We Asked Bartenders The Best Bourbons For Cooking

We get it, you don’t want to waste your favorite whiskey by using it to cook with. Instead, you’ll be sipping your Booker’s and Blanton’s. That’s where cheaper alternatives come in. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the extra kick bourbon or rye whiskey can give to your favorite recipes. But what exactly is the best bourbon to cook with?

“The best bourbon for cooking usually the least expensive,” says Diane Wade, bartender at the Hound’s Tale Corner BARkery in Williamsburg, Virginia. “Since most recipes that call for bourbon require cooking down the alcohol, it’s unnecessary to spend a lot of money on something so fine that will be mixed in with other flavors and taste profiles.”

Matt Tanner, concept beverage manager at Pappas Bros Steakhouse in Houston disagrees. He believes, when cooking, you should start with the mainstays in your liquor cabinet. “I’d go with the bourbon you enjoy drinking, because much like cooking with wine, you don’t want to cook with wine that you wouldn’t drink.”

To give you options, we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us the best bourbons (and one Tennessee whiskey) to cook with.

Wild Turkey 101

Emmanuel “Manny” Pressley, bartender at Brabo Brasserie in Alexandria, Virginia

My mom is a chef, so I feel comfortable in the kitchen. I am a big fan of adding alcohol to dishes and bourbon is a common ingredient in my house. When considering a bourbon for a dish, I think about tasting notes, affordability, and the dish itself. I personally like lighter, seafood dishes and tend to go with bourbons that are great for de-glazing. My recommendation for cooking bourbon is Wild Turkey 101. This bourbon does a great job of picking up every flavor left in the pan while incorporating its own deep and sweet caramel notes.

This adds a nice depth to scallop, crab, and fish dishes.