The Best Bourbon Cocktails For Your 4th Of July Backyard BBQ

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Picking the best bourbon cocktail to serve at a backyard brouhaha for the 4th of July is a tough task. Bourbon is a very versatile whiskey that ebbs and flows between corn-sugar sweet, rye grain spicy, and woody, aged subtlety. There can be big notes of florals and orchard fruits or whispers of smoke and old leather. There’s a lot to work with, is what we’re saying.

The best bourbon cocktail is one that’ll please a crowd flavor-wise while getting them buzzed in the process. With that goal, bourbon can stand in for well-aged rum, fruity brandy, or hang on its own. To help you decide which bourbon cocktail you should consider highlighting this 4th of July, we thought we’d cobble together a list of our eight favorites. This rundown includes a few classics, a few ragers, and a few remixes — they’re all ready for a day of reveling from BBQ time until the last firework sputters in the night sky.

Bluegrass Mai Tai

A Mai Tai is a classic Tiki drink with a dark rum base. But if something uses dark rum, it can certainly use dark bourbon. Mai Tais are a blend of citrus-forward fruits, fatty almond, orange essence, and spicy booze. Find a high rye bourbon that also has a high ABV (think Wild Turkey 101) to help amp up the spiciness. Otherwise, you can build a Mai Tai with bourbon exactly as you would build one with rum.


Build in a cocktail shaker and pour into a pint glass as follows.

  • 2 oz. high-proof bourbon
  • .75 oz. Grand Marnier (or orange curaçao)
  • .75 oz. fresh lime juice
  • .75 oz. Orgeat


  • Fill with ice and shake for ten seconds
  • Pour into a chilled pint glass and top up with more ice
  • Float a 0.5 oz. bourbon over the top
  • Garnish with an orange wheel, cherry, and dusting of nutmeg
  • Serve

Bourbon Old Fashioned

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The bourbon old fashioned is a classic. Spicy bourbon, herbal bitters, orange, and subtle sweetness blend into one of the most satisfying cocktails out there. Our advice, ditch the simple syrup and use raw cane sugar and blend it with a touch of soda water and the bitters first to create a base for your drink.

Once you master that step, you’ll never go back to the overly saccharine simple syrup bases.


Build in an old fashioned (or rocks glass) as follows

  • 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • One barspoon granulated raw sugar
  • One barspoon high-quality sparkling water


  • Stir until fully blended
  • Add 4 oz. bourbon (use your favorite expression)
  • Stir until fully blended
  • Top glass up with ice
  • Stir until glass is chilled to touch
  • Spritz orange oils over the top and drop in orange peel
  • Add luxardo cherry
  • Serve

Maple Mint Julep