How to Serve Bourbon


Whiskey is a distilled beverage with alcohol content. It is composed of fermented mash filled with grains. Because there are so many grains that can be turned into alcoholic beverages, whiskey branches out to various types of drinks. Bourbon is one of its most popular varieties. It is made of corn.

Alcoholic drinks, even the most basic ones, have some rules in order to enhance the whole experience. For example, beer is a type of drink that is so common yet has several standards to maintain. It should be contained in the right beer glass and stored in a beer cooler to achieve the best taste. What more with high-class drinks such as bourbon?

In order to know how to serve bourbon correctly, we have to discuss the right glass, food, and storage for this drink. There is no point in knowing how to serve bourbon without giving importance to the quality of the drink itself. So, let’s take a look first on how to contain bourbon:

Right Glassware for Bourbon

There are five common types of glassware for drinking bourbon. Each one has a certain purpose of meeting the preferences of different people.

  • Neat Glass

    Using a neat glass can contribute to a good conversation and a unique experience in drinking bourbon. Why? The glass has a rare look. But, its creative shape has a purpose. It enhances the smell of bourbon. Regarding the taste though, it does not change much. However, people who love to smell their drinks can really enjoy from this glass.

  • Rocks Glass

    Some people love their bourbon icy. So, rocks glass is the right one for them. It is also perfect for cocktails. If you are a slow drinker, this glass can be your buddy.

  • Shot Glass

    This glass does not do much for the real aroma and taste of bourbon. But, it enhances the alcohol’s smell and punch. For a quick drink and sudden burning sensation, take a shot with this.

  • Wine Glass

    Obviously, a wine glass is not only good for one specific drink. It enhances the bourbon’s smell but only for a little bit, just enough for you to enjoy it without being overwhelmed. It lets the bourbon stay longer on your tongue. So, if you love bourbon so much, the wine glass is definitely one of the top two choices.

  • Glencairn Glass

    This glass is considered by critics to be the best for bourbon. It looks like a tulip which, again, serves a certain purpose. It enhances the smell of bourbon but not too strong compared to the neat glass. Glencairn glass allows the person to smell the bourbon while drinking it. Because of that, the flavor is enhanced as well. Another good thing about this glass is its heavier weight compared to smaller glasses. A heavier weight means easier handling and swishing of the bourbon.

Right Food for Bourbon

Like wine, the drinking experience is much better when bourbon is paired with a dish, meal or simple food. The drink matches perfectly with anything spicy, smoky or sweet.

  • Southern Dish

    Bourbon was originated in Kentucky, so a lot of southern dishes definitely match with this drink especially those with ham, bacon and other fatty meats. Some dishes even incorporate the drink as one of their ingredients. One example is the Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze, an original recipe from Chef Edward Lee who came from – yes, you guessed it – Kentucky.

  • Nuts

    It is not surprising to pair nuts with an alcoholic drink. But in the case of bourbon, there is a specific explanation. Bourbon has a really strong taste. If you pair it with a mildly flavored food, you will only taste the drink. Meanwhile, nuts have a rich taste. So, if you pair them with bourbon, both the food and drink create a burst of flavors. Peanuts that are spicy and marinated in bourbon can make your night even better.

  • Fruits

    Fruits can add flavors that match well with bourbon. They can make your drinking experience more interesting. The main reason is that fruits have special natural sugars that mix perfectly with bourbon’s taste. The best fruits for bourbon are peaches, plums, figs, apples, cherries, and oranges.

  • Sweet Potato

    This starchy food has a rich, sweet flavor. It simply goes well with bourbon. Some desserts even mix sweet potato and bourbon together such as Anthony Bourdain’s recipe called Candied Sweet Potatoes.

  • Chocolate

    Another food with a rich sweet taste, chocolate naturally pairs with bourbon. Actually, it pairs well with a lot of alcoholic drinks. Any kind of chocolate really – extra dark, semi-sweet, milk, and white – as long as you drink it with the right kind of bourbon. For example, extra dark chocolate is perfect for full-bodied bourbon while milk is for spicy ones.

Right Storage for Bourbon

Easy: Treat it like wine. Bourbon just needs a dark and dry place in low temperature but not as cold as coolers. You can use the basement, wine cellar, pantry or closet. The only difference is that you need to store bourbon upright, not laying it flat like wine bottles. For opened bottles, bourbon can still be stored for years as long as it maintains its color.

How to Serve Bourbon

Finally, we are now going to find out how to serve bourbon. A big part of this was already mentioned earlier, so this will just be a walk in the park for you.

There are four ways on how to serve bourbon: on the rocks, neat, diluted and mixed. On the rocks obviously, means that you can put ice in the drink. Or, you can drink it straight from the bottle. But, enjoy it while it lasts by putting it in a glass. You will also have a better drinking experience by letting it settle inside the glass for a moment. The third one is to add a small amount of water for a more neutral taste. Lastly, you can mix it in cocktails.


Bourbon is a classic alcoholic beverage for both men and women. You can enjoy it at home, in a restaurant or on a bar stool. Whiskey and bourbon can be confusing when mentioned together. Just remember that all bourbons are whiskeys but not all whiskeys are bourbons.