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We Asked Bartenders For The Best Bourbons To Bridge The Gap Between Winter And Spring

After a long day of work (potentially in your house, due to the coronavirus), there are few things better than getting into some comfortable clothes, grabbing a nice spot on the couch, turning on Netflix, and sipping on a well-made bourbon. The sweet, corn-centric whiskey is perfectly suited for winter drinking, but nobody is going to stop you from cracking open a bottle of Eagle Rare or Booker’s in the spring (or whatever season it is right now, we’re all inside all day anyway).

Lauren Mathews, lead bartender at Urbana in Washington, DC prefers to stick to a classic this time of year. “Buffalo Trace is a great bridge between the seasons.” She adds, “It’s great in a Manhattan when it’s cold out, and also tastes great in a Paper Plane when you want to start looking towards spring and summer.”

She’s not the only person with strong opinions of season-bridging bourbons. That’s why we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their picks.

Rebel Yell 100

Zach Stout, beverage manager at Clark & Bourbon in St. Louis

Rebel Yell 100. This is a perfect transition from the cold winter high alcohol and spice style bourbons to the spring sipper that is a bit softer and rounder around the edges. Just the right amount of soft sweet kiss from this wheated bourbon to tuck you in before the higher alcohol puts you to bed for the night.

Basil Hayden’s

Billy Cox, Bar Chef at Ocean Prime in Boston

Basil Hayden’s. It’s 80 proof and is lighter than most any other bourbon which makes it great to use in cocktails. An Old Fashioned — when you break it down — it’s just flavoring your favorite bourbon. So why ask the sweet ingredients to battle through 60% alcohol?

Basil Hayden’s will be by your side as the sun shines for longer and our cocktail hours spring into summer.

Old Fitzgerald 13 Year Bottled in Bond

Stephen George, beverage manager at 20|Twenty in Carlsbad, California

I’m going to go with Old Fitzgerald 13 Year Bottled in Bond, because it’s delicious and I’d look for any excuse to drink it, even to bridge the gap between drinks.

Blanton’s Single Barrel

Marina Barona, director of restaurants at The Vinoy Renaissance in St. Petersburg, Florida

Blanton’s Single Barrel has citrus notes balanced with sweeter notes like vanilla and caramel that lead off the front, with some very light floral notes to follow. The finish takes on a dry and slightly bitter tone, with notes of toasted nut and oak joining the floral and citrus notes, while the sweet notes completely dissipate.

Four Roses Small Batch

Kayla Grogan, mixologist at Monarch Rooftop in New York City

Four Roses Small Batch is great neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail, which is important when it comes to seasonal transitions. When it comes to bourbon the winter season, it often calls more for single malts served neat, which provide a sense of warmth. Whereas in the spring, most bourbon drinkers seek something lighter and often on the rocks. Four Roses offers a nice balance. It’s easy to drink and light, but it also contains enough substance to do well on its own neat.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed

Thomas Nesselhauf, manager at Datz Restaurant Group in Tampa, Florida

Wild Turkey Rare Breed. It’s the best bourbon available year-round at just about any price point. You can almost always find it on the shelf, and at under $50 it’s easily the best price/quality product in the category. But don’t tell too many people, or we won’t be able to find it anymore.

Russell’s Reserve 10

Larry Day, beverage manager at Harbor Beach Resort and Spa in Fort, Lauderdale, Florida

Russell’s Reserve 10-year. Its honey notes are far better than any I have tasted. Keeps you warm during the cold spring nights and even colder winter days.

Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Family Reserve

Alex Reznik, director of operations at Mrs. Fish in Los Angeles

Drink fifteen-year-old family reserve Pappy Van Winkle. It’s hard to get your hands on, but that makes it taste even better. All jokes aside, this bourbon was made to be enjoyed, rather than collecting dust on a shelf. Have a glass – you only live once.

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Hector Ortiz, beverage manager at Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve in Puerto Rico

In my opinion, Woodford Reserve would be the best bourbon whiskey to drink between these two seasons because of its smoothness, and its dry fruit flavors and honey flavors, which makes it very, very good.

George T. Stagg

Will Moriarity, beverage director at BLT Steak in Washington D.C.

George T. Stagg has been my go-to for cooler weather months because it has a nice spice note with an intense backbone of caramel and molasses without being overly sweet. Between the main label and the Stagg Jr. you have a great sipping bourbon or a perfect base for your favorite whiskey cocktail.

Belle Meade

Leah Stumbo, bartender at Bar Moxy in Nashville

Belle Meade our mash bourbon. It has a high rye content, which makes it perfect to sip on in the winter and mix in the summer and still have its favor shine through.

Knob Creek Bourbon

Vince Diorides, lead Bartender at Jack Dusty in Sarasota, Florida

The best bourbon to bridge the gap between winter and spring is Knob Creek Bourbon. In Kentucky they say “that bourbon is hot!” The higher the proof, the hotter the bourbon. At 100 proof, this bourbon will warm you up and set your taste buds on fire as you wrap up winter and prepare for spring.

Elijah Craig Small Batch

Juyoung Kang, lead bartender at The Dorsey in Las Vegas

Elijah Craig Small Batch, Makers 46, and Wild Turkey 101; these bourbons are solid, affordable, and make great cocktails – everything from booze forward to a sour or just simply mixing them with a soda of sorts.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Rus Yessenov, director of mixology at Fairmont Royal York in Toronto

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. It has a high quantity of rye in the mash bill for a bourbon, but double barreling creates a velvety spirit that balances the spice.

Old Granddad 114

Pete Bauer, bartender at Giulia in Minneapolis

Old Granddad 114. The high rye content of 114 gives you the spicy snap that you want as the temperatures rise, while its body is still heavy enough to keep you warm if a cold snap hits (and a cold snap is always bound to hit Minnesota in April).

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