How To Order Bourbon Like A Pro (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on November 26, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Any drink, especially bourbon, would taste better when shared with friends. Whether you’re chilling at the beach or bar, good times are indeed guaranteed. 

If you don’t want to look like a novice while ordering, you need to know the basics before going to the bar. Keep scrolling to know how to order bourbon like a pro.

5 Easy Ways To Order A Bourbon

5 Easy Ways To Order A Bourbon

1. Decide Within Your Budget Range

In choosing bourbon, aside from the type, you also want to consider your budget range. You can find this spirit for as low as $18 per bottle. The good news is that there’s Kentucky bourbon available at every price point. 

Sometimes, brands have special liquor deals for bourbons that you can watch out for great discounts.

2. Choose a Specific Brand


If you’re fond of drinking bourbon, chances are you already know what suits your palate, and you have favorite brands. There might be only one brand you like to drink, but you might like to consider switching brands sometimes. 

Among the brands you can find in most bars or liquor stores are Jim Beam, Elijah Craig, Bulleit Bourbon, Wild Turkey, and Maker’s Mark.

3. Ask The Bartender (If Unsure)

Talk to the bartender at the bar and ask for a recommendation. It would help to tell the bartender what you like and what you don’t like so he can recommend a brand or something that suits your palate best. 

Do you want something a little sweet or with spice? Do you want your drink to have soda? For example, if you want a refreshing cocktail, the bartender can recommend a Mint Julep.

Read: Single Barrel & Small Batch Bourbon Compared

4. Ask For A Sample Or Flight

A sample of bourbon

A flight is where drinkers sample three to four types of samples. This is to compare and contrast the spirits from flavor to color. You can ask the bartender at the bar if they have a flight on the best bourbon in the selection. 

Trying a sip of the selection can help you find the best drink that suits your preference.

5. Decide How You Want It Served

On The Rocks

bourbon on the rocks

A drink ordered on the rocks simply means a spirit served over ice [1]. Many people prefer ordering bourbon with ice because it dilutes the taste and makes it smoother. If you want a strong flavor and a little bit of water, you can order a glass of bourbon with a single ice cube.

With A Splash of Water

bourbon with water

Mixing bourbon with a splash of water helps bring out its flavors while also keeping it from being too strong. However, the choice of water is important because it can significantly improve your drinking experience. 

You can opt for mineral water, distilled water, or filtered water. It would also help to use a higher-proof bourbon to negate dilution.


Many mixers go well with bourbons like a shot of coffee, ginger ale, sweet vermouth, soda, bitters, and juice, making it more delicious. You can ask to mix soda, like coke, to make your drink sweet. 

You can also try an Old Fashioned, composed of bourbon mixed with bitters, sugar, lemon, and water. You can also go for the drink of the Kentucky Derby, Mint Julep, containing bourbon, sugar, fresh mint, and water.


bourbon in neat glass

Neat bourbon means it’s served to you at room temperature without adding ice and any mixers. If you’re a purist and like to savor the intense flavor of bourbon, don’t wonder anymore about how to order bourbon. 

Having a straight bourbon is the best option for you. For example, you can say, “I’ll have a neat Jim Beam.”


Is it better to order a bourbon neat?

Yes, it’s better to order a bourbon neat if you want a sip in its purest form with its rich flavors. The flavors are stronger if you prefer it this way. However, it depends on what you are in the mood for or what brand you like.

How do I order an Old Fashioned bourbon?

To order an Old Fashioned bourbon, look for the cocktail on the menu or say the brand you want and adjustments you like to make in the drink. You can say, “I’ll have a Maker’s Mark, Old Fashioned with a squeeze of fresh lime.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to order a bourbon, an American whiskey charred in oak barrels, in a bar is important to ensure that you’ll enjoy your drink. Ordering this type of alcohol boils down to how you prefer it, whether it’s straight or as a cocktail. 

If you want a cocktail made with grapefruit, lime, and honey, instead of simple syrup, say, “I’ll have a Wild Turkey Whiskey Sour 101.” You can also try a straight Jim Beam in a glass.

If you have no idea about bourbon, you can ask the bartender for recommendations.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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