Whether you’re hoping to curl up in front of a fire with a seasonal drink or need a delicious holiday cocktail recipe to serve a crowd, bourbon is a great choice during the Christmas season.
That’s why it’s one of my favorite spirits to drink during the holidays. If you’re a fan of a classic whiskey drink like me, you’re going to love these Christmas Bourbon Cocktails!
Bourbon is something I was introduced to by my husband’s family and is part of their holiday tradition. Over the years, I’ve learned to love it and now enjoy adding it to our Christmas celebrations too.
And since bourbon is a classic cocktail ingredient – it’s featured in popular drinks like an Old Fashioned and Manhattan – these holiday cocktail recipes are sure to be a hit at any Christmas party. Or even sipped while playing a Hallmark drinking game.
Why is Bourbon Great at Christmas
Not only can it be sipped on its own, but bourbon is a great liquor to use in cocktail recipes. It brings a complex and warm flavor with notes of spices.
From festive cocktails featuring seasonal ingredients to refreshing drinks perfect for a party, you’ll find a variety of delicious recipes to enjoy this Christmas.
Sometimes you can taste smokiness from the barrel aging process. And it is often described as tasting like vanilla with hints of caramel and oak.
It can be served hot or cold so it works well in classic drink recipes like a Bourbon Mule and also hot toddies.
Plus it pairs perfectly with other holiday flavors like cranberry, cider, and cinnamon.
A bottle of bourbon also makes a great hostess gift idea as it’s a great way to toast the holidays! And it’s also FREAKING AMAZING in my Bourbon Cake recipe.
How to Pick the Best Bourbon
Before you can start preparing these bourbon holiday cocktails, you’re going to need to find the perfect bottle for your drinks. But if you’re not a bourbon expert, knowing what to look for can be difficult!
One of the most confusing parts about purchasing bourbon is understanding the difference between bourbon and whiskey.
While bourbon is a whiskey, whiskey isn’t always a bourbon. Although the process of making whiskey and bourbon is similar – both are made from a fermented grain mash and aged in wood barrels – the characteristics of each alcohol variety are slightly different.
As you search for the best bottle of bourbon for your next holiday get-together, look for these characteristics:
The key to distinguishing between a bourbon and rye whiskey is corn. To be labeled a bourbon, the liquor must be made with at least 51% corn mash. Brands featuring more corn are often sweeter.
Bourbons with a high rye content (more than 10%) typically have a spicier flavor while bourbons with a high wheat content usually have a nuttier flavor.
In addition to its ingredients, bourbon also has a time limit on its aging process. Bourbon must be aged for at least four years, so it’s a good idea to check the age statement on your bottle. Typically, the longer the bourbon has been aged, the bolder the flavor will be.
Where it’s Made
While whiskey can be produced anywhere in the world, bourbon can only be made in America. Kentucky is the most popular distilling location in the US, but bourbon can be brewed anywhere in the country.
If you’re searching for a pure bourbon that’s full of flavor, looking for cask strength or barrel-proof bourbon is the way to go.
While most bourbon varieties are cut with water to reach the distiller’s desired proof, cask strength bourbon is poured straight from the barrel to the bottle, creating a spiced, woody flavor in the whiskey.
For Making Cocktails
The points above are awesome to know if you are planning to drink the bourbon straight. When you are using it to make cocktails, you can worry a little bit less about the nuances as the other drink ingredients will blend the flavors.
Bourbon can be very expensive, and those bottles are typically better for sipping. Look for a mid-priced bottle that still tastes great, but you won’t feel bad about using in a mixed drink.
Some bourbon brands I enjoy, that are affordable and also great for using in Christmas Bourbon Cocktails are:
Can you substitute Whiskey for Bourbon
In my opinion, you can substitute whiskey for bourbon in any of these recipes. Bourbon tends to be slightly sweeter but for the most part, they are similar enough to substitute.
- Try this Non-Dairy Bourbon Milk Punch. It’s totally unique and perfect for people who don’t want dairy in their drinks.
- You can easily add a little bourbon to my Mulled Spiced Cider for a delicious warm, wintery drink.
- If you’re not into bourbon, a classic Vodka and Cranberry is just right. It’s a gorgeous color and super tasty.