Just about everyone loves a great bourbon cocktail. Unfortunately, many assume only non-aged value spirits belong in mixed drinks, where any faults or flaws will be happily disguised by other ingredients. Aged bourbons, they say, are only for sipping straight.
While there’s no discounting the joy of sipping an aged bourbon in its purest glory, don’t overlook the opportunity to use that special bottle in a well-made cocktail. Thanks to its rich complexity and time-developed flavors, an aged bourbon can enhance and improve any number of classics, as well as more modern recipes. Where a no-age-statement (NAS) bourbon often shows off its sharp elbows and broad shoulders, an aged bourbon brings refinement and higher quality to the glass, creating something so charismatic it can become way more than the sum of its parts — offering more depth, greater complexity, and stronger flavor profiles than drinks made with off-the-shelf spirits.
If you have the chance to mix a cocktail — or order one — made with Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Old, jump on it. Crafted from the same core liquid of Bulleit Bourbon – its 10 Year Old counterpart is an exemplar of a rich, deep, smooth aged Bourbon with lots of character.
So expand your palate and upgrade your cocktail by trying an aged bourbon in any of these five classic cocktails, and prepare for a truly modern high-quality experience.
In the late 19th century when mixed drinks started becoming more baroque, customers began requesting them made in the “old-fashioned” way — generally with just spirits, bitters, sugar, and water — instead of the more complex newfangled versions. That term stuck, and the Old Fashioned was born. In this flagship of bourbon cocktails, a “call” spirit like bourbon will stand up to its mix-ins. Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Old with its high-rye content will showcase oaky aromas, along with vanilla, peppery spices, and a long, smoky finish. To complement that final finishing note even further, make yours a Smoked Old Fashioned, by using a smoke gun — a special tool for quickly adding smoky flavors and aromas to foods and cocktails — or adding smoked ice. After all, a bit of baroque never hurt anyone.
Part cocktail, part rich dessert, a decadent Manhattan is an after-dinner classic. With its high-rye content of 28 percent, Bulleit 10 Year Old will perform much more like the drink’s traditional rye whiskey than bourbons made with a lower amount of rye, while still offering the smooth body of a spirit that has aged for over a decade. Look for a combination of ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and other baking spices, as well as resounding notes of cherries and dark chocolate.
Improved Whiskey Cocktail
The counterpart to the Old Fashioned is this dressed-up “newcomer,” or at least it was considered as such when it appeared in Jerry Thomas’s “The Bar-Tender’s Guide” in 1887. To give this sweet cocktail a bit of cutting depth and slight spice look to Bulleit 10 Year Old, which can help balance the rich overtones of walnuts, bitter almonds, marzipan, and almond cookies, and complement the dash of absinthe with Bulleit’s own spicy vanilla and anise notes.
Originally made with Cognac but more commonly built around rye whiskey today, a Sazerac works especially well with a high-rye bourbon. Bulleit 10 Year Old will offer the grain’s typical peppery flavors while also contributing both balance and fullness, thanks to its corn and barley. The recipe’s Peychaud bitters will bring out even more citrus and anise notes when you use an aged bourbon, which can also offer hints of banana, caramel, and vanilla.
The Boulevardier takes a classic Negroni and subs in bourbon for the gin. While typically thought of as a Negroni variation, the Boulevardier might have in fact predated it, as it was invented in 1920s Paris by the expatriate Erskine Gwynne, the publisher of an English-language magazine with the same name. Typically bitter, sweet, and highly nuanced, a Boulevardier made with an aged bourbon is smoother and better balanced. For a far more complex taste, look to Bulleit 10 Year Old to contribute a lasting, smoky finish that invites sip after sip.
A favorite for those without extensive liquor cabinets, the three-ingredient Brown Derby requires no obscure liqueurs. Instead, this citrus-forward brunch fave requires just two basics from the corner store: honey and grapefruit. Among the whiskey cocktails that are freshest and lightest on the palate, a great Brown Derby pairs bourbon’s vanilla and caramel with tangy grapefruit juice. You’ll get even more depth of flavor, spice, and fruit if you use an aged bourbon, like Bulleit 10 Year Old, which will also play off your choice of garnish. With a spicy, high-rye bourbon, try a whole cinnamon stick, a clove-studded orange wheel, or sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme, or sage.
This article is sponsored by Bulleit Frontier Whiskey.