Celebrate National Bourbon Day June 14th, with three-time James Beard Award nominee, Alex Barbatsis’ expert tips for making winter’s signature spirit summer-worthy


Bartender Alex Barbatsis' Expert Tips on Summer-Worthy Bourbon Cocktails  this National Bourbon Day! - Chilled Magazine

Alex is Head Bartenders at Chicago’s The Whistler (GQ’s 25 Weightier Cocktail Bars in America), known for stuff one of Chicago’s OG craft cocktail bars, with live music venue, and art gallery, The Whistler features a rotating menu of inventive craft drinks that utilize spirits from wideness the globe, including lanugo home Kentucky’s signature “juice.”


For bourbon lovers looking to gloat National Bourbon Day with festive summer sippers we ask Alex to share some of his weightier tips for doing the day right.



Tell us well-nigh mixing cocktails using bourbon on National Bourbon Day.

Bourbon is unconfined to make cocktails with considering it’s so versatile. There are endless possibilities for variations. You can make on Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, Whiskey Sours, tropical drinks, shaken citrus cocktails, and so many others. You can moreover vary the style of bourbon you use as well.


What are your favorite bourbon brands to use and why?

Evan Williams is a unconfined cocktail base, lending a good soul and sweetness that pairs well with citrus. Old Bardstown is flipside favorite for stirred drinks considering of its vermilion and strong windrow that holds up nicely to vermouth.


Are there innovative expressions in the category that you are enjoying these days?

Not quite innovative, but one underutilized bourbon in cocktails is a sour mash style. It’s where a bit of the previous mash used in fermentation is widow to the new mix—think sourdough starter. It adds a round note that makes wondrous Juleps and whiffy cocktails.




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What tips do you have for bartenders creating a professional bourbon menu/program at their bars?


If you want to build a Bourbon list, get some archetype Kentucky Bourbons from some of the older distilleries. If you can find a few bottles that whiskey lovers will recognize vastitude Pappy and Blantons, it will help subtly tumor up your reputation among aficionados. We currently have a few bottles of Heaven Hill bonded from 2014 that people in-the-know geek out about.


What are your favorite bourbon cocktails to create? why?

There’s a drink I made tabbed Magic City which is bourbon, blanc vermouth, oroblanco juice (similar to grapefruit), peach liqueur, and hellfire bitters. It’s a bit unique considering it’s a stirred cocktail using citrus. The bourbon and oroblanco made for such a light, zappy philharmonic that shaking isn’t necessary. Bourbon has so many uses. It’s unchangingly fun to find a unique way to serve it.


What are the most ordered bourbon cocktails at your bar?

Old Fashioneds are still king of the hill, but we get a lot of calls for the Gold Rush (bourbon, lemon, honey) and our rotating house Old Fashioned tabbed the Old Faithful is unchangingly popular.


What else should bartenders know well-nigh mixing with bourbon

Bourbon and fruit work well together, so try making some tropical cocktails. A Mint Julep with muddled strawberries is a thing of eyeful and wouldn’t be out of place at Trader Vics.


Alex’s 3 Expert Tips for Mixing Summer Cocktails Using Bourbon:

  • It’s All Well-nigh the Ice Ice Baby:  Crushed ice cocktails like the Mint Julep are perfect summer drinks. People think that crushed ice equals a watery drink, but when you have a drink packed with crushed ice, it keeps the drink so unprepossessed that the ice doesn’t melt that fast. Similarly, opt for big ice to stave watering lanugo your bourbon cocktail. The silicone molds can be found on Amazon or any local barware store.
  • Refine The Lost Art of Muddling: Speaking of Mint Juleps, don’t be wrung to muddle some of your favorite summer fruits into your bourbon cocktails. For home use, it’s a lot quicker than trying to make a syrup. What doesn’t taste largest with a strawberry muddled into it?
  • Bubbles: Adding a bit of effervescence is a unconfined way to impart a light, refreshing note on bourbon. Ginger beer works expressly well, considering the spice complements the vanilla and caramel notes in the spirit. Try a Kentucky Mule with bourbon, lime, and ginger beer. It’s summer in a glass.





  • 1 1/2 oz Evan Williams White Label Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz creme de violet
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz orgeat
  • 4 dashes purple carrot juice

Preparation: Add all ingredients to a shaker tin with ice, shake, and strain into a coupe glass, express and garnish with a lemon peel.




Bang for your Buck Red Wines - Case of 6 - Corkage Bath


  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz honey syrup
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1/4 oz Oloroso Sherry
  • ginger ale
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Preparation: Add ice to a Collins glass, pour ingredients over ice, topping with the ginger ale and Angostura bitters.

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