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15 Best Bourbons for Mixing Cocktails (2024 Updated)

Best Bourbons for Mixing Cocktails

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Many bartenders prefer bourbon as a base liquor in making cocktails because it has a different flavor profile that opens to hundreds of possibilities. Some prefer using classic bourbon brands like Old Forester and Old Bardstown Bottled In Bond to mix their cocktails.

But really, what is the best bourbon for mixing cocktails?

Top 15 Bourbons for Mixing

1. Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Best Bourbon For Mixing, Angel’s Envy Kentucky on desk

Expect aromas of caramel and vanilla that greet the nose. The Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey has slightly sweet notes of ripe fruit on the palate, maple syrup, and bitter chocolate with a lingering spicy finish.

If you’re looking for a flavorful whiskey with a milder alcohol content than others to mix in cocktails, the Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey might be right for you.

2. Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky on desk

This bourbon is characterized by high rye content and a complex character, having been perfectly aged and charred in American white oak barrels. Vanilla and a hint of caramel can be tasted with tones of oak and nutmeg in the middle. It has a long, dry, and satiny finish. 

3. Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Basil Hayden’s Kentucky on desk

This bourbon has spicy rye undertones with the subtle sweetness of corn that makes the flavor profile unique. It’s aged and bottled at 80 proof. The Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon has a well-integrated flavor profile composed of oak, sweet brown sugar, and a hint of citrus fruit. 

Whether you want to drink this bottle neat or on the rocks in an Old Fashioned cocktail, this whiskey might be a good bourbon for you. It’s a gentle drink with a spicy kick. This is also good for a Whiskey Sour cocktail or other cocktails.

Read: What’s the Best Bourbon for Old-Fashioned?

4. Old Grand-Dad Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Old Grand-Dad with glass and white chocolate truffles on table

Distilled at the Jim Beam Plant in Kentucky, this whiskey tastes like caramel and vanilla with a strong peppery flavor. It has notes of dried fruit that might give an interesting flavor when mixed with cocktails.

We like pairing this with ham, salami, and other foods with smoky notes because they bring out the caramel-forward character of this bourbon.

5. Early Times Bottled in Bond

Early Times with glass and strawberries on desk

This bottled-in-bond bourbon is crafted with pure water and is fermented with a proprietary yeast strain. This true old-style Kentucky bourbon has caramel and citrus notes that greet the taste buds. 

There’s also a hint of rye spice as you swirl the bourbon around, coating the inside of the mouth. The Early Times Bottled in Bond is one of the best bourbons with a short and dry finish.

6. Elijah Craig Small Batch

Elijah Craig with glass mandarin orange on table

This award-winning small-batch bourbon has complex flavors composed of subtle smoke flavor with well-integrated vanilla, toast, and caramel notes. There is more flavor in fruits, which makes them rich. 

We like this bottle of drink because of the impressive balance of flavor and heat. It has a quite sweet finish, with a drying note of toast.

Read: Our Favorite Cocktails To Order For Women At A Bar

7. Evan Williams Black Label

Evan Williams Black Label on desk with cocktail

Evan Williams Black Label is 86 proof and named after Evan Williams, who first opened Kentucky’s first commercial distillery. It smells light with deep vanilla and mint. This single barrel whiskey has tasting notes of caramel, oak, and sugar. 

If you are looking for the best bourbon for mixing in cocktails, the Evan Williams Black might be the best bourbon choice for a hot toddy or other cocktails because it is smooth and rich. 

Read: Can You Put Whiskey In Eggnog?

8. Four Roses Small Batch

Four Roses with pretzels on table

The Four Roses Small Batch bourbon has tasting notes of apricot, berries, light oak, and a hint of vanilla, which all contribute to this bourbon’s unique flavor profile.

It’s 90 proof and can be enjoyed neat or with a splash of a mixer of your choice. This Four Roses bourbon has won numerous awards.

Read: Recommended Bourbon Drinks To Make At Home

9. Johnny Drum Private Stock

Johnny Drum Private Stock on desk with glass

The scent of sour apple and oak will greet the nose. It is also sweet on the palate because of the caramel and vanilla notes.

This bottle of bourbon has a well-balanced and complex flavor profile with a hint of smoky char, making it interesting to mix in your cocktails.

It has a medium-length and elegant finish with spice notes.

10. Maker’s Mark

Maker’s Mark with glass and berries on table

The Maker’s Mark is a hand-made bourbon that uses the old-style sour-mash method. It has tasting notes of barley malt, butterscotch, vanilla, and a hint of spice. 

If you like a less spicy drink, it might be a great bourbon choice. This bottle of bourbon might be good for mixing in whiskey sours or any cocktail of your preference.

11. New Riff Bottled in Bond

New Riff on desk with glass and charcuterie board

With a mash bill of 65% corn, 30% rye, and 5% malted barley, this golden amber-colored liquor has notes of sweet caramel, vanilla powder, and hints of marshmallow and sweet oak. Subtle baking spices and brown sugar are what we can smell. It has hints of spice towards the finish with faint notes of sweet vanilla.

Read: What’s the Best Bourbon Below $30?

12. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Woodford Reserve with glass and dried fruits & nuts on table

With perfectly balanced flavors of toffee, caramel, cinnamon, chocolate, and a hint of spice and orange peel, this American whiskey has received numerous awards. It has a long finish with notes of toasty oak. Interestingly, it’s triple distilled, and it’s the bottle with the lowest proof upon entering the oak barrel, which was aged for at least six years.

13. Benchmark Old No. 8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon 

Benchmark Old No. 8 on desk with old fashioned cocktail

The Benchmark Old No.8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon has aromas of caramel, corn, and vanilla pod earthiness. Also, it doesn’t have a bitter taste. We can taste toffee apples, some biscuit notes, and caramel. 

We like this because it’s an affordable bourbon, and it’s our go-to bourbon to mix in a hot toddy or even cocktails like Old Fashioned or whiskey sours since the flavor profile is light.

14. Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Jim Beam with cocktail ang cheese ball on table

The bourbon might be a bit older, but it has had the same formula since 1976. This bourbon has tasting notes of toast, vanilla, and a hint of dark chocolate and has been aged in oak barrels for four years. 

It’s a classic whiskey containing no additives or coloring, making it easy to mix into cocktails. It also has a smooth finish.

Read: Our Recommended Bourbons For Baking

15. Rebel Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Rebel Yell with glass and truffles on desk

This 80-proof whiskey was made from the original recipe using new charred white oak barrels for aging and purest Kentucky limestone-filtered water. This bourbon is made of wheat, corn, and malt. 

It has tasting notes of honey, butter, traces of raisins, and a hint of plum and spiciness that make its flavor profile complex and creates an interesting taste when blended with cocktails. It has a long and warm finish.

What Makes Bourbons Great For Mixed Drinks?

Bourbon is the perfect liquor for mixed drinks because it has a distinctive flavor profile. Bourbon has a sweet flavor with a hint of spice that goes well with fruit juice, like apple or peach. It also tastes great with ginger beer, ginger ale, or even ginger snaps. That’s why bourbons are among the most popular liquors for mixed drinks.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best bourbon to mix with Coke?

The best bourbon to mix with Coke is Wild Turkey, one of the go-to bourbons of bartenders. It has rich flavors that are enhanced when partnered with Coke. However, high-proof bourbons might also be the best bourbons to mix with Coke, like Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon.

What is a “Bourbon and Coke” called?

It’s simply called Bourbon and Coke, but you can mention the brand if you want to specify the bourbon that goes into your Bourbon and Coke. 

Should bourbon be mixed with water?

Yes, it could be mixed with water because it makes the drink smoother and the flavors more pronounced. However, knowing how much water to add can improve your drinking experience. This is because different whiskeys have different alcohol contents. The amount of water used can vary as well [1].

What is the best bourbon according to bartenders?

The title of the “best” bourbon according to bartenders can vary as personal preferences play a significant role. However, several bourbons are commonly recommended by bartenders due to their versatility and widespread appeal. Brands such as Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, and Elijah Craig often make the list for their well-balanced flavors, making them suitable for both sipping and mixing in cocktails.

What whiskey is good for mixing?

Whiskeys suitable for mixing in cocktails often include those with a balanced flavor profile that complements other ingredients. Bourbon, rye, and blended whiskies are popular choices for mixing. Brands like Jameson (Irish whiskey), Bulleit (bourbon or rye), and Famous Grouse (blended Scotch) are frequently recommended for their versatility and ability to enhance the overall cocktail experience.

Is Jack Daniel’s a bourbon?

No, Jack Daniel’s is not a bourbon; it is a Tennessee whiskey. While both bourbon and Tennessee whiskey share similarities in production, the key distinction lies in the additional step known as the Lincoln County Process. This process involves filtering the whiskey through sugar maple charcoal before aging, imparting a unique flavor to Jack Daniel’s and making it distinct from bourbons.

What is the correct way to drink bourbon?

The correct way to drink bourbon largely depends on personal preferences, but there are some general guidelines. Many bourbon enthusiasts enjoy sipping it neat to fully appreciate its flavors. Alternatively, adding a few drops of water can enhance aromas and open up the whiskey. Some prefer bourbon on the rocks for a slightly chilled experience. Additionally, bourbon can be used in cocktails like Old Fashioned or Mint Julep, showcasing its versatility.

What bourbon does John Wick drink?

In the John Wick film series, the character John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves, is often depicted drinking a bourbon called Blanton’s. The distinctive bottle with a horse and jockey on top is recognizable in the scenes where John Wick indulges in his preferred drink. Blanton’s is a high-quality single-barrel bourbon known for its rich and complex flavor profile, making it a fitting choice for the stylish and discerning character of John Wick.

What are the 5 requirements for bourbon?

The five requirements for a whiskey to be classified as bourbon are defined by the U.S. Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits:

Made in the United States: Bourbon must be produced in the United States.

At least 51% Corn: The mash bill, or the mix of grains used in production, must be at least 51% corn.

Aged in New Charred Oak Barrels: Bourbon must be aged in new charred oak barrels.

Distilled to No More than 160 Proof (80% alcohol by volume): The distillate should not exceed 160 proof before being barreled.

Bottled at 80 Proof or More: Bourbon must be bottled at no less than 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume).

What bourbon does James Bond drink?

In the James Bond franchise, the iconic character is known for his preference for vodka martinis, often shaken, not stirred. While Bond is not specifically associated with bourbon, he has been depicted enjoying various alcoholic beverages throughout the series. The character’s drink choice has become a symbol of sophistication and style.

What can I mix with bourbon besides Coke?

Bourbon is a versatile spirit that can be mixed with a variety of ingredients to create flavorful cocktails. Some alternatives to mixing bourbon with Coke include:

Ginger Ale or Ginger Beer: Combining bourbon with ginger ale or ginger beer creates a refreshing and slightly spicy drink.

Sweet Vermouth: Mixing bourbon with sweet vermouth and a few dashes of bitters results in a classic cocktail known as a Boulevardier.

Lemonade: Bourbon pairs well with lemonade, offering a sweet and citrusy flavor.

Iced Tea: Bourbon and iced tea make a popular combination known as a Bourbon Sweet Tea.

Maple Syrup and Bitters: A mix of bourbon, maple syrup, and bitters creates a delightful Maple Bourbon Sour.

What to mix with bourbon for beginners?

For beginners, a simple and popular option is the Bourbon and Ginger Ale. The sweetness of ginger ale complements the bourbon’s flavors, creating a palatable and easy-to-enjoy drink. Alternatively, adding a splash of water or ice to bourbon can mellow the spirit’s intensity, making it more approachable for those new to whiskey.

Is bourbon and Sprite good?

While taste preferences are subjective, bourbon and Sprite can make a pleasant combination for those who enjoy a sweeter and effervescent drink. The sweetness of Sprite can complement the caramel and vanilla notes in bourbon, creating a refreshing and easy-to-drink cocktail. Experimenting with different ratios and garnishes allows you to tailor the mix to your taste.Top of Form

Final Thoughts: Best Bourbon For Mixing

While bourbons are good for sipping neat to experience their authentic flavors, some people love delicious bourbon cocktails because the best bourbons balance the sweet spot of cocktails. 

Determining which might be the best bourbon for mixing cocktails depends on how its complex flavor profile blends well with the traditional cocktail flavors. 

In the end, the top bourbons for mixing are the ones that suit your preference. The best bourbons might be a straight bourbon whiskey, an Old Bardstown Bottled in Bond, or any single barrel whiskey. It depends on what you like.


  1. The Real Reason You Should Add Water To Your Whiskey
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