Affectionately known as America’s native spirit, bourbon’s popularity is unmatched in the United States. Thanks to distinctive flavors such as sweet and creamy corn, spiced vanilla, charred oak, and more, it easily wins over drinkers and appeals to a broad range of palates. And, just as is the case with any spirit, there is an assortment of ways to enjoy bourbon and everyone has their favorite.
Be it in a classic cocktail, an indulgent dessert, sipped neat, or lightly chilled over ice, it’s hard to count the ways you can’t enjoy this whiskey. As the category continues to expand with new brands and expressions, we expect to see that list grow. However, for now, we’ll stick to what we know. Here are our favorite ways to drink bourbon.
“For bourbon, neat is the only way to go” —Keith Beavers, tastings director
“This may be cheating but one of my favorite ways to drink bourbon is putting it in desserts. I love a bourbon icing or a spiced bourbon cake with drizzled icing and some kind of crunchy nuts on top, like pecans. The spices of the bourbon really add something special to a dessert (I don’t have a huge sweet tooth so it’s the perfect blend of sweet and savory). Plus, having a little on the side in perhaps a bourbon pear cider while you’re making the dessert never hurt anybody.” —Olivia White, editorial intern
“I love a light, easy-drinking cocktail — especially when the weather’s as hot and sticky as it has been this summer. When I want something refreshing and easy to make, a classic Gold Rush is where it’s at.” —Katie Brown, editor
“While once in a while I appreciate a nice bourbon neat, such as Blanton’s, I do love to make seasonal bourbon cocktails during the cold weather months. In the fall, my go-to bourbon cocktail is simply bourbon, apple cider, cinnamon, and lemon juice. In winter, I love to make a Cranberry Bourbon Fizz, with cranberry juice, bourbon, and lemon juice, topped with ginger beer.” —Allison Kuklinski, manager, brand partnerships and activations
“There are two ways I like to drink bourbon and both depend on the season. The first way is neat on a chilly fall day or really freezing winter night. The second is in a bourbon smash with fresh lemon juice and mint leaves during the spring.” —Jessica Fields, assistant editor
“Either in a Perfect Manhattan (made with bourbon, obviously) or over one large ice cube.” —Joanna Sciarrino, editor in chief
“I’ll confess: I’m not a huge fan of bourbon but my Granddad Bob is. I have distinct memories of sipping hot toddies at my grandparents’ kitchen table whenever I was feeling under the weather. (I also have distinct memories of my granddad daring my 11-year-old self to take a shot of bourbon, which might explain my present-day aversion to it.) So for that reason and that reason alone, my favorite way to drink bourbon is in a Hot Toddy.” —Sylvie Baggett, branded content editor
“I mean I could go with ‘In a cocktail, Old Fashioned is the epitome of an oldie but a goodie,’ but if we are talking low stakes and high reward, it’s got to be on the rocks for me.” —Rob Gearity, senior director, integrated marketing
“I prefer my bourbon with a little tang to it, so I like to mix in lemon juice and a little maple syrup and throw in the lemon peel. I also really love this apple cider sour recipe too, especially for fall!” —Bobbie Thorn, account manager, brand partnerships
“You can hold off on the Old Fashioned for me — if I’m drinking a bourbon cocktail it’s almost certainly going to be a Gold Rush. But most commonly you’ll find me sipping bourbon neat from a Glencairn rather than a rocks glass, and maybe with a few drops of water, especially if the proof point approaches hazmat levels.” —Tim McKirdy, managing editor