Prior to the “Bourbon Boom” of the 2010s, America’s Native Spirit far-too-often took a backseat in the world of cocktail development. And while there isn’t always a singular reason behind spirits trends, there’s long been a perception that rye whiskey’s stereotypically “spicier” flavors held up better in a cocktail than bourbon. But as many whiskey aficionados discover, bourbon can more than hold its own in a mixed drink. Bourbon’s natural sweetness — along with immense taste variations among brands, proofs, and ages — makes it a natural fit for flavor tinkerers.
Today, bourbon cocktails are a cornerstone in some of the most innovative menus around. (Sometimes, that’s not even counting the countless reimaginations of an Old Fashioned.) And as with many aspects of modern mixology, women are often leading the charge with both innovative takes on classics and brand new flavors.
We spoke with four mixologists — some of the most celebrated women in the business — with a penchant for bourbon cocktails. They shared original recipes for their favorite creations, along with tips for home bartenders looking to break a bit out of the ordinary.
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