what is best to mix with bourbon

What is Best to Mix Bourbon?

Bourbon, the beloved American spirit, has a rich heritage and a complexity that invites exploration. This article is your guide to unlocking the full potential of bourbon by pairing it with the right mixers. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or new to the world of whiskey, you’ll find that the right combination can transform your drink into a symphony of flavors.

The key to a great bourbon experience is the harmony between the spirit and its companion. Here, we’ll delve into what is best to mix bourbon starting with the classics that have stood the test of time and some unexpected pairings that might just become your new favorites. From ginger ale’s enthusiasm to lemonade’s tangy sweetness, each mixer we discuss will be presented with straightforward language and clear examples, making it easy for everyone to follow.

what is best to mix with bourbon
Credits to WhiskeyBon

As we journey through the art of mixing bourbon, you’ll learn what is best to mix with bourbon and how to mix. The goal is to enhance your enjoyment of bourbon without overwhelming its unique character. So, grab your glass, and let’s begin the flavorful adventure of finding the best mixers for your bourbon.

What is Best to Mix Bourbon?

Pairing bourbon with the right mixer enhances its rich flavors. Classic choices include ginger ale or beer, offering a spicy kick that complements bourbon’s warmth. Cola is a popular mixer for a sweet, familiar taste. For a refreshing twist, lemonade or sparkling water with a squeeze of citrus balances the bourbon’s depth.

Simple syrup and bitters, the foundation of an Old Fashioned, highlight bourbon’s complexity without overpowering it. Experimenting with these mixers can elevate your bourbon experience, catering to both seasoned enthusiasts and newcomers eager to explore bourbon’s versatility.

Classic Bourbon Mixers

When enhancing the rich, full-bodied bourbon flavor, the mixers you choose can make all the difference. Here’s a detailed look at some classic mixers that harmonize beautifully with bourbon’s unique profile.

Bourbon & Cola

Why it Works: Bourbon and cola are a match made in heaven. The caramel notes in bourbon complement the sweet, vanilla essence of cola, creating a smooth and familiar taste.

How to Mix:

  1. Select Your Bourbon: A medium-bodied bourbon works best.
  2. Chill Your Glass: Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.
  3. Measure: Pour 2 oz of bourbon over the ice.
  4. Top Off: Gently add cola, maintaining the carbonation.
  5. Stir Lightly: Use a bar spoon to mix, preserving the fizz.
  6. Garnish: Add a slice of lemon for a citrusy twist.
jack and coke
Credits to Feast + West

Bourbon & Iced Tea

Why it Works: The tannins in iced tea complement the oak and vanilla flavours in bourbon, offering a refreshing and slightly bitter contrast.

How to Mix:

  1. Brew the Tea: Use a strong black tea and let it cool.
  2. Prepare Your Glass: Fill a mason jar with ice cubes.
  3. Combine: Mix 2 oz of bourbon with 6 oz of iced tea.
  4. Sweeten (Optional): Add simple syrup to taste.
  5. Stir Well: Ensure the mixture is well combined.
  6. Garnish: Lemon wedge or mint sprig for an aromatic finish.
Bourbon & Iced Tea
Credits to The Jam Jar Kitchen

Creative Combinations

Bourbon’s versatility shines with mixers that reveal its hidden notes. This section explores creative combinations that are both delightful and easy to make.

Bourbon & Ginger Ale

Why it Works: The spicy kick of ginger ale enhances bourbon’s warmth, creating a stimulating and comforting drink.

How to Mix:

  1. Choose a Bourbon: Aim for one with a strong character.
  2. Prepare the Glass: Fill a rock glass with ice cubes.
  3. Pour the Bourbon: Add 2 oz of bourbon to the glass.
  4. Add Ginger Ale: Slowly pour in ginger ale to taste.
  5. Stir Gently: Mix to combine the flavours without losing fizz.
  6. Garnish: A lime wedge adds a refreshing zing.
what is best to mix with bourbon: Bourbon & Ginger Ale
Credits to Whisky Advocate

Bourbon & Lemonade

Why it Works: The tartness of lemonade balances the sweet richness of bourbon, making for a zesty and refreshing drink.

How to Mix:

  1. Select Your Bourbon: A lighter bourbon is ideal.
  2. Ice Up: Fill a tall glass with crushed ice.
  3. Mix in Bourbon: Pour 2 oz of bourbon over the ice.
  4. Top with Lemonade: Add homemade or store-bought lemonade.
  5. Stir Thoroughly: Ensure the drink is well mixed.
  6. Garnish: A sprig of mint or a lemon twist for extra flair.
what is best to mix with bourbon: Bourbon & Lemonade
Credits to Gimme Some Oven

Exotic Mixers for Bourbon

Exploring exotic mixers with bourbon can lead to delightful discoveries. This section will guide you through unique pairings that intrigue and satisfy your palate.

Bourbon & Pomegranate Juice

Why it Works: The tartness of pomegranate juice complements the sweetness of bourbon, offering a drink with a balance of exotic and refreshing flavors.

How to Mix:

  1. Pick a Bourbon: Choose one with a hint of spice to match the pomegranate.
  2. Chill Your Glass: Use a chilled cocktail glass for the best experience.
  3. Combine Ingredients: Mix 2 oz of bourbon with 3 oz of pomegranate juice.
  4. Add Ice: Drop in a few ice cubes to keep it cool.
  5. Stir Gently: Blend the ingredients without shaking to maintain clarity.
  6. Garnish: A twist of orange peel or pomegranate seeds adds a pop of color and flavor.
what is best to mix with bourbon: Bourbon and Pomegranate Juice
Credits to thymeforadrink.com

Bourbon & Soda Water

Why it Works: Soda water is the perfect mixer for those who appreciate bourbon’s flavour profile and want a lighter drink. It dilutes the bourbon just enough to refresh it without masking its taste.

How to Mix:

  1. Select Your Bourbon: A full-bodied bourbon is ideal for this mix.
  2. Prepare the Glass: Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.
  3. Pour the Bourbon: Add 2 oz of bourbon over the ice.
  4. Top with Soda: Slowly add soda water to your liking.
  5. Stir Well: Mix the drink to ensure an even distribution of flavours.
  6. Garnish: A lemon twist or a sprig of mint for a fresh aroma.
what is best to mix with bourbon: Bourbon and Soda Water
Credits to The Spruce Eats

Tips for Mixing Bourbon

Understanding the basics of mixing drinks is essential for crafting the perfect bourbon cocktail. This section provides step-by-step guidance to ensure your bourbon mixology is simple and effective.

Balancing Flavors

Why it’s Important: The right balance can enhance the bourbon without overpowering its distinct flavors.

How to Achieve It:

  1. Start with Bourbon: Pour 2 oz of bourbon into a mixing glass.
  2. Add Sweetness: Consider a splash of simple syrup if desired.
  3. Introduce Bitterness: A dash of bitters can add depth.
  4. Consider Acidity: A squeeze of fresh citrus juice can brighten the drink.
  5. Stir Gently: Combine the ingredients with a bar spoon.
  6. Taste and Adjust: Find the perfect balance for your palate.
What is Best to Mix Bourbon: Tips for Mixing Bourbon
Credits to Shaker & Spoon

The Role of Ice

Why it Matters: Ice can chill, dilute, and change the texture of your cocktail.

How to Use Ice:

  1. Choose Your Ice: Large cubes or spheres melt more slowly.
  2. Chill Your Glass: Fill it with ice before mixing your drink.
  3. Mix with Ice: Stir your ingredients with ice to chill them.
  4. Strain: Pour the drink into a new glass, leaving the used ice behind.
Ice Cube

Garnishes and Presentation

Why They’re Essential: Garnishes add visual appeal and can enhance the flavour profile.

How to Garnish:

  1. Select a Garnish: Choose one that complements the drink’s flavours.
  2. Prepare the Garnish: Cut fresh fruit or herbs as needed.
  3. Place the Garnish: Add it to the drink or the rim of the glass.
  4. Serve Immediately: Present the drink while it’s fresh and appealing.
Garnishes and Presentation in bourbon mixing
Credits to Business Insider

The Finishing Touch: Garnishes and Presentation

The final flourish to any bourbon cocktail is the garnish. This section will guide you through choosing and applying garnishes that look good and complement the drink’s flavors.

Choosing the Right Garnish

Why it’s Crucial: A garnish does more than decorate; it can enhance the drink’s aroma and taste.

Selecting Your Garnish:

  1. Complementary Flavors: Pick garnishes that echo the ingredients in your drink.
  2. Seasonal Freshness: Use fresh, in-season produce for the best flavour.
  3. Visual Appeal: Consider the colour and shape for a visually pleasing presentation.
Choosing the Right Garnish in bourbon mixing
Credits to Epicurious

Preparing Your Garnish

How to Prepare:

  1. Wash and Dry: Clean all fruits and herbs thoroughly.
  2. Cut and Shape: Slice fruits neatly and pick herb leaves gently.
  3. Store Properly: Keep garnishes cool until ready to use.

Applying Your Garnish

How to Apply:

  1. Rim the Glass: Run a fruit wedge around the rim if desired.
  2. Add to the Drink: Place your garnish directly in the drink or on the rim.
  3. Serve Promptly: Present the drink immediately to maintain freshness.

Final Analysis

This is all about what is best to mix with bourbon. The journey through the world of bourbon mixology is one of personal discovery and enjoyment. As you experiment with the various mixers and garnishes suggested, remember that the ultimate goal is to find what pleases your palate. Trust your senses, be bold in your choices, and don’t shy away from trying something new. 

Each bourbon has its story, and your mixers can bring out its unique narrative. So, take these tips as your starting point and embark on a flavorful adventure that will deepen your appreciation for this timeless spirit. Whether you’re crafting a drink for a quiet evening or a festive gathering, let your creativity and taste guide you to your perfect bourbon experience.


Disclosure: Our blog contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

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