Three Perfect Bourbon Cocktails for Father’s Day

The timing of Father’s Day—right at the starting shot of summer—makes the holiday the perfect moment for cocktails. The weather is warm, the vibe is relaxed, and everybody’s in the mood for something cold, refreshing, and a little bit celebratory. Neat whiskey is great, but times like these call for something a bit more involved.

Many of you will be cooking out for Father’s Day, so we’ve selected three cocktails ideal for the backyard setting.

While waiting for the coals to light

Before dinner, you need something light, lively, and not so strong that it will send you sideways if you drink it on an empty stomach. Enter the whiskey sour. If the last whiskey sour you had was in the 1990s and made with fluorescent sour mix, banish that thought from your mind. Now, make this version from David Wondrich, using a decent but inexpensive bourbon (think Evan Williams or Jim Beam), fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and plenty of ice.

With dinner

Many Father’s Day menus include food cooked over an open fire, so you’ll need something sufficiently flavorful to cut through the smoke and char. Yet I frequently find that straight cocktails like Manhattans or Old Fashioneds don’t actually pair all that well with food – they’re too strong, which can mask the flavor of what you’re eating, and I often want to drink more liquid with dinner than is advisable to consume if that liquid is 40% alcohol. Instead, why not get a little trendy and serve dad a beer cocktail with his surf-and-turf? The Southern 75 from Garden & Gun is a riff on the French 75, except instead of gin and champagne, it pairs IPA with bourbon.

While lingering by the fire pit

After the dishes have been stacked and the grill has gone out, you’re finally free to go boozy and bold. Maker’s Mark suggests an extra-rich riff on the Old Fashioned that includes maple syrup, Angostura bitters, and bacon-infused Maker’s Mark for that extra savory flavor. Bonus to this recipe? You get to experiment with fat-washing, a nerdy bartender technique that’s easy to recreate at home.

MakersMarkBaconCocktail

Image courtesy of Maker’s Mark

The All-American

Created by Nicole Trzaska of The Liberty Bar NYC

  • 1 ½ parts bacon infused Maker’s Mark bourbon*
  • ¼ part maple syrup
  • 3-4 dashes angostura bitters
  • Strip of cooked bacon for garnish

In a rocks glass, stir bitters and maple, top with bacon infused bourbon. Add ice and garnish with a strip of cooked bacon.

*Bacon infused bourbon

  • 3-4 strips of bacon
  • 750ml bourbon

Cook 3-4 strips of thick bacon, enough to yield 1 ounce of fat (eat the bacon after!). Once bacon fat has cooled to room temperature, pour in to a storage container. Add 750mL bourbon, cover and freeze overnight. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain bourbon in to a new container removing large bits of bacon. Lastly, double strain your bourbon back in to the bottle. Enjoy!

About the author

Margarett Waterbury

Margarett Waterbury is a food and drinks writer based in Portland, Oregon. She's the managing editor of The Whiskey Wash, the managing editor of Edible Portland, and a regular contributor to local and national publications.

  • Spotter_TX

    I’ll give these a try. Thanks Margarett for your very well-considered recommendations for Father’s Day. As much as I enjoy an exotic craft whiskey cocktail out on the town, honestly, it’s far more joyous to savor whiskey cocktails in the comforts of home. My humble aggregation of ingredients will likely never be graced with an unobtanium-based liqueur, shrub or bitters. I do the best with what I have on hand or can easily source. Your recommendations are always very thoughtful and keep availability and affordability in mind. You’re truly a treasure to this industry : )