Bourbon Cocktails

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Bourbon, brandy, and whiskey–a few of the so-called “brown liquors”–are enjoying a surge in popularity. Although those new to the cocktail scene may forgo bourbon in favour of vodka, this dry and spicy spirit is more versatile than you may think.

Matt Bryan, mixologist for the McEwan Group and head bartender at Bymark (66 Wellington St. West; Toronto, ON; (416) 777-1144), was our guide through the world of bourbon during the newly-launched Liquid Lab series. As he explained, in order to wear the designation, the liquor must include corn (at least 51%), rye or wheat, malted barely, and water. It must also be aged for at least two years in a new, white American oak cast–used only once.

He then took us through an interactive tutorial on making the three bourbon cocktails listed here. Easy to assemble and to pair with the complementary dishes (spicy shrimp; creamy deviled quail eggs; a variation on the famous Bymark burger), it was a wonderful introduction to America’s  native spirit.

The Old Fashioned
The classic bourbon cocktail, traditionally stirred with a spoon and served with it.


  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1 Sugar cube
  • 1/2 oz Water
  • 3 – 4 Dashes of angostura bitters


  1. Coat sugar cube in bitters in the bottom of an old fashioned glass
  2. Add water and muddle sugar cube until dissolved
  3. Fill glass with ice and add bourbon; stir to mix
  4. Garnish with orange zest and serve with teaspoon

The Boulevardier
A strong sipping cocktail, this is one that looks innocent but packs a mighty punch.


  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Sweet vermouth


  1. Add all ingredients to mixing glass with ice, stir and strain into a coupe glass
  2. Garnish with citrus peel–lemon or lime

Paper planes
A newer bourbon cocktail created by mixologist Sam Ross while listening to (what else?) M.I.A.’s hit song, ‘Paper Planes.’ A good choice for those who prefer a lighter, sweeter drink.


  • 3/4 oz Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Amaro nonino
  • 3/4 oz Aperol
  • 3/4 oz Lemon juice


  1. Add all ingredients to shaker filled with ice
  2. Shake well and strain over ice in a rocks glass or neat in a coupe glass
  3. Garnish with lemon zest