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9 Easy and Must-Try Bourbon Cocktail Recipes

Introduction to Bourbon Cocktail Recipes

Bourbon sits at the forefront of American spirits.

Its origin is riddled with countless spirit makers who’ve distilled and aged the whiskey, perfecting the art of bourbon production. Today, enthusiasts follow its rich history through landmarks along the bourbon trail, touring distilleries spread across the US. Bottle after bottle, fans continue to seek their favorite bourbons and discover new flavors from famous distilleries.

To appreciate the bourbon culture, enthusiasts need to respect the beautiful bourbon cocktails born from coveted bourbon whiskey. Drinks such as the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned have become a staple in many bars and a favorite to the palettes of connoisseurs alike.

There are plenty of other easy bourbon cocktails left untouched for every Manhattan and Old Fashioned made. Many other cocktails can be made from Bourbon with ingredients like club soda, orange juices, cherry juices – a Seven and Seven, Blackberry Bourbon Smash, Bourbon Sour, or even an Alabama Slammer. If you’re looking to expand your arsenal of delicious recipes for whiskey cocktails, look no further. No matter the occasion, any one of these classic bourbon drinks are sure to be a hit.



Among bourbon cocktails, the Manhattan is a favorite known to be a staple behind many bars. The Manhattan is arguably one of the best bourbon cocktails, famous for its classic combination of Bourbon, vermouth, and aromatic bitters. Although the cocktail is traditionally made with American Rye whiskey, Bourbon places a twist on the classic recipe. The Manhattan is assertive in flavor but is one that every connoisseur respects.


  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Substitute with New Riff Kentucky Straight Rye)
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 Dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2-3 Luxardo Cherries


  • Add New Riff Bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters into a mixing glass.
  • Stir, then strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  • Garnish with 2-3 Luxardo Cherries.

Old Fashioned Cocktail

The Old Fashioned is often coined the King of Bourbon Cocktails, and for a good reason. History traces the Old Fashioned back to the early 19th century when a combination of spirits, bitters, water, and sugar was used in this traditional drink. The Old Fashioned was simply an homage from the latter half of the century when drinkers wanted an “old-fashioned” cocktail from years before.

Today, Old Fashioned bourbon cocktails are made similar to the classic recipe but with slight variations. These varieties are what makes so many bourbon cocktails from different bartenders so unique. The most important rule is to mix with good Bourbon.


  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • 1 oz Simple Syrup
  • 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Orange Peel
  • 1 Luxardo Cherry


  • Add New Riff Bourbon, Simple Syrup, Bitters, and ice into a mixing glass.
  • Stir, then strain into a rocks glass with ice.
  • Garnish with an orange peel and a Luxardo cherry.

New York Sour

The traditional Whiskey Sour is made from American Rye whiskey, citrus, egg white, and simple sugar syrup. This bourbon sour is known as one of the most famous and best bourbon cocktails in rotation today. In addition to being one of the best bourbon sours invented, the Whiskey Sour has stood the test of time as it is beloved by many across the US. Although variations have been made, there is one bourbon sour that stands out from the rest – the New York Sour.

The New York Sour riffs on the classic Bourbon Sour with a float of dry red wine. Adding red wine enhances the aromatic qualities of the whiskey sour while adding a red tint to the bourbon drink. The New York sour mix is simple to make while having a complex flavor profile.


  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh lemon
  • 1-1.5 oz simple syrup
  • 1 oz egg white
  • Float with red wine


  • Add New Riff Bourbon, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white into a cocktail shaker without ice.
  • Shake for 30 seconds. Open the cocktail shaker and add ice, shake for another 30 seconds.
  • Double strain into a highball glass with ice.
  • Pour the red wine slowly over a bar spoon to keep red wine from sinking to the bottom of the drink.

Boulevardier Cocktail

The Boulevardier was invented by Erskine Gwynne, the publisher of the famous Boulevardier magazine in Paris. The famous 1920s cocktail was popularized by its inclusion in the 1927 book “Barflies and Cocktails.” Gwynne was a regular at Harry MacElhone’s bar, where the bourbon drink was inspired.

The beverage riffs on the classic Negroni with a new combination of Bourbon to make a warm and rich flavor. This cocktail is perfect when combined with cold winter’s evening.


  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 orange peel
  • Garnish with luxardo cherries


  • Add New Riff Bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth, and ice into a mixing glass.
  • Stir, then strain into a rocks glass with ice.
  • Garnish with an orange peel.

Hot Toddy Cocktail

The Hot Toddy is the perfect winter cocktail and is often crowned the “Grandfather of hot cocktails.” There’s no better beverage to warm you up.

This cocktail comes from the middle of the 18th century and consists of spirits, sugar, hot water, and a lemon peel to garnish. Depending on the location, easy bourbon cocktails are composed of many different spirits. In the US, this hot cocktail classically uses Bourbon to create its delicious taste.


  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 1 oz Honey
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick to garnish
  • 1 candied bourbon lemon wheel to garnish


  • In a saucepan, bring water to a simmer, then pour into a mug
  • Add whiskey, honey, and lemon juice to the mug.
  • Stir mug until honey is dissolved into hot water.
  • Garnish with a candied bourbon lemon wheel and cinnamon stick.

Paper Plane

The Paper Plane is a new cocktail invented in 2008 by Sam Ross, the co-owner of Attaboy and Diamond Reef in New York City. The new drink comprises equal parts Bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino Quintessential, and lemon juice. This fairly new drink is becoming a cult classic as it strikes a near-perfect balance between sour and bitter flavor profiles.

Those who choose the New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon as their choice of whiskey in a Paper Plane will appreciate its heftiness and bodies. Remember never to overshake, as the drink should be cold but never watered down.


  • 1.5 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 oz campari
  • ¾ oz Amaro Nonino
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz demerara simple
  • 2 dashes of angostura bitters


  • Add New Riff Bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino Quintessential, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Shake until chilled but not overshaken
  • Strain into a cool cocktail glass


Sazerac Cocktail

The Sazerac is a class relative to the Old Fashioned cocktail and has been in rotation as a trademarked beverage since the early 1900s. Known as the official cocktail of New Orleans, this drink is one of the most famous whiskey cocktails.

A perfect Sazerac is an easy bourbon drink full of depth in flavor, as it combines equal parts of both American Rye and cognac. The soft and bold flavors come from pairing the two spirits, which produces an accentuated licorice flavor similar to absinthe.


  • ¾ oz lemon tarragon simple syrup
  • 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 2 ounce New Riff Kentucky Rye Whiskey
  • 1 torched lemon peel to garnish
  • Absinthe to rinse the glass


  • Rinse the glass with absinthe, and discard excess back to the bottle. Set the glass aside.
  • Add all other ingredients to a mixing glass filled with ice.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Strain into prepared glass and garnish with expressed torched lemon peel.

Mint Julep

In season, the Mint Julep is the crowned king of the Kentucky Derby bourbon drinks. This refreshing beverage is made from Bourbon, sugar, fresh mint, and ice. Mint juleps are one of the best bourbon cocktails for summer, but can also be enjoyed any time of year. For those who need a quick refresher year-round, we have just the right recipe for you.

The Mint Julep is classically served in a silver julep cup but can be substituted for a rocks glass. Be sure to use a high-quality bourbon to keep the crushed ice from diluting the cocktail. Don’t let Derby Day be the only reason for busting out this fabulous cocktail.


  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • Fresh mint sprig for garnishing
  • Angostura bitters (optional)


  • Add mint leaves to the bottom of a chilled rocks glass
  • Add New Riff Bourbon, simple syrup, and ice to glass.
  • Stir until slight haze begins to form above the liquid
  • Add bitters and mint sprig to garnish as needed.

Kentucky Mule

There’s more than one way to make a mule. The famous Moscow Mule might be hailed as one of the most popular bourbon drinks in the US. For those who don’t have vodka on hand, substituting for Bourbon can be the best way to maintain its refreshing flavor. Bourbon cuts through the ginger, adding even more flavor than the original Moscow Mule.

The Kentucky Mule is an easy bourbon drink to make as long as you have the mandatory chilled copper mug on hand. The copper will continue to cool the drink as you sip, which is vital in maintaining the flavor profile of the classic mule. One way to take this cocktail a step further is to garnish it with mint.


  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • ½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Ginger beer
  • Mint sprig to garnish


  • Add New Riff Bourbon and lime juice to chill mule mug.
  • Fill the mug with ice and ginger beer to the top.
  • Add a mint sprig to garnish.


Our Riff on the Best Bourbon Cocktail Recipes

Here are some of the best insider tips from New Riff’s experts on easy bourbon cocktails that will help you jazz up your favorite drinks when the “same-old” becomes a little too “same-old.”

  • Change your spirit. Substitute other spirits in place of the traditional in any bourbon cocktail recipe. Oftentimes, replacing our straight Kentucky bourbon (our favorite bourbon), with the New Riff Kentucky Rye is a spectacular way to spice up your cocktail. Even using a small batch or single barrel whiskey can spice up the flavor profile of your cocktail. Remember not all whiskey tastes the same, and switching things up can easily add a spin to any of our classic cocktails.
  • Try other sweeteners. Try using other sweeteners like agave, honey syrup, pure maple syrup, or even infused syrups with citrus or fresh herbs. Adding maple syrup or honey syrup can completely change the sweet profile. Vanilla, almond, orange extract, and apple cider are great options as well. Adding tea, apple cider, or orange juice to your simple syrup can also add some fun to your cocktail.
  • Use different bitters. There are endless options of bitters that completely change the flavor of your cocktail. Angostura bitters are excellent but experiment with others such as orange bitters. Introduce flavors like cardamom, black walnut, and toasted almond. Mix one flavor of bitters with another to sharpen the profiles.
  • Add unique garnishes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with garnishes in bourbon drinks. An orange twist is a classic, but take it a step further by torching or dehydrating it! As for the cherry, Luxardo is just to good.



  • What is a good mix with bourbon?
    • Bourbon mixes well many beverages including cola, soda water, coffee, orange juice, fortified wine, and other spirits. Bourbon is a versatile spirit that can be enjoyed on its own or mixed in a cocktail.
  • Is bourbon good for cocktails?
    • Bourbon is good for cocktails and can be substituted for spirits in many recipes. It can be enjoyed hot or cold and mixes well with virtually any ingredient.
  • How do beginners drink bourbon?
    • The best way for beginners to drink bourbon is to slowly sip it neat, on the rocks, or with a splash of water. To fully appreciate the spirit, it’s good for beginners to try bourbon with minimal ingredients mixed in, but there’s nothing wrong with trying a Manhattan or Old Fashioned to start your bourbon journey.



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