Bourbon For Beginners: The Best Ways to Drink Bourbon

Did you know that whiskey and bourbon are becoming increasingly popular among Millennials? This is good news for craft distillers who are trying to appeal to a younger demographic, but it’s even better if you’re interested in trying bourbon for the first time. This rising trend means that more restaurants and bourbon bars are coming up with unique pairings and innovative ways to drink this type of spirit. Nowadays there are more than 1,500 distilleries trying to win you over across the nation.

Are you trying bourbon for the first time? Here’s how you should drink this American-aged spirit.


If you’re a purist, this is the only way you can appreciate your alcohol. Drinking a beverage “neat” means that it’s served to you at room temperature straight with no ice and no additives. This will give you the purest appreciation for the liquor since there are no other elements getting in the way of its rich, aromatic flavor.

Some bourbon bars might include a few drops of water. This doesn’t dilute the overall flavor of the bourbon; the water actually opens up the aromas, making it even better for whiskey enthusiasts. Be sure to inhale this scent deeply to try to identify the rich, smoky flavors.

On the rocks

If you can’t stand your alcohol served at room temperature, the second-best way to indulge in bourbon is by pouring it over ice. This will dilute some of the stronger flavors of the whiskey, but it will also make it a more enjoyable drinking experience. If you’re a first-time whiskey drinker, this is probably the best way to try bourbon for the first time. Take a small sip after inhaling some of the scents. Keep in mind that straight bourbon isn’t meant to be chugged like a cocktail. Instead, this beverage is meant to be savored.


The Manhattan is one of bourbon’s quintessential cocktails. Made with delicious bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters, this craft cocktail is a staple at any bourbon bar. Typically served in a martini glass, you’ll get a fanciful experience indulging in this multifaceted cocktail.

Mint julep

There’s a reason why the mint julep is the Kentucky Derby’s cocktail of choice: this aromatic cocktail pays homage to bourbon’s rustic Kentucky roots with a simple concoction almost everyone can enjoy. Made from bourbon, spearmint, water, and sugar, this cocktail is light on the palate but packs an unexpected punch.

With friends

No matter how you drink your bourbon, the best way to do it is with friends. When you’re ready to try bourbon for the first time, gather a crowd and head down to the best bourbon bar Nashville has to offer: Stock and Barrel.