Mixin’ It Up with Bourbon

by sylvan

While I feel like I buy bourbon whiskey more often than other spirits, I can’t say that bourbon is my favorite spirit to mix with; I’m much more likely to drink it on the rocks or in a Whiskey Cocktail (basically an Old-Fashioned without fruit). But there are a few drinks that I make regularly using bourbon. For mixing, I recommend using an affordable bourbon like Evan Williams black label or even the Elijah Craig 12 year old. There’s really no need to go to more expensive ‘single barrel’ or ‘small batch’ bottlings. Unless that’s just ‘how you roll’, in which case you should invite me over for drinks sometime.

One of my favorite variations on the tried-and-true Champagne Cocktail is the Kentucky Champagne Cocktail, which is nothing more than a Champagne Cocktail with a shot of bourbon in it.

Kentucky Champagne Cocktail

  • Put a sugar cube in a largish champagne glass and soak with 3-6 dashes of Angostura bitters.  Then add:
  • 1 oz bourbon
  • Fill with champagne or other bubbly (Segura Viuda Cava, recommended)

Other bitters will work, especially orange bitters, but the venerable Angostura is my current favorite for this drink. This one isn’t too far from the classic Seelbach Cocktail either – just up the Ango. to 7 dashes, add 7 more dashes of Peychaud’s and 1/2 oz of Cointreau and you’re there.

One thing to note when making this, or any other champagne cocktail, is to be very careful when pouring the bubbly, as it tends to foam up dramatically when poured onto the sugar cube.

Another drink that I make at home (mostly because they are almost impossible  to get made well away from home) is a Whiskey Sour. I’m most likely to make this to use up some extra lemon juice, or to use a lemon that has been thoroughly peeled for garnish. I’ve recently added a variation on the Whiskey Sour to my repertoire, the Port Light.


Port Light – from Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz passion fruit syrup
  • 1 Tbsp grenadine

Blend with 1 cup crushed ice for 5 seconds and pour into a collins glass.

This is quite tasty – there is more going on in the glass than a traditional Whiskey Sour. The tartness is nicely balanced and given depth by the passion fruit and grenadine. I’m using a homemade passion fruit syrup from the clear part of a settled out Looza passion fruit nectar and sugar.

There are more bourbon drinks out there than you would think, once you start looking. Whiskey Smash, Mint Julep, Manhattan, Bourbon Crusta, Honi Honi – what’s your favorite bourbon drink?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy Keen May 18, 2009 at 8:26 am

I like bourbon on the rocks, but my favorite mixed bourbon drink is still probably the Improved Whiskey Cocktail.

Tiare June 6, 2009 at 9:42 pm

PortLight is one of my favorites, the Kentucky Champagne Cocktail i made with a sparkling wine. Both are very nice. I like your photos a lot.
Great post.


sylvan June 14, 2009 at 3:18 pm

I was actually surprised by the Port Light – I was just looking for something a little different to do with bourbon!

Kamilah June 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I’m wondering if the Port Light would be a good starting point to re-creating sometihng I had at a restaurant in LA called Rock Sugar. It was called a SaigonBourbon Smash and it had woodford reserve, passion fruit (I’m assuming syrup) and orange liquer. Any tips on how to recreate this would be appreciated.


sylvan June 18, 2010 at 1:39 pm

I’d think that the Port Light would be great base, as I think you would need something sour like the lemon juice to match the sweetness of the passion fruit syrup and the orange liqueur.

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