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As a lover of bourbon and American whiskey in general, I often find myself in situations where I get to share my love of these spirits with others. Usually, when I give a friend a bottle of bourbon who doesn’t drink whiskey too often or who is showing curiosity about it, they ask how they should drink it. When I say drink it however you want, they almost always follow up with “Well how would you drink this?”

After going through this dance more times than I can count, I decided that it’s time I finally wrote out the definitive guide on how to drink bourbon. Below you’ll find most, but not necessarily all, of the right and wrong ways to drink bourbon (or any whiskey for that matter). This resource will help anyone who is in need of direction on how to properly drink their bourbon.

The first step is picking out a bottle of whiskey to drink. It could be an American whiskey, a rye whiskey, a malt whiskey, or, my personal favorite, a bourbon. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be good, old to taste good, and it doesn’t need to come in a fancy bottle. All that counts is that you have a bottle in hand you want to try. Once you get past this first (and often the hardest) step, you’re 90% of the way and ready to drink it the right way. This includes:

Bourbon and ginger, bourbon and diet coke, or bourbon and many other carbonated syrupy beverages can taste delicious. Full stop. There is nothing wrong with drinking your bourbon this way. In fact, this is the kick-off point for many people, slowly pouring less and less of the mixer as they start to acquire the taste of just bourbon itself. And if you don’t ever like drinking your bourbon without one of these mixers, who cares, because this is definitely the correct way to drink bourbon.

An Old Fashioned, a Manhattan, and a Whiskey Smash, are just a few of an infinite number of cocktails that you can drink whiskey in. The beauty is that each whiskey can bring a different flavor to the exact same cocktail. A lot of people ask if it is ever wasteful to use a certain bourbon in a given cocktail. To that I say never, because this is definitely the correct way to drink bourbon.

Let’s be real here. Sometimes you just like a splash of water with your bourbon. It might be because you want to lower the proof down a bit, or maybe you want to add a few drops to see how it will change the flavor profile. You should never feel guilty about adding water to your glass, because this is definitely the correct way to drink bourbon.

Do you normally like to have your drinks be ice cold? Go on ahead and add one or more ice cubes to your glass. There is nothing wrong at all with drinking your bourbon this way, and many people often find themselves preferring a couple of cubes in their glass whenever they drink bourbon. Sometimes nothing beats an ice cold bourbon on a hot day. So next time you’re debating if it’s okay to reach into the freezer for some ice, reach right in and don’t feel guilty, because this is definitely the correct way to drink bourbon.

Many people just like the taste of their whiskey in an unadulterated form. They might feel they want to taste the whiskey just like it was as it went into the bottle, or maybe they just like the explosion of flavors that the whiskey provides. To those folks I say yup, you’re right, because this is definitely the correct way to drink bourbon.

Ah the Glencairn. The glass that is synonymous with drinking whiskey and has been adopted by bourbon lovers far and wide. It looks fancy and sophisticated and many people feel like they’ve elevated their bourbon game when they pour their whiskey into this glass. I own more Glencairns than I can count and they’re always fun to hand out to friends and family to give a try. If you’re wondering if these are worth the price, look no further, because using one is definitely the correct way to drink bourbon.

A red Solo Cup has become synonymous with parties. Whether it’s a college frat party, a summer BBQ, or just a family gathering where you’d like to avoid doing dishes, a Solo Cup comes to mind as the drinkware of choice. This unpretentious vessel of choice for many is the perfect container to drink whiskey out of. Don’t let anyone ever snub their nose at this versatile beauty, because using one is definitely the correct way to drink bourbon.

Whiskey is a great way to connect with others, however, sometimes you just need some alone time. Quietly reflecting with a bourbon while you contemplate life, or maybe you just want to sit down and enjoy the big game by yourself. No matter what, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a glass or two by yourself, because this is definitely the correct way to drink bourbon.

Bourbon is one of those spirits that has a way of bringing people together. It allows people to slow down and rehash old memories, or brainstorm over new ideas. It’s the perfect way to bond over something together with friends, new and old alike. It can be at an intimate gathering or a raging night club, drinking with friends is always great, because this is definitely the correct way to drink bourbon.

There’s an infinite number of ways to drink bourbon, but one way that you can’t drink it, is when it remains in the bottle. I’m sure everyone has a prized bottle that they plan on opening “someday” to celebrate something special. But life has a funny way of happening. That something special might not ever come, or by the time it does, you’ll feel guilty about opening a bottle you’ve held on to for so long. It’s perfectly fine to look at a bottle that you bought with your own hard-earned money, or received as a gift from a special friend or family member. However, if the whiskey is trapped in the bottle, you’re never going to enjoy it. At the end of the day, an unopened bottle is definitely the wrong way to drink bourbon.

And there you have it, the definitive guide on how to drink bourbon. In truth, I just scratched the surface of various ways to drink bourbon, however, I hope you get the gist. Once that bottle is open, there is no wrong way to drink bourbon. Do you want to drink your bourbon through a straw while hopping on one foot? Go for it. Just don’t let anyone ever make you feel bad or guilty about drinking it a certain way. Everyone has their own individual preferences, and every single person gets to enjoy it however they want. So you drink your bourbon however you want, because ultimately that is definitely the correct way to drink bourbon.

Written By: Jordan Moskal

December 30, 2022
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The definitive guide on how to drink bourbon
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