Bartenders Pick The Best Bottles Of Bourbon For National Bourbon Day
The summer is full of food and drink related holidays. Some of them are less important (we’re looking at you National Tapioca Day), but others deserve a whole week instead of just one measly day. The latter includes National Bourbon Day (June 14th). Celebrated this Friday, the holiday is a love letter to Kentucky’s native spirit (although it doesn’t need to be made in The Blue Grass State).
The sweet, corn-fueled, aged spirit is perfectly suited for sharing a glass (or three) with friends and family around a summer campfire or mixed into a refreshing highball. Just like you, bartenders will be celebrating the holiday and they were nice enough to tell us which bourbons they’d be sipping on.
Cari Hah, bar manager at Big Bar in Los Angeles
Legent Whiskey is my favorite bourbon to drink this summer. Legent is a really amazing collaboration whiskey between Fred Noe, the master distiller of Jim Beam and Shinji Fukuyo, the master blender of Suntory Whisky. It has every yummy flavor that is associated with good bourbon but in a more nuanced, elegant, subtle flavor profile that I love in Suntory whisky.
It is perfect for summer drinking!
Daniel King, beverage director at Butchertown Hall in Nashville
Is it an option to say that I don’t usually drink bourbon in the summertime? Honestly, though, bourbon is bourbon no matter what time of year for me. If I’m going to sip bourbon, it’s going to be Willett.
Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon
Josh Cameron, head bartender at Boulton & Watt in New York City
This summer, in addition to my year around go-to Russell’s Reserve, I am drinking the Texas-born, straight shooting, and strong, Garrison Brothers Bourbon. I’m loyal to Kentucky and have had a few Texas whiskeys that I would never recommend, so I was surprised when my buddy offered me a taste of their flagship. Bold, strong, and like the best bourbons, without apology.
Brock Schulte, bar director at The Monarch Cocktail Bar & Lounge in Kansas City
My favorite is probably Blanton’s. I like whiskey on a large, perfect ice cube; Blanton’s is — ounce for ounce — an industry standard in regard to flavor and price point. If I can’t find a bottle, I’m no stranger to Weller Special Reserve, Antique 107 or 12 year.
Elmer T. Lee
Rico Velasquez, Bartender at Jaleo by José Andrés in Las Vegas
For a summer drinking bourbon, I would choose Elmer T. Lee, a single barrel bourbon from Buffalo Trace Distillery. Elmer was the first master distiller at Buffalo Trace and the first to bottle a single barrel bourbon. Despite being 100 years old, he still tastes barrels to make sure they are to his liking.
Drink with a single cube or straight to taste the bourbon’s vanilla, honey, and light fruit notes.
Hudson Baby Bourbon
Nikki McCutcheon, beverage director at Moxy Time Square in New York City
I enjoy Hudson Baby Bourbon or Bulleit Bourbon when drinking in the summer. Both bourbon’s both have a smooth vanilla and caramel finish because of their oak aging, which blends nicely in Juleps and other summer whiskey classics.
Sonoma Cherrywood Smoked Bourbon
Mitch Barela from Old Vine Kitchen + Bar in Costa Mesa, California
Hands-down, Sonoma Cherrywood. I’m a big bourbon fan, and this one from Sonoma (yes, California) is kind of incredible. With notes of maraschino cherry and allspice, it makes for the perfect old fashioned. Or keep it clean; throw a cube in a glass, fill ‘er up, and enjoy. Either way, you’re taste buds are in bourbon heaven.
Four Roses Single Barrel
Victoria Levin, director of project management at Blau + Associates in Las Vegas
Four Roses Single Barrel is a great mid-priced option that bodes well at a summer BBQ because it’s delicious but inoffensive. I personally really enjoy Angel’s Envy, it’s got a sweetness that’s not cloying and drinks super smooth with one ice cube.
Bulleit 10 Year
Amanda Britton, bar manager at Bardo in Charlotte, North Carolina
What’s my favorite bourbon for summer drinking and why? In the summer I like mixing my bourbon. I tend to reach for high rye bourbons like Bulleit. It adds some depth & spice to whatever it’s mixed with.
James E. Pepper
Ilan Chartor, spiritual advisor at KYU in Miami
My favorite summertime bourbon is James E. Pepper. with amazing hints of citrus, oak, and spice, I feel like it’s perfect for a whiskey sour, which is a great bourbon summertime cocktail.
Courtesy of Sean Stangle, bartender at Estiatorio Milos in Las Vegas
Nothing compliments a lazy summer afternoon than the right bourbon over a little ice. My go-to has always been Eagle Rare 10 year. Easily available unlike many bourbons of this quality, This bottle comes in at about $40 at your favorite liquor store and isn’t too ‘hot’, so it won’t overwhelm you.
Dylan Knox, bartender at Vol. 39 in Chicago
My favorite bourbon? I always have a bottle of Weller special reserve at home. Love the soft mouthfeel of a wheated bourbon. This one goes down very smooth in the summertime.
Michter’s Small Batch
Lucas Swallows, bar director at Momofuku in Las Vegas
I tend to slow down on aged spirits in the summer, but Michter’s Small Batch Bourbon is soft and great in a simple highball application.
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