21 Bourbon Cocktail Recipes to Make Tonight

New York Sour
Photo: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

When used thoughtfully and stored correctly, bourbon can do double duty on your home bar and in the pantry as a baking staple. When we're not whipping up a Maple Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake for a crowd, we're enjoying riffs on the classic Old Fashioned, or serving up a refreshing mule in an iconic pounded metal cup. Bourbon (which, in case you didn't know, is a kind of whiskey) is a versatile spirit for all seasons and all occasions, and these cocktail recipes showcase its warming, refreshing, and absolutely delicious qualities.

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Bufala Negra

Bufala Negra
© Wendell T. Webber

Who says pantry staples can't live on your bar cart? Use a high-quality balsamic vinegar to add an unexpectedly tart punch to this herbaceous bourbon-based classic.

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Maple-Bourbon Smash

Maple-Bourbon Smash
Michael Turek

Robb Turner uses his richly flavored dark amber syrup to make this riff on an Old-Fashioned cocktail.

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Bourbon Blackberry Collins

Cocktail recipe: Bourbon Blackberry Collins
© Lucas Allen

This versatile Collins accommodates raspberries or cherries just as nicely as it does blackberries. Don't have bourbon on hand? Try this recipe with vodka or rum.

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© Tina Rupp

Brandy-soaked cherries and small-batch Knob Creek bourbon distinguish this almond-tinged whiskey sour served in the restaurant and lounge of Le Meridien hotel in Minneapolis.

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Shadow Woman

Shadow Woman
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

This Old-Fashioned–style cocktail gets a fruity kick from pear brandy and gentle sweetness from honey; the bourbon adds a bite without overpowering the drink. Pear brandy is a highly aromatic and unsweetened liquor made from fermented pears.

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Bourbon-Tea Julep

Bourbon Tea Julep
Kelly Marshall

Tannins from black tea add a beautiful hint of bitterness to this twist on a classic mint julep. The citrus oil, oleo saccharum, is made by steeping lemon peels in sugar. Its bright flavor is the perfect lift to finish each sip.

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New York Sour

New York Sour
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

The perfect balance of fruity red wine and smoky-sweet bourbon, the New York Sour cocktail is a classic for a reason. Shaking with large ice cubes chills the cocktail without diluting it — and those large cubes look great in a rocks glass, too. If you're feeling adventurous, add an egg white to the shaker for a thicker viscosity.

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Banana-Rum Old-Fashioned

Banana Rum Old Fashioned Recipe
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

A bold, strong cocktail with both high-proof bourbon and light rum gets a hint of floral sweetness from mellow crème de banane.

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Classic Mint Julep

Mint Julep
Photo by Huge Galdones / Food Styling by Christina Zerkis

The Mint Julep has been the iconic drink of the Kentucky Derby since 1939, but references to the cocktail go as far back as the year 900, when it was sipped for medicinal purposes. When New Orleans bartender Chris McMillian was at Bar UnCommon, he recited an ode while mixing Mint Juleps, written in the 1890s by a Kentucky newspaperman, that calls the bourbon and mint cocktail "the very dream of drinks."

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Commodore 64

Commodore 64
© Tina Rupp

This predinner drink at is Jason Chan's orange-infused variation on the Commodore No. 2 (bourbon, crème de cacao, lemon juice and grenadine) from the 1935 Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book.

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Winter Berries Cocktail

Winter berries Cocktail
Eva Kolenko

Fruity, rich, and mildly sweet dark-berry liqueur plays well with both effervescent sparkling wine in this Winter Berries cocktail, while grain-forward bourbon adds a touch of heat. Garnish this bubbly sipper with a thin half-moon slice of lemon.

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Ginger Julep

Ginger Julep
© Michael Crook

Bobby Flay's gingery take on a Southern julep is fresh and lively. He adds fresh orange juice and a ginger mint syrup that make this cocktail sing.

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Whiskey Chai

Whiskey Chai
© Fredrika Stjärne

Think of this comforting whiskey chai as a nightcap meant to satiate a crowd after a big night out. We're especially fond of the Zanzibar peppercorns from Burlap and Barrel, which add a bright, almost fruity touch to this sweet sipper.

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Tamarind Whiskey Sour

Tamarind Whiskey Sour
© Chris Chen

Tamarind imbues any dish with a tell-tale sharp, sweet, yet tart kick, and adds just the right amount of excitement to surprise even the most dedicated drinker of this classic cocktail.

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Big Texan Bourbon and Grapefruit Cocktail

The Big Texan Bourbon-and-Grapefruit Cocktail
© Jody Horton

Fresh grapefruit juice and basil are at the core of this simple, crowd-pleasing bourbon-based cocktail. Serve it in an ice-filled rocks glass and garnish with a cocktail cherry for a little visual intrigue.

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Paper Plane

Paper Plane
Guillermo Riveros / Food Styling by Oset Babür-Winter

Though the Paper Plane is easy to put together and it's plenty easy-drinking, it offers a complex flavor profile: still bright and fresh, but with enough heft to make it autumn-appropriate.

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Apricot Nectarine Julep

Apricot-Nectarine Julep
Photo by Kelsey Hansen / Food Styling by Lauren McAnelly / Prop Styling by Sue Mitchell

A puree of roasted apricots and nectarines brings out bourbon's notes of vanilla and nutmeg, making for the ultimate late-summer cocktail. Pour some of the reserved puree on top of the crushed ice for a cocktail that almost resembles a Hawaiian shave ice. The same roast-and-puree technique can be used for more stone fruits, such as plums and sour cherries.

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Caffè Di Alpi

Caffè Di Alpi
© Wendell T. Webber

Bartender Steve Peters dreamed up Caffè di Alpi ("Alpine Coffee" in Italian) as a deliciously warming après-ski drink.

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Vanilla Old Fashioned

Vanilla Old Fashioned
Carey Jones

At The Woodsman Tavern in Portland, Oregon, mixologist Evan Zimmerman infuses cherry liqueur with the smoked tea Lapsang souchong. The result? An excellent riff on an old-fashioned.

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Bizzy Izzy

Bizzy Izzy
Savanna Sturkie

Oloroso sherry has been used in cocktails since before Prohibition, its sweetness and body a great match for aged spirits like bourbon. Tom Bullock uses both in the Bizzy Izzy, a cocktail from the classic 1917 book The Ideal Bartender.

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glasses of homemade eggnog
Photo by Adam Friedlander / Food Styling by Pearl Jones

To make rich, creamy homemade eggnog, you'll need a makeshift double boiler (in this case, a bowl and a saucepan) and a whisk. In just two steps, you'll have a festive drink made ahead. Be sure to chill it thoroughly before serving, and give it a final whisk, too, to make sure everything is blended.

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