichever way you choose to enjoy it, the Whiskey Sour easily ranks as one of the best bourbon cocktails out there.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ½ ounces Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 Maraschino cherry

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add your Bulleit Bourbon, sugar, and lemon juice to an ice-filled cocktail shaker.
  2. Give it a good shake for 15-20 seconds and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
  3. Garnish with an orange slice and Mmraschino cherry.

3. The Boulevardier

Though a classic cocktail in its own right, the Boulevardier is often cast under the long shadow of its cocktail cousin, the Negroni. The two cocktails follow practically the same recipe, save for their main spirit star: gin or bourbon. The well-balanced Boulevardier was first introduced during Prohibition, and is still a mainstay at most classic cocktail bars. The original recipe calls for an orange wedge, but let your own preference determine whether you decide to stick or lemon twist.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ ounces Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1 ounce Italian aperitif
  • 1 ounce sweet red vermouth
  • 1 orange slice or lemon twist

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add your Bulleit Bourbon, Italian aperitif, and sweet vermouth to an ice-filled mixing glass and stir with a bar spoon.
  2. Strain into a chilled stemmed cocktail glass or rocks glass with fresh ice, and garnish with an orange slice or twist of lemon rind.

4. The Mint Julep

A true drink of bourbon’s home state, many associate the Mint Julep with its signature metal cup and sunny days spent at the Kentucky Derby. The truth is that the Julep actually has ancient origins in Persia and was prescribed as a health elixir. Fast forward, and steep British import taxes had people switching their recipes from rum and brandy to more affordable Kentucky-made bourbon. The refreshing drink was dubbed the Derby’s official drink in 1939, and continues to keep people coming back for second and third today.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ⅓ ounces Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 5-6 sprigs of fresh mint, stems removed
  • A splash of cold water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add your mint leaves and sugar to a rocks glass or julep cup, and muddle together with a cocktail muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon.
  2. Add your Bulleit Bourbon and a splash of cold water, and top with plenty of crushed ice.
    Stir it up, and garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

5. The Bourbon Manhattan

Number 5 on our list is the Manhattan, a classic cocktail that can be made with either bourbon or rye whiskey. While its history remains disputed, all theories at least lead to the New York City borough of its origin: Manhattan. Regardless of how it came to be, the Manhattan is another beloved whiskey cocktail whose well-balanced flavor makes it hard to beat, even over 100 years after its conception.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ounce Bulleit Bourbon
  • ½ ounce Italian vermouth
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • 1 orange twist
  • 1 brandied or Maraschino cherry

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add your Bulleit Bourbon, sweet vermouth, and dashes of bitters to an ice-filled mixing glass and stir with a bar spoon.
  2. Strain into a chilled stemmed cocktail glass or rocks glass with fresh ice, and garnish with an orange slice or twist of lemon rind.

This article is sponsored by Bulleit.