Bourbon Cocktails: Exploring the Classics and Their Evolution Through History


Bourbon, a distinctly American spirit, has a storied history dating back to the late 18th century. Renowned for its smooth, rich flavor, bourbon has become a staple in the world of cocktails. In this blog post, we delve into the fascinating history of bourbon cocktails and explore some modern favorites, perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or a curious newcomer, this guide will deepen your appreciation for bourbon cocktails.

The Historical Roots of Bourbon Cocktails


The history of bourbon cocktails is intertwined with the development of bourbon itself. Bourbon’s origins can be traced back to the late 1700s in Kentucky, where settlers began distilling corn whiskey. By the mid-19th century, bourbon had gained popularity, and bartenders started experimenting with it in cocktails.


One of the earliest and most iconic bourbon cocktails is the Old Fashioned. First documented in the early 1800s, the Old Fashioned is a testament to the timeless appeal of bourbon. Made with bourbon, sugar, bitters, and a twist of citrus, this cocktail is celebrated for its simplicity and balance. The Old Fashioned set the stage for future bourbon cocktails, showcasing bourbon’s versatility and depth of flavor.


Recipe: Classic Old Fashioned

– 2 oz bourbon

– 1 sugar cube or 1 tsp sugar

– 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters

– Orange twist

– Ice



1. Place the sugar cube or sugar in a glass.

2. Add bitters and a splash of water, then muddle until sugar is dissolved.

3. Fill the glass with ice and add bourbon.

4. Stir gently and garnish with an orange twist.

The Company Distilling Maple Old Fashioned is a fan favorite at our distilleries. Which includes a secret ingredient. Maple Syrup and Black Walnut bitters.

When making your old fashioned we encourage you to use your favorite bourbon, try different expressions to find your favorite,  Rye Whiskey can give a slightly


Another bourbon cocktail is the classic Mint Julep, which became synonymous with the Kentucky Derby in the 1930s. With its refreshing blend of bourbon, fresh mint, sugar, and crushed ice, the Mint Julep is a quintessential Southern cocktail, perfect for hot summer days.


Recipe: Mint Julep

– 2 oz bourbon

– 8-10 fresh mint leaves

– 1 tsp sugar

– Crushed ice

– Mint sprig for garnish



1. Muddle mint leaves and sugar in a glass.

2. Fill the glass with crushed ice and add bourbon.

3. Stir until the glass is frosty.

4. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Modern Bourbon Cocktails: A New Era of Creativity


While traditional bourbon cocktails remain beloved, modern mixologists have introduced a new wave of creativity to the bourbon cocktail scene. Today, bourbon cocktails are more diverse and inventive than ever, offering a wide range of flavors and experiences.


One modern favorite is the Boulevardier, a sophisticated twist on the classic Negroni. The Boulevardier combines bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Campari, creating a rich, bittersweet cocktail with a complex flavor profile. This cocktail is perfect for those who enjoy bold, robust flavors.


Recipe: Boulevardier

– 1 oz bourbon

– 1 oz sweet vermouth

– 1 oz Campari

– Ice

– Orange twist



1. Combine bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Campari in a mixing glass with ice.

2. Stir well and strain into a chilled glass.

3. Garnish with an orange twist.


For a fruity and refreshing option, the Bourbon Peach Smash is a fantastic choice. This cocktail blends bourbon with fresh peaches, lemon juice, and mint, creating a delightful mix of sweet and tart flavors. The Bourbon Peach Smash is a great way to showcase bourbon’s versatility in pairing with fruit.


Recipe: Bourbon Peach Smash

– 2 oz bourbon

– 1 ripe peach, sliced

– 1/2 oz lemon juice

– 1/2 oz simple syrup

– Fresh mint leaves

– Ice



1. Muddle peach slices, mint leaves, and simple syrup in a shaker.

2. Add bourbon, lemon juice, and ice, then shake well.

3. Strain into a glass filled with ice.

4. Garnish with a mint sprig and a peach slice.


Another innovative bourbon cocktail is the Bourbon Sour. While the Whiskey Sour has been a staple for decades, modern variations often incorporate unique ingredients like egg white for a frothy texture or flavored syrups for added depth. The result is a cocktail that is both familiar and exciting.


Recipe: Bourbon Sour

– 2 oz bourbon

– 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

– 1/2 oz simple syrup

– 1/2 oz egg white (optional)

– Ice

– Cherry and lemon twist for garnish



1. Combine bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white (if using) in a shaker.

2. Shake without ice to emulsify the egg white.

3. Add ice and shake again.

4. Strain into a glass and garnish with a cherry and lemon twist.


Visit Company Distilling for Award-Winning Bourbon


To fully appreciate the art of bourbon cocktails, it’s essential to start with high-quality bourbon. At Company Distilling, you’ll find expertly crafted bourbon that elevate any cocktail.


Company Distilling offers tours and tastings, plus a robust menu of cocktail recipes.  Visiting the distillery is a fantastic way to deepen your understanding of bourbon and discover new whiskey cocktails.

Visit our easy bourbon cocktail recipe page, where you might discover your own classic cocktail!