Bourbon whiskey takes its name from the place where it's been distilled from corn since the 18th century: Bourbon County, Kentucky. You could ask ten afficionados of this type of liqueur how to best drink bourbon whiskey and you might wind up with ten different answers because bourbon is so versatile. Just as rum may be associated with Barbados and vodka with Russia, bourbon whiskey is associated with America.
Most bourbon whisky fans agree that asking the bartender for bourbon and water is a simple yet classic way to drink bourbon whiskey. Pour an ounce of bourbon at room temperature into a rocks glass and add a few drops of spring water. This helps both your nose and your tongue distinguish the complex flavorings of the bourbon. When sipping bourbon, it's important that it be at room temperature and not served over ice, as this will dull the flavor of the whiskey.
One of the best-known ways to drink bourbon whiskey is in a Mint Julep, a cocktail which for years has been the signature cocktail for the Kentucky Derby horse races that are held annually at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
To make a mint julep, place some sugar, a little spring water and several sprigs of fresh mint in the bottom of your cocktail glass and muddle or crush with the flat end of a spoon to release the mint oils. Now fill the glass with crushed ice, add your bourbon and a fresh sprig of mint for garnish and savor.
A Manhattan cocktail, named for New York City, is another classic way to drink bourbon whiskey. In a martini glass, two ounces of bourbon are mixed with some sweet vermouth and three dashes of bitters, and then garnished with a stem-on maraschino cherry.
The classic Bourbon Old Fashioned is another favorite way to drink bourbon whiskey. This cocktail preparation is served in a rocks glass, starting with a mixture of sugar, bitters and spring water muddled long enough for the sugar to dissolve. Then add several ice cubes, three ounces of bourbon whiskey and more ice if desired. The Old Fashioned is traditionally garnished with a lemon peel, stemmed cherry or slice of orange.
The taste of bourbon is also a good complement to other beverages ,and many bourbon fans enjoy drinking bourbon whiskey with a ginger ale or cola back.
For those newly introduced to the pleasure of drinking bourbon whiskey, it's an excellent idea to buy several brands and conduct a taste test of each in order to discover the special nuances in flavor and aroma that vary from distiller to distiller.