June 14th is National Bourbon Day! As the temperatures rise and the days get longer we look forward to kicking back with friends and family and toasting summer nights with some bourbon. We’ve put together a few suggestions for bourbon centered cocktails sure to impress your guests this summer to celebrate America's “Native Spirit”.
Bourbon differs from other whiskey in the way it is made. All whiskey is crafted from a grain mixture, known as a mash bill, but in order to become true bourbon the mash must contain at least 51% corn. That, and the fact that bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels (other whiskeys may rest in pre-used barrels) gives bourbon its smooth, sweet, caramel flavors that make it a perfect spirit for sipping or mixing.
On June 14th, 1964, a Congressional Resolution designated Bourbon as the Official Spirit of America. Since then, nowhere else in the world can make a whiskey and call it Bourbon.
Because of bourbon’s inherent sweetness it is perfect for a cocktail recipe with some contrast. If you enjoy a bitter sweet flavor profile or you’re a fan of the classic gin-based Negroni, you may like the Boulevardier. Taking the core ingredients from the Negroni- gin, vermouth, and campari- but subbing bourbon in as the base, the boulevardier is a sophisticated drink from the 1920’s that fits perfectly at a summer cocktail party. Start with a cocktail carafe and add equal parts bourbon, aperol, and campari. Give it a stir and strain into low ball glasses preferably over a large rock that will chill your beverage but melt slower to preserve the rich flavors. It’s that simple!
If you and your friends prefer something a bit lighter and a bit sweeter then perhaps the Blueberry Smash is the cocktail of choice for your next backyard get together. This is a perfect option to make in a large batch and serve in a pitcher to be passed around a picnic table. To begin, take a cup of blueberries, a few mint leaves, and simple syrup and place in a blender. The amount of simple syrup will depend on how much you’re making but typically we’d recommend about ½ measure simple syrup for every full measure of bourbon. While the mint leaves and blueberries can be muddled and strained for this recipe, we’ve found that blending gets the most flavor out of the ingredients and helps to thin out the drink to be more sip-able. After blended, pour the mixture into a pitcher and add your bourbon. Then, top off with ginger beer and stir with ice. Lastly, pour into a highball glass and enjoy!
If you’re hosting friends and have other things to do than craft a signature cocktail or you’re simply looking to kick back after a long day then we’ve got you covered there as well. Our new friends at WithCo make drink mixing easy. They produce pre-made cocktail mixers from pure and natural ingredients sourced all over the world. Just add your liquor of choice and you’ll be sipping a restaurant quality cocktail in seconds. Since it’s National Bourbon Day, we’d be remiss not to highlight their Ellis Old Fashioned. WithCo sourced vanilla bean all the way from Madagascar to create the most perfectly balanced Old Fashioned. It’s a whiskey-enthusiast’s dream, but even the toughest whiskey critics will end up wanting a taste. This classic cocktail can be served up in an elegant coupe glass.
This weekend, take a moment to enjoy a new cocktail in celebration of America’s favorite spirit. Just as with grilling, sometimes the act of making something to be enjoyed with friends and family is more entertaining than the end product itself. But with these fun recipes we’re sure you’ll be enjoying both. Cheers!
Explore our Summer Cocktail Essentials collection.
Additional ways to celebrate National Bourbon Day, is to watch the masters at work from the comfort of your armchair. Did you know there’s a full-length documentary dedicated solely to bourbon? It’s called Neat: The Bourbon Film.
You can also check out public television station KET’s hour-long “Kentucky Bourbon Tales,” featuring interviews with master distillers.
Written by Connor Roe