Whiskey bourbon bottles - Whiskey Bear Bar Lexington, KentuckyThere’s always time for a cocktail, especially when you’re tired of the usual beer and wine. While bourbon may not be your first thought for your cocktail’s liquor, it’s a trusty whiskey made in the U.S. and composed of at least 51% corn mash. Bourbon is used in well-worn, reliable cocktail recipes as well as in some mixes that will be totally new to your taste buds.

Tried And True Classic Cocktails

Sometimes when you’re exploring the nightlife with friends, you want a drink that you know you will enjoy time after time. Here are some classics that you may or may not have known are bourbon-based.

  • Manhattan: Named after New York City’s famously busy borough with a bustling nightlife, the Manhattan is a go-to at any cocktail bar. The classic Manhattan is made with rye whiskey, but when you substitute it for bourbon you end up with a delicious twist. The rest of the classic recipe consists of vermouth, Angostura bitters, and a maraschino cherry for the garnish. Add an orange twist to the garnish for a burst of citrus.
  • Mint Julep: A staple at the Kentucky Derby, the Mint Julep is a classic that is delightfully refreshing. This cocktail is made with fresh mint leaves (crushed into the drink and as a garnish on top), seltzer, bourbon, and crushed ice. For a stronger mint flavor, it can also be made with a mint simple syrup.
  • Hot Toddy: A Hot Toddy is a cold cure and a cocktail all in one with its sinus-clearing spices and warm temperature. A classic Hot Toddy includes honey, bourbon, a lemon peel, and a cinnamon stick. Using Apple Bourbon instead of a regular bourbon adds a comforting seasonal twist. Other possible additions to mix up your Hot Toddy include strong black tea, cognac, Angostura bitters, nutmeg, and cloves.

Mix It Up With Craft Cocktails

When you’re out and enjoying your city’s nightlife, take the opportunity to try something new, like millennials tend to do. According to Technomic’s research, 18% of younger millennials — aged 21 to 24 — and 12% of older millennials — aged 25 to 34 — tried a new drink on their most recent occasion, while only 8% of the general population did so.

  • Blackberry Summer Smash: End your summer strong at your local bar with this fruity cocktail. The Blackberry Summer Smash is made with ginger beer, bourbon, lemon juice, blackberries, and basil leaves. This cocktail can easily be made into a mocktail by taking out the bourbon. The non-alcoholic ginger beer still gives it a sweet kick.
  • The Seelbach: This cocktail shares its name with the Louisville hotel where it was invented. The Seelbach contains Angostura bitters, Peychaud’s bitters, bourbon, champagne, and Cointreau.
  • Boulevardier: A cocktail with a lovely red-orange color, the Boulevardier is only made of bourbon, vermouth, and Campari. The sweet bourbon and bitter Campari balance each other for just the right, refreshing blend.

With these options, you’re ready to tackle drinks outside of your comfort zone or stay neatly within it. No matter what, order a drink that brings you joy and you are sure to have a great night.