The 17 Best Bourbon Cocktails for Any Time of Year (and Day)

A good bourbon is unlike any of its other alcoholic comrades in a multitude of ways. For starters, the only clear alcohol one ever buys should be to disinfect wounds. If you're drinking vodka and expecting any of the desired notes and hints of flavor found in a barrel-aged bourbon, prepare to be disappointed, and don't get us started on gin. (There's a time and place for gin, and it's not right now.) A sip of quality bourbon (from Kentucky or elsewhere) tells a story, and sometimes that story is influenced by a few other ingredients to make delicious bourbon cocktails.

Bourbon-based cocktails can spin a yarn prior to being tasted; the way that each looks will give you a hint as to what type of taste you're going to experience. While most of the following cocktails include relatively short, simple ingredients lists, some are less traditional than your typical negroni or boulevardier and are inspired by a bit more modern mixologist-minded ingenuity.

Classic bourbon drinks tend to make us think of colder weather; the best bourbon cocktails work with warm spices and fruits like cranberry and apple. But bourbon works just as well with spring mint and summer berries. So regardless of the time of year or time of year, you can find great bourbon whiskey cocktail recipes.

Each of these 17 drinks will later help you tell a story about how you had the time of your life while sipping on some bourbon. Cheers.

1. Black-Beery Whiskey Smash

Wheat beer, fresh mint leaves, blackberries, and bourbon are the ingredients behind the clever title of this Black-beery Whiskey Smash, and they promise to please the palate of anyone choosing to imbibe.

Find the recipe here.

2. Black Cherry Bourbon Soda

From blackberry to black cherry, the versatility of bourbon allows it to be a cocktail base that can be enjoyed at any point in the year. If you like black cherry soda and booze, you'll love this recipe in your favorite highball glass.

Find the recipe here.

3. Bourbon Peach Slush

Don't show your grandad this fresh lemon juice and bourbon drink recipe, but do make it for your next cocktail party. Delightfully fruity in flavor and sinfully slushy in consistency, this adult Southern Slurpee is one you won't regret serving.

Find the recipe here.

4. Thyme Blood Orange Bourbon Cocktail

If you're wary to try mixing blood orange and bourbon with thyme and club soda in your cocktail shaker, we don't blame you. While this recipe isn't inherently reserved for those with an experimental palate, it wouldn't hurt to open up your mind before trying the Thyme Blood Orange Bourbon Cocktail.

Find the recipe here.

5. Sweet Tea Bourbon Cocktail

Sweet tea and bourbon go together like, well, sweet tea and sunshine. And if that's the case, bourbon equals sunshine; thus, we all need bourbon to survive! Plus, this drink has an extra hit of sunshine with orange juice muddled into the mix.

Escape from the cold during winter with a taste of summer or dive headfirst into everything that is sun and fun with this Sweet Tea Bourbon Cocktail recipe.

Find the recipe here.

6. Grapefruit-Ginger Bourbon Sour

Remember when you were in college and the only thing you knew how to order at the bar other than a beer or a shot was a whiskey sour? We'd like to welcome you to adulthood's version of the whiskey sour, the Grapefruit-Ginger Bourbon Sour. If you had this one in your back pocket during your (second try at) senior year, you'd have made a whole lot of friends.

Instead of relying on ginger ale, make a ginger simple syrup for this sweet and sour drink. (And make a double batch of the simple syrup; you can use the extra in a hot toddy, which is another great way to drink your bourbon.)

Find the recipe here.

7. Cold Brew + Bourbon Cocktail

Admit it, you've put a little Jameson in your coffee on more than one occasion. Instead of sneaking around with an incognito coffee cocktail in your mug, purposefully make a twist on a classic cocktail with this decadent Cold Brew + Bourbon Cocktail.

Find the recipe here.

8. Bourbon Stout Cocktail

We said that the previous recipe was decadent, so that means that this one is death-defyingly delicious. It's everything you're looking for during a boozy brunch, and it works perfectly well as an after-dinner drink.

Find the recipe here.

9. The Bourbon Brunch

Speaking of brunch, we were more than pleased to stumble upon this brunch-in-a-glass bourbon cocktail recipe recently. Yes, it includes maple syrup. No, we haven't tried it yet, and yes, we're positively itching to do so.

Find the recipe here.

10. Bourbon Brûlé

A caramelized navel orange floats unassumingly on top of this Bourbon Brûlé, and we assume that you're dying to try it just as badly as we are.

Find the recipe here.

11. Pomegranate Manhattan

The Manhattan will go down in time as one of the greatest whiskey cocktails to ever grace our dark liquor-loving planet. Try this riff on the classic rye Manhattan that includes bourbon, pomegranate juice, and a rosemary simple syrup instead of the usual vermouth and Angostura bitters. As you'll see, they suggest using Wild Turkey 101.

Find the recipe here.

12. Honey Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail

You'll probably choose to enjoy this one during fall, but we assure you that it tastes just as good in winter, spring, and summer, too.

Find the recipe here.

13. Ginger Bourbon Fizz

If you're a fan of Moscow Mules, but don't like to be seen drinking clear liquor in public, we can't blame you.

Hit up this Ginger Bourbon Fizz the next time you're envious of your friend's copper-mugged mule; it's not exactly the same, but it's certainly better.

Find the recipe here.

14. Tart Cherry Old Fashioned

Like Manhattans, old fashioneds are one of the time-tested, user-approved cocktails that will never be too old-fashioned to enjoy.

One way of keeping the old fashioned current is to mix it up a bit, so to speak, and this Tart Cherry Old Fashioned recipe does just that.

Find the recipe here.

15. Fresh Watermelon Mint Julep

Mint juleps scream, "refreshing" and adding watermelon to the mix only increases the likelihood that you'll let out an "ahh" after the first sip. With two and one-half ounces of bourbon, you'll be sure to taste a bit of booze as well.

Find the recipe here.

16. Bufala Negra

Balsamic vinegar (no, it's not a salad recipe) and ginger beer combine in a beautiful way to make the Bufala Negra. Not sure which bourbon to choose? We suggest Maker's Mark for this one.

Find the recipe here.

17. Sticky Date Bourbon Smash

Sticky Date Bourbon Smash Cocktail

This image provided by Spicy Ice Cream.

Dates are nature's candy, and this recipe calls for both a Medjool date and date jam. On top of that, it's packed with brown sugar and ginger beer. If you are looking for something sweet to cut the bourbon-ness from your cocktail, look no further; this one's for you.

Find the recipe here.

This article was originally published on May 3, 2019.

Watch: Sarsaparilla and Root Beer: Old-Fashioned Drinks You Can Make at Home