5. Make bourbon cocktails.

5. Make bourbon cocktails.

Some folks are under the assumption that you can only have your bourbon neat or on the rocks. This is simply not true. However, you do want to make sure and try your bourbon alone first. This is especially good if you have never tried that product or brand. It does help to learn its profile and determine the best use of the spirit. In some cases, you will want to try it after placing a few small drops of water into the pour. (This can help open up the flavor for some bourbons, essentially allowing it to breathe.) And once you get an idea of what taste it provides, you are ready to experiment with cocktails.

First off, if you are professionally trained to mix drinks, enjoy and embrace your gift. For those of us who are “winging it”, making cocktails will take research and practice. There are trials and failures, so don’t use your most expensive pour on your first attempt. Work up your confidence and become more and more familiar with basics before advancing to the next level.

Start with core bourbon cocktails, like an Old Fashioned, Kentucky Mule, or Whiskey Sour. Then, learn to create a Boulevardier or Manhattan. And don’t forget a Mint Julep to enjoy during Derby season or a Hot Toddy when you are under the weather. With enough practice, you will be able to share bourbon with anyone, neat or mixed!