Bourbon is an American whiskey that has been distilled and aged in barrels. It varies in quality and price; usually, the longer it has been aged, the higher the quality and, of course, the steeper the price.
The lower-end bourbons tend to be more aggressive with an over-expressive burn, while the higher-end ones are smooth, flavorful, and honey-like.
The prevalent bourbon flavors are caramel, vanilla, oak, toasted rye bread, corn, nutmeg, cinnamon, honey, brown sugar, and chocolate, but some of the very refined brands also have bourbon varieties tasting like dried fruit with a slightly smoky whiff.
These bourbon flavors are more expressive in the higher quality brands, while the lower quality ones are dominated by the aggressiveness of the alcohol combined with an unnecessary burn and are therefore served chilled to tone down these notes.
Nevertheless, bourbon is a very strong drink and is definitely not for everybody, especially if you have it neat. If you are not a strong bourbon enthusiast and therefore knowledgeable in how to drink which type of bourbon, chances are you will find it unpleasantly strong and won’t be able to enjoy even the best and highest quality bourbon.
Luckily, bourbon is an excellent drink for mixing, and it is a signature ingredient in cocktails, such as the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned cocktails. Moreover, you don’t have to mix it into a cocktail, as regular tap water can also do a great job diluting the strong whiffs you’d like to avoid.
It is essential to mention that the bourbon doesn’t have to be too strong or low quality for you to mix it, as you can mix even the best ones if you like them better that way.
10 Best Bourbon Mixers
Regardless of whether you are a bourbon fan or not, the bourbon mixes are so versatile that there is something for everyone.
So, in the following article, I will discuss what you can mix with bourbon, give you some recipes, and provide you with some tips on how to improve the taste of bourbon so you can enjoy it more.
If you are a bourbon enthusiast, but you can’t handle its strength, and you don’t like how it burns, you may need to mix it with water instead of giving it up altogether. The water diluted bourbon tastes just like the bourbon you are using but is slightly toned down, and it can be very refreshing.
The making procedure is a piece of cake. Just add two-thirds bourbon and one-third water to the glass over a few ice cubes. As the ice melts and additionally dilutes the bourbon, you will feel the bourbon becoming milder and gentler, and eventually, it will stop burning, leaving you with the velvety aftertaste.
The water-bourbon mix works perfectly for the cheaper and more aggressive bourbon brands, which doesn’t mean you cannot do this with the more expensive bourbons. The main thing is to enjoy your drink, and if that means diluting it, then go for it. Place a slice of orange on your glass and take your time with it.
Soda has a twofold purpose when mixed with bourbon; it dilutes the aggressiveness of the drink and adds some flavor, accentuating the flavors the bourbon contains. It also creates a fun, bubbly effect in the throat when drinking your bourbon.
This is an excellent choice for those who like a slight sting at the end of your sip. You can also transform this combination into a cocktail. Add four quarters bourbon and one-quarter soda over a few ice cubes in the shaker and shake until you are happy with the results.
You will have a nice fancy drink in a few seconds. This combination also works excellent with carbonated water or seltzer, so don’t worry if you don’t have soda handy. The procedure and dosage are the same for the alternative ingredients as well.
3. Apple Cider
Since there are bourbons with a fruity taste and aroma, it is no wonder the bourbon flavor pairs with that of the apple. The sweet and sour apple cider could be just what you’ve been looking for if you are a fan of mixing fruit and alcohol, and justifiably so, as they work excellently together.
There are no special quantities here, as you can play it by ear and adjust the dosages as you like, but I’d recommend you start with more cider and increase the bourbon amount as you go. I’d start with two-thirds cider one, third bourbon, and go from there.
Place the apple cider and bourbon in a shaker and add a pinch of cinnamon. Shake well and pour the mixture into a glass over a few ice cubes. The apple cider will tone done the spikiness of the bourbon while giving it a fruity dimension, intertwined with the bourbon natural oak whiff.
Bourbon and Coca-Cola are old buddies, and this list wouldn’t be complete without this classic on it. What makes the bourbon and Coca-Cola combination so special is the sweetness of the Coca-Cola intertwined with the sharpness and edginess of the bourbon.
The carbonated tingly sensation that Coca-Cola creates, mixed with the elegance and refinement of the bourbon, creates the perfect drink for slow sipping and refreshment.
Put one-third bourbon and two-thirds of Coca-Cola in a shaker, add ice and a few drops of lime juice and shake thoroughly. This drink needs lots of shaking, so don’t be stingy here. Add a lime slice to the glass and pour the drink over some crushed ice. The Coca-Cola will become all foamy and will dress the drink nicely.
Coffee and bourbon go hand in hand together, and they are widely known as one of the best pairs. Even though bourbon and coffee don’t mix as a cocktail, coffee still needs to find its place on this list as one of the best beverages to mix with bourbon.
Bourbon goes in both hot and cold coffees but works best in strong-flavored coffees such as Arabica, which has a slightly sour note which mashes amazingly well with the bourbon flavor.
Add a few sips of bourbon to your coffee cup and enjoy the pungent coffee flavor mixed with the warm burn and smokiness of the bourbon. This is an excellent choice for the chili late autumn and early winter days, as it is one of the best ways to start or end your day.
6. Ginger Ale
Ginger ale and bourbon create a flavor with an endless depth and lots of variety. The citrusy ginger ale, which tends to taste somewhat spicy, oddly complements the bourbon flavor, with which it has nothing in common but somehow works with perfectly.
The flavor combination that bourbon and ginger ale create is best described as citrusy with a whiff of caramel and smokiness, and it is usually deeper, resonating long after you finish the glass.
To make this incredibly tasty and refreshing drink add one part bourbon and two parts ginger ale to the shaker and mix well. Pour the mixture over a few ice cubes and drop a few lime drops. You can substitute the ginger ale for ginger beer, which will also add a bubbly component to your cocktail, or fresh ginger syrup for some more intense taste.
7. Homemade Eggnog
Not mentioning eggnog on this list would be a borderline crime. Homemade eggnog and bourbon go astoundingly well together, as eggnog is, in itself, an alcoholic drink, so adding bourbon to the story will definitely elevate your Christmas spirit and enrich the festivity during the holiday season.
You don’t even have to shake this mixture, but add one liter of eggnog with 5 ounces of bourbon over some ice in a larger pitcher and add cinnamon with each pouring. Don’t add the cinnamon into the pitcher, as it will overwhelm the flavor and dominate the entire mixture if left inside for a more extended period.
8. Lemon Juice
As simple as that, lemon juice can do marvels with your bourbon, especially if you are a fan of the edgier things in life. Flavor-wise, lemon juice and bourbon can match their forces as they are both strong and dominant, so it is no wonder that they go together as well as they do because fighting for dominance, they balance each other out perfectly.
From dropping a few drops of lemon juice into your bourbon glass to mixing them in a shaker with ice and water, bourbon and lemon juice create a powerful refreshment with lots of edge. Therefore if you are somewhat a “vanilla person,” this will not be your cup of tea. On the other hand, if you enjoy spontaneity and dive bravely into the unknown, this should be your go-to drink.
It is best that you play this one by proportionality, adding one-third of water, one-third of bourbon, and one-third of lemon juice into the shaker and shake well. Pour the cocktail in a glass over some ice cubes or crushed ice and decorate with a lemon slice.
You can also dip the glass rim in sugar to add sweetness to the story.
Another fruity pair to your bourbon, amaretto, will add some of its famous fruity sweetness to your bourbon story. To mix the perfect bourbon and amaretto cocktail, you should know your bourbon, as amaretto comes in different flavors, from which you can select the one that is most compatible with the bourbon you have.
You can choose an apricot-flavored amaretto to mix with caramel-flavored bourbon, peach amaretto for oaky and smoky bourbon, or almond amaretto to mix with a toasted rye bread and nutmeg bourbon.
Since these are both alcoholic drinks, start with equal parts amaretto and bourbon, but don’t go too far with the quantities. Mix them well in a shaker with ice and enjoy your all-alcoholic cocktail. You can add a sour cherry to the drink for some contrast.
10. Peach Juice
A honey-like juice for a honey-like bourbon, the peach juice works excellent to either mask the fact that the bourbon is of the lower end but also to accentuate its qualities if you mix it with a higher-end drink. Either way, peach juice is a great option for you if you like the gentle and sweet flavor of the peach combined with the sharpness of the bourbon.
Mix equal parts peach juice and bourbon with crushed ice in the shaker and pour the mixture into a chilled glass. You will have a sweet, refreshing drink in no time.
Famous Bourbon Recipes
As I already mentioned, bourbon is the signature ingredient in a number of cocktails, so here are a few recipes on how to make the most popular bourbon-containing cocktail mixes. Enjoy!
All you will need for this delicacy are:
- 2 oz bourbon,
- ½ oz simple syrup,
- 1 egg white and
- ¾ lemon juice.
Add all the ingredients into the shaker and add ice for better mixing. Mix well until the egg white becomes frothy, and strain the mixture while you pour. This cocktail contains perishable, so serve it immediately after making it. The egg white is also an allergen, so if you have any egg-related allergies, you should, unfortunately, avoid this cocktail.
Although very popular, this cocktail is not up to everyone’s taste, mainly due to the raw egg white. It isn’t very impactful on the flavor, it is more used as a bonding agent and for frothiness, but it tends to have a very subtle but a very specific smell, which is why some don’t like it.
If you opt for this cocktail, have that in mind.
This three-ingredient cocktail is the perfect refreshment for a hot summer night, and even more so since it contains fresh mint leaves that accentuate the flavors involved.
You will need:
- Fresh mint leaves (about 7-8),
- 2.5 oz bourbon,
- ½ oz simple syrup.
Place the syrup and mint leaves at the bottom of a glass with ice cubes under them and mix them until the mint releases its natural flavors. Then, add the bourbon and add crushed ice. Stir the mixture with a spoon until it becomes frosty and decorate with more mint leaves.
This cocktail is definitely a universal thing, and you will definitely enjoy it. It is very, very gentle and incredibly refreshing.
New York Sour
Containing wine and bourbon, this cocktail definitely says party time. It isn’t a cocktail to sip on a calm night at home, as it boils your blood and makes you want to party, so have that in mind before making this cocktail.
You will need:
- 2 oz bourbon,
- 1 oz lemon juice,
- ½ maple syrup,
- 1 oz of dry red wine.
Mix the ingredients in a shaker with a handful of ice and strain the mixture into a glass. You can add a lemon twist if you like. This cocktail has a pretty intense kick, so be prepared to get a little woozy and don’t go too far.
Also Check: What to Mix with Cognac (15 Best Mixer)
Is Bourbon Good With Coke?
Bourbon and coke go famously together and are very well known for their compatibility. The sweetness and bubbliness of the coke flatter the bourbon without overwhelming it, but just tone it down a little bit. Think of this combination as a calm boyfriend and a dramatic girlfriend- seemingly, they have nothing in common, but in practice, it works really well.
The bourbon benefits from the sweetness of the coke, it’s like mixing it with syrup, and the coke benefits from the sharpness of the bourbon, becoming almost mint-like and very refreshing. What’s even better about this combination, it is almost universal; so many bourbon-lovers with very different preferences love this flavor combo.
Therefore, it is safe to say that the coke and bourbon mix is the little black dress of bourbon mixes as it fits almost any occasion and caters to many different people with different tastes and standards.
What Is the Correct Way to Drink Bourbon?
There is no one way to drink bourbon, as the drink should be attuned to your preferences and serve your enjoyment and pleasure.
You can have your bourbon on the rocks, neat, or with a twist, but also in the form of a cocktail or mixed in the glass.
If you are having a lower-end bourbon, I’d recommend you chill it beforehand so as to tone down the aggressiveness of the drink and avoid an unnecessary burn. You can drink your bourbon with ice to additionally milden it up.
If you are having a higher-end bourbon, it is usually recommended to have it neat so as to feel the taste to the fullest. However, having your bourbon neat may not be up to your liking, especially if you are new to bourbon territory. Therefore, you can mix it with ice and add a twist to mix the flavors and milden its sharpness.
Seasoned bourbon drinkers drink bourbon neat at room temperature, under which conditions the bourbon is strongest- tasting and most authentic, but you should feel free to adjust the way you serve and have it, as the most important thing is to have pleasure and enjoy while having it.
Is Sprite and Bourbon Good?
Sprite and bourbon work excellent together. The bubbles from the Sprite penetrate the bourbon mildening its sharpness and altering its taste, making it sweeter and gentler. Just like the soda water, Sprite has the same effect on bourbon, making it frothier and more refreshing.
If you mix Sprite and bourbon in a shaker, you will get an incredibly refreshing drink combining the sweetness of the Sprite and the smokiness of the bourbon, which is a combination you will definitely want to repeat. The bubbles and the crushed make this story all the more fun.
Some are reluctant to make this combination as they are unsure about the way the Sprite wetness goes with the bourbon sharpness, but fear not, this will definitely be a great choice and an excellent use for your bourbon.
How Can I Make Bourbon Taste Better?
If you want to improve the way your bourbon tastes, you can always place it in the fridge to milden it up if it is too sharp. This is usually the case with the cheaper kinds, so it is a nifty trick to have up your sleeve if you find yourself in the same or similar situation.
Adding ice to your bourbon is always an option if you want your bourbon chilled quickly and you like the jingling in your glass.
Mixing your bourbon with another liquid, such as water, juice, or another alcohol, is always a great idea if you like experimenting. You will definitely find the right combination if you start exploring this side of bourbon.
And lastly, if you like your bourbon as it is, but you just want to bring it up a notch, add some cinnamon or nutmeg to it to amplify the tastes already present in the glass.
What Soda Can You Mix With Bourbon?
One of the best things about bourbon is that you can mix it with almost any carbonated drink, soda. The most popular combination is bourbon and coke, or bourbon and soda water.
However, you mix it with Sprite, seven up, seltzer water, or any other soda you have available. The bubbles milden up the bourbon and add a new dimension to the drink, creating a delicious and refreshing cocktail in a matter of minutes.
The bourbon and soda combination mixes exceptionally well with crushed ice and lime or lemon juice. This combination requires a good mixing so as to homogenize the soda and bourbon into one frothy drink you will definitely want seconds of.