Straight up. Neat. On the rocks. The old adage used to be that quality spirits need to be drunk entirely on their own, with nary an ingredient besides water to share the glass. That still holds true for liquor purists, but for those who prefer to share their spirit with other flavors, there are also a myriad of cocktails that beg for a good bourbon. And thanks to bourbon’s complex flavor profiles, the possibilities are, well, practically endless.
Denver-based bartender Lana Gailani agrees. After attending Wild Turkey’s Behind the Barrel program in 2015, she came back to her then-home New York City feeling inspired. Gailani says, “I had come to the distillery already knowing I liked Wild Turkey. The Russells obviously take their job very seriously, but there’s this sense of playfulness, too. So when I got back, having heard all their stories about rolling with mistakes, I felt more encouragement to be experimental with my own drinks.”
A Whiskey Sour deserves a good bourbon. Photo courtesy of Wild Turkey.
When it comes to choosing the right bourbon for the classics, Gailani says she likes to work with Wild Turkey’s 101, stating, “I think they balance their 101 really well. It’s great to have an option in the higher-proof. It really helps to balance strong flavors like sweetness and bitterness. It’s very approachable.”
Eddie Russell, the second generation of Master Distillers at Wild Turkey, concurs. “I think a bourbon has to have enough flavor and proof to stand up to the ingredients of any cocktail. 101 fits the profile perfectly.” As far as his favorite way to whiskey? “I only drink Rare Breed neat or with an ice cube. This Bourbon is at perfection so I don’t want to change it. But my favorite cocktail is a Boulevardier. I love the balance of the bitter and sweet.”
The sweet and minty flavors of a Julep benefit from a quality bourbon like Wild Turkey. Photo courtesy of Wild Turkey.
We’ve chosen some of our favorite classic cocktails and paired them with Wild Turkey’s unparalleled line of whiskeys. So whether you like your brown water neat, straight up, or expertly mixed into a craft cocktail, Wild Turkey (and Eddie Russell) have got your back.
- 2 oz. Wild Turkey 101
- ¼ oz. simple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Directions: Stir together ingredients. Pour over ice into rocks glass and garnish with orange peel.
- 2 oz. Wild Turkey Bourbon
- ¾ oz. simple syrup
- ¾ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 egg white
- 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
Directions: Add first four ingredients to shaker and shake without ice to emulsify. Then add ice and shake again. Strain into coupe glass and top off with dash of bitters.
- 2 ½ oz. Wild Turkey Bourbon
- ½ oz. simple syrup
- 12 mint leaves
Directions: Add mint leaves to double rocks glass and muddle. Fill glass with crushed ice and pour in remaining ingredients. Mix and garnish with mint sprig.
- 1 ½ oz. Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve 10 Year
- ¾ oz. sweet vermouth
- ¾ oz. Campari
Directions: Add all ingredients into mixing glass. Stir, and strain over ice into rocks glass. Garnish with a cherry.
- 2 oz. Wild Turkey Rye
- 1 oz. sweet vermouth
- Dash Angostura Bitters
Directions: Mix all ingredients with ice. Strain into coupe glass and garnish with a cherry.