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Five Brilliant Bourbon Cocktails, Featuring The Manhattan

By: Faria Ferdous Ellesson

manhattan cocktail

Made only in America, Bourbon is a corn whisky that’s truly unique. With a slightly sweeter profile than other whiskies, you’ll find notes of woody oak, honeyed caramel and warming vanilla to create a tasting profile that’s unlike any other whisky in the world. Whether you’re looking for a trip to New York with an authentic Manhattan, or you’d like to wet your whistle with a southern Kentucky mule, our resident whisky expert, Adam Hussein, will take you on an American tour with our top bourbon cocktails. 

Adam Jamie Hussein is a seasoned professional at the intersection of the luxury hospitality and exceptional spirits industries. With over a decade of experience, working in some of the world’s finest venues, Adam has dedicated his journey to enhancing the world of premium guest experiences and fine whisky.

The Manhattan

This distinctive New York cocktail has stood the test of time thanks to its balance of sweet, herbaceous, aromatic flavours. But there’s one debate that the jury’s still out on – bourbon or rye? And there’s no right or wrong answer. You can even make a blended whisky Manhattan, or a single malt Manhattan, if you like. But purists will stick to tradition and use a true American whisky – perhaps a smoky, spicy bourbon that sings with the sweet vermouth, contrasted against the sharp, aromatic bitters, for a cocktail that'll take you straight to the Upper East Side. Try this recipe for the ultimate city drink.  


40ml Bulleit Bourbon 
15ml sweet vermouth 
2 dashes Angostura bitters 
Maraschino cherry


Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. 

Stir and strain into a chilled coupe or rocks glass. 

Garnish with a Maraschino cherry on a cocktail pick.

manhattan cocktail

“A well-balanced Manhattan is at the pinnacle of the cocktail world. Easy to underestimate, the Manhattan cocktail is simple by design but complex by flavour. I tend to lean toward a rye-heavy style of whisky due to the complexity and the spiciness it adds to the cocktail. With your garnishes, be playful, a good maraschino cherry or an orange peel is a true delight.”

The Classic Old Fashioned 

For a timeless cocktail, the Old Fashioned never fails. And the classic version always calls for bourbon. It's actually very similar to the Manhattan, but dates back even further. The difference? Just swap vermouth for sugar. A small change, with a big difference. With fewer complex flavours, the simplicity of the sugar adds sweetness, while letting the whisky sing for itself. Add a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters, an orange peel to garnish, and let the bourbon show you its true colours.  
“Because there are so many complex layers to this timeless cocktail, my personal preference is to double garnish with both lemon and orange peel, releasing a plethora of balanced aromas to elevate your Old Fashioned. And if you want to change it from the inside out, try using demerara sugar syrup in place of regular sugar.”

The Whisky Sour  

Cut through the gentle sweetness of bourbon with a sour, citrusy edge, in this well-balanced, moreish cocktail. Egg whites hold the contrasting flavours together beautifully, softening both the sweet and sour notes into a richer combined experience that lingers on the palate for longer. This cocktail comes alive when shaken, so make sure you’ve got a shaker at hand. The magic really happens when these seemingly divergent ingredients amalgamate into one congruous cocktail after a vigorous shake.

whisky sour

“The rich, sweetness of Bourbon, as opposed to any other whisky, is what makes this cocktail exceptional. Egg white enhances the flavours that exist within the cocktail, but don’t worry about it tasting eggy, that flavour comes from the yolk, not the whites. There are also vegan alternatives, such as aquafaba, which work just as well. To garnish, I like to dash 3 or 4 drops of Angostura bitters atop the cocktail and then give it a quick swish with a cocktail pick or small straw.”

The Kentucky Mule      

Take a Moscow Mule to the Southern States for this American twist on a beloved cocktail. Simply switch Moscow’s vodka for Kentucky’s whisky, and you’ve got it. The balance between the warm richness of a sweet bourbon, the tingling spiciness of ginger, and the sharp tartness of lime, make this cocktail a true sensation. Garnish with a sprig of mint for an impressive addition to your bourbon cocktail repertoire. Serve to friends and they’ll be sure to know it ain’t your first rodeo.

“I like to make my own ginger syrup, to really bring out the true flavour of the spicy root, and it can also be used for other cocktails, or as a base for a tea. Simply juice fresh ginger and mix it with equal parts caster sugar, and enjoy the real spice. If you use your own ginger syrup, then you can also top the drink with soda water rather than ginger ale or ginger beer.”

The Long Shot 

Beer and bourbon pair wonderfully well together, when done right. The softness of a sweet bourbon lends itself beautifully to a hoppy, fruity, American pale ale, in a way that’s refreshingly palate pleasing. Served in a long glass filled with ice cubes, with a touch of astringency thanks to some lemon juice, and amplified sweetness from some sugar syrup, this cocktail is a perfectly citrusy, cooling companion to a hot summer’s day. An exciting way to unlock the rich flavours of a brilliant bourbon.

long shot

“You could try experimenting further by adding a fruity liqueur to complement the hoppy ale or try a flavoured beer to add further depth. But one thing that will really enhance the tasting experience of this     cocktail, is serving it in a chilled or even frozen glass, keeping it fresher for longer.”

Over to you 

From timeless classics, to modern twists, you now have five fantastic bourbon cocktails to add to your collection. Choose the way you want to celebrate this southern spirit, and make your own spin on these delicious recipes. And if you’d rather keep it super simple, you can always enjoy a quick and easy drink with a mixer – try a bourbon and cola, bourbon and soda, or bourbon and ginger ale. The possibilities are truly endless with this uniquely sweet yet spicy whisky.

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