World Cocktail Week: Bourbon Cocktails

Bottoms up, it’s World Cocktail Week! To celebrate, we’ll be highlighting a different liquor each day to help keep your libations as exciting as possible!

Today we’ll be celebrating the unsung hero of cocktails, bourbon! Read on to discover why bourbon is the perfect liquor for cocktails and how we recommend you drink it!

Trusted Expert Darryl Corbett with a bottle of his favourite spirit

A Brief Bourbon History

“America’s Native Spirit,” as it is lovingly called, was first distilled in 1789 in Kentucky, USA. Elijah Craig, the father of bourbon, is rumoured to have invented the spirit by aging corn whisky in charred oak barrels. Despite being distilled in Bourbon County for nearly 50 years, the spirit was officially recognized worldwide around 1840.

Following the Civil War, bourbon distilleries began to pop up around the southern United States until around 1920, when the U.S. prohibition was instated. This caused many bourbon distilleries to close permanently. Some iconic producers, such as T.W. Samuels, Jim Beam, and Buffalo Trace, received governmental permission to remain open, thus surviving the 13 year bourbon drought.

A bottle and a glass of Buffalo Trace bourbon

Fast forwarding to the 1960’s, bourbon was dubbed the official distilled spirit of the USA. Today, bourbon is required to fulfill the following five requirements:

  • Bourbon must be made in the USA. It does not have to be distilled in Kentucky, though most is.
  • Aging must occur in a new oak barrel. To be considered a straight bourbon, it is required to be aged at least two years.
  • Mash must be at least 51% corn.
  • It cannot be more than 125 proof before entering the barrel, and cannot be below 80 proof before entering a bottle.
  • No ingredients may be added other than water, including colouring and flavouring. When you’re sipping certified bourbon, you can be assured it is the real deal!

Iconic Bourbon Cocktails

While bourbon isn’t typically the first spirit to come to mind when discussing cocktails, it is the main ingredient in a number of iconic, classic cocktails. Thanks to its smooth and sweet flavour, bourbon is the ideal spirit for cocktails that rely on showcasing the alcohol. Surprisingly versatile, bourbon makes even the simplest of libations taste complex. Read on to discover our favourite bourbon cocktails!

Mint Julep

This cocktail just screams summer! This simple patio staple requires bourbon, fresh mint, white sugar, and crushed ice! It is rumoured to have been invented around 1803, and is now the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.

Don’t forget, it’s Mint Julep Day on May 30th!

A silver cup of Mint Julep


Looking for another easy cocktail? Why not try the Manhattan! This cocktail calls for bourbon, vermouth and bitters, stirred up for a delectable yet bitey flavour.

a Manhattan cocktail

Our Favourite Bourbon Cocktail

Ready to dive into a bourbon cocktail of your own? Allow us to suggest our go to, the Old Fashioned! This surprisingly easy cocktail celebrates the bourbon rather than disguising it, using sugar and bitters to amplify the flavour.

Here’s our foolproof recipe to get you in the spirit!

½ teaspoon of sugar

Dashes of bitters, to taste

1 teaspoon of water

2 oz of Bourbon (might we suggest the Woodford Reserve Kentuck Straight Bourbon)

Orange peel to garnish

  • Using a rocks glass, pour sugar, bitters, then water into the glass, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Place ice cubes into the glass
  • Add bourbon, and gently stir it
  • Add a twist of orange peel to the glass, then toss it into the glass
  • Drink up!

Drooling over bourbon? Check out our entire online collection here!

Would you rather drink some bourbon neat? Grab your tickets to our upcoming Virtual Buffalo Trace Bourbon Tasting, where we’ll be tasting the best bourbon Kentucky has to offer!

A girl holds a box of Buffalo Trace bourbon