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Bartenders Tell Us The Best Bourbons To Sip All Winter Long


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Although you can enjoy bourbon any time of the year, the chilly (and sometimes frigid) weather in winter is perfectly suited for bourbon sipping. There are few things more warming on a cold day than a nice, long sip of whiskey. Even if it doesn’t really warm us up in the strict sense, we don’t care. We just want to change into sweats, grab a fleece blanket, turn on the Netflix show du jour, and slowly sip on a glass of our favorite bourbon.

Bartenders are just like us. That’s why we asked them to tell us their favorite bourbons to sip all winter long. You can check out all of their answers below.

Pappy Van Winkle

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Leo Barbosa, lead bartender at Havana 1920 in San Diego

“Drinking bourbon during the winter is special and memorable. It’s an end of the year treat, a gift to myself to acknowledge the great year it’s been and all that I have to be thankful for. I prefer to indulge in some of America’s finest — Pappy Van Winkle. Every winter, I drink to my hard work and dedication, and theirs.”

Jefferson’s Ocean Bourbon

Pam Wiznitzer, mixologist at Henry at Life Hotel in New York City

“There are so many, but I’m really loving the Jefferson’s Ocean because that hint of sea salt on the palate makes me think of the ocean (which you need to do to combat the cold weather in NYC during winter).”

E.H. Taylor

Sean Keipper, beverage director at Jovanina’s Broken Italian in Denver

“E.H. Taylor is my go-to whiskey for the winter. Exceedingly smooth, delicious, and it has the warming effect you look for in a good winter whiskey; even on the rocks.”

Blanton’s

Jason Shullo, corporate director of beverage for Golden Entertainment in Las Vegas

“What is my favorite bourbon to drink all winter long? Blanton’s. It is a brand that has made a huge impact in a fairly short amount of time and is primed for winter drinking.”

Buffalo Trace

Ricky Cleva, bar manager at Harlowe MXM in Dallas

“Buffalo Trace makes an awesome bourbon. It’s big enough to play centerpiece in a cocktail, yet smooth and complex enough to enjoy on its own. By far one of my favorite bourbons year-round, but especially during the colder winter months.”

Widow Jane

Mel Stewart, bartender at Bubby’s in New York City

“Widow Jane Bourbon—it warms you from the inside out when you take a sip. And every bottle is different because its small batch, so it’s an interesting bourbon to drink. It’s a higher proof too – 55% alcohol.”

Booker’s

Casey Lyons, lead bartender at Pacific Hideaway in Huntington Beach, California

“What is my favorite bourbon to drink all winter long? Bookers for life. Its barrel proof. If you stock up for winter you won’t have to turn on your heater, that’s a promise.”

Russell’s Reserve 10-Year

Jonathan Shock, bar manager at Lady of the House in Detroit

“Russell’s Reserve 10-year bourbon is an absolute favorite of mine. It’s sweet, honey notes can’t be matched by any bourbon on the market. It has everything I want when bourbon calls my name.”

W.L. Weller 12

Andrew Meltzer, beverage director at Noosh in San Francisco

“W.L. Weller 12 year. This ‘wheated’ whiskey will remind you of Maker’s Mark or Pappy Van Winkle (it’s made with same recipe as some of the Pappys that you pay top dollar for). The corn and barley is supplemented with wheat instead of rye. This makes for a smooth and sweet tasting spirit that will surely keep you warm on a cold winter’s night.”

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

Stuart Jensen, owner /beverage director at Brass Tacks in Denver

“I hoard the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases. Even though they’re harder to find lately, it’s still one of the best values in bourbon. Each release is consistent enough to be familiar but has plenty of subtle variations so they’re intriguing in a side by side. It’s the sort of whiskey that you can really linger over and it changes dramatically when you add a little water or ice.”

Woodford Reserve

Tony Gonzalez, lead bartender at District in Los Angeles

“I love Woodford Reserve Bourbon. The whiskey is pretty straight forward. Great aroma, great warmth when going down, and just the right amount of sweetness.”

Eagle Rare

Shawn Stanton, beverage manager at Public House in Ferndale, Michigan

“Eagle Rare. Not only in the winter but all year long, this is my go-to. It’s smooth with a nice bite. It’s great for warming your soul or calming your nerves. It’s best served neat but it’s versatile, so it plays great with others.”

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