Enjoy The Last Warm Days of the Year with These 10 Bourbon Cocktails

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Midnight Stinger at The Dorsey
Midnight Stinger at The Dorsey.
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Fall is upon us, but these last couple of weeks have felt more like Summer than scarf weather. Before it feels right to even consider anything with the words “pumpkin” or “spice” in the name, the temperature has to drop and the last days of heat waves have to leave us.

But that can be a blessing in disguise for those of us who want to get a few last warm-weather cocktails in, and soak up the afternoon rays on a bench or a rocker.

We talked to some of the world’s best bartenders to find recipes worthy of the season’s last fleeting moments. Pour, mix, and enjoy—and remember that Fall’s not so bad.

No Handlebars

Up in Portland’s legendary Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library, lead bartender Nic Antico recommends making lighter cocktails with notes of honey and floral notes for the warmer months. Get creative with your honey, too. “At MWL we’ve recently been using three different kinds of honey syrup from Bee Local Honey, which all have astoundingly different flavors,” Antico says. “Just mix two parts warm honey with one part water to make a workable syrup.”

1.5 oz Weller 107 Bourbon
1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
.5 oz. Honey Syrup (2 honey: 1 water)
.5 oz. Huckleberry Preserves
.5 oz. Montenegro Amaro

Dry-stir to integrate the fruit preserves, then shake with ice and strain into a double rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon peel and a few berries, if you’ve got them.

Black Tea Cooler

Forget what you know about making tea when you whip up this pitcher-friendly cocktail from China-based Chris Lowder, Spirits Evangelist for Proof & Company. “For this cocktail, start with steeping a heavy cup of black tea,” Lowder says. “Use double the tea bags you would usually use – it gives the drink a nice kick of flavor and a welcome pick-me-up of caffeine to help you get the most out of the last gasp of summer.” Chill the tea beforehand (but not more than a day in advance).

1.5 oz. Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
.75 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
.5 oz. Raspberry Syrup
2 oz. Over-steeped Black Tea (Chill the tea beforehand, but not more than one day in advance)
1 oz. East Imperial Soda Water

For the raspberry syrup, add one cup of white sugar to one cup of very hot water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Then while still hot, muddle in 12 raspberries. You can use IQF frozen raspberries if you want to… they don’t have to be pretty since we’re muddling here. Let this syrup sit until it’s cool, and then fine-strain. You’re not looking for crazy raspberry flavor here – just enough to give the drink a nice little dose of summertime. Once all the ingredients are cool and ready to go, simply pour them into a chilled Collins glass filled with ice. Add the soda water in last and give it a quick stir. If you’re feeling fancy, feel free to chuck in a lemon wheel and a few extra raspberries for good measure.

Beau Four

The Beau Four comes from bar director Leo Robitschek, mastermind behind the bar delights of NoMad Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. “This lighter take on a Manhattan has hints of orange and mint from the Amaros with a refreshing tone from the cucumber.” Robitschek went with Old Forester 86 proof for its high rye content and honey-esque finish. “The whiskey has upfront fruit and spice notes that works as a great backbone for the drink,” he says.

1 cucumber slice
.5 oz Foro Amaro
.5 oz Nardini Amaro
.75 oz Dolin dry vermouth
1.5 oz Old Forester 86 bourbon

Combine all ingredients and stir with a cucumber slice. Make sure not to muddle the cucumber as it drastically changes the flavor. Pour the cocktail in a mixing glass and garnish with a cucumber slice.

Shambles

The end of summer isn’t such a bummer when you’re in Hawaii, but Pint & Jigger co-owner Dave Newman in Honolulu has a recipe for the occasion nonetheless. “This time of year marks a transition time from the carefree hot days of summer, moving into the fall and beginning of the holiday season,” he says. “It’s still too warm for whiskey on the rocks, hot toddies or a Manhattan, for that matter.” Try his gap-bridging riff on a Manhattan, with lighter notes of St. Germain and Pimm’s. Don’t ruin it by using old Punt e Mes. “Many people still make the mistake of leaving it out of the fridge or buying a bottle that is too big, so they let it sit around too long,” says Newman. “Remember to treat your vermouth like you would an open bottle of wine, preferably using it up in a few days if possible.”

1.5 oz Elijah Craig
.5 oz Pimm’s #1
.5 oz St. Germain
.5 oz Punt e Mes Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, stir and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Bourbon, Watermlon, Mint Jalab from Accomplice Bar in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Grant Cornett (from Clean + Dirty Drinking) .
Bourbon, Watermlon, Mint Jalab from Accomplice Bar in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Grant Cornett (from Clean + Dirty Drinking) .

Bourbon, Watermelon, Mint Jalab

Take advantage of watermelon season with this recipe from Gaby Mlynarczyk of Los Angeles’ Accomplice Bar. “This drink celebrates the epitome of summer produce, watermelon, roses and fresh mint in this thirst-quenching, spirited version of a Jalab, a booze-free precursor to the julep drank all over the Middle East,” says Mlynarczyk. If you really want to blow out the end of summer, serve this cocktail in a hollowed-out mini watermelon. Look for more of Mlynarczyk’s creations in her forthcoming book, Clean + Dirty Drinking.

2 oz bourbon
2 oz watermelon mint juice ( watermelon and mint leaves that get blended or juiced together; strain before using)
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz 1:1 simple syrup
1/4 oz rosewater ( try Saddaf or Al Wahdi brands )
Optional Thai basil for muddling

If using basil add to shaker tin with simple syrup and using a muddler or back of a wooden spoon crush once or twice. Add remaining ingredients and whip shake with one ice cube. Fill a julep tin or glass with crushed ice. Strain the contents of your shaking tin into ice filled glass

garnish with a mass of mint and basil sprigs for aromatic bliss.

The Bar at 9 Below, Dublin, Ireland.
The Bar at 9 Below, Dublin, Ireland.

Southern Peach Smash

The bourbon of choice for Stephen Wynne of Dublin’s 9 Below has been Woodford Reserve since early on in his bartending career. “[I] couldn’t believe the complexity and roundness of flavours and aromas I was personally getting from this bourbon,” he says. Try his crowd pleasing riff on a Bourbon Smash he calls “really approachable for non-bourbon drinkers, it’s soft and full of flavor.”

2 oz of Woodford reserve
1 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz of sugar syrup 2:1
8-10 fresh mint leaves
1 oz of fresh peach juice or 1 full muddled peach

Shake together ingredients. Fine strained over ice. Top up with soda water/sparkling water. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

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Brandy might be the focus at Tokyo’s Bar B&F, but that doesn’t mean bar manager Takeshi Matsuzawa isn’t a bourbon fan. “It is sweeter than other whiskey because it is made from corn,” he says. “And it has strength like the United States.” Throw your bourbon (in this case Buffalo Trace) in the freezer ahead of time for the best result.

1.5 oz bourbon
1/3 oz  crème de Cassis

Combine ingredients, pour over ice and top up with ginger beer or ginger ale.

Off the Cuff

With the exception of the New York state bourbon, everything you need to make this cocktail  from Frank Maldonado of Diego, the hidden cocktail lounge at New York’s PUBLIC Hotel, is available at your local grocery store.  “I wanted to make a bourbon cocktail that’s balanced, refreshing and has depth,” Maldonado says. “With the final month of summer upon us and fall right around the corner, this bourbon cocktail is something that reminds us that bourbon can stand strong against the summer heat as well as the cold of winter.”

2 oz Most Righteous Bourbon
.5 oz Blue Curacao
.75 oz Lime
.5 oz Orgeat Syrup  (1 Part Unsweetened Vanilla Flavored Almond Milk 2 Part Sugar, Preferably Granulated)
Touch of Almond Extract)
.75 oz Coco Lopez
Crushed Ice

Pour all the ingredients into a tall glass, add crushed ice, then swizzle the drink to help with mixing.

Bourbon Mule

Don’t cut corners when you’re making this straightforward classic. “Make sure you’re using fresh lime juice, it makes all the difference,” says Maximiliano Vallée Valletta, directeur général of Montreal’s Brasserie Les Enfants Terribles. “Also, don’t be afraid to take a few sips before serving it so you can adjust the cocktail to your taste by adding more ginger beer or syrup.”

1.5 oz of Bulleit bourbon
.75 oz of fresh lime juice
.5 oz of strawberry or maple syrup
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
4 oz of ginger beer

Pour all the ingredients into a mule cup filled with ice and stir for 10 turns.

Midnight Stinger at The Dorsey
Midnight Stinger at The Dorsey.

Midnight Stinger

The Midnight Stinger was such a popular cocktail from day one at The Dorsey at The Venetian Las Vegas that the bar team kept in on the menu ever since. “It’s super refreshing and great for end of summer,” says lead bartender Juyoung Kang. “The minty-herbal taste of Fernet Branca keeps this sour from being too lemon-balmy and brings a more backboned refreshing flavor while the bourbon brings a heartiness to the whole cocktail.”

Juyoung Kang from The Dorsey at The Venetian Las Vegas.

1 oz Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon
1 oz Fernet Branca
.75 oz Lemon juice
.75 oz simple syrup

Serve over crushed ice and some mint sprigs to garnish.