Jim Beam is a genuine classic. Mention the words bourbon whiskey and it’s the one that will likely come to mind. But whenever one talks about this classic drink, all kinds of questions come up. Do you drink it blended or straight? Should you mix it with cocktails? Is Jim Beam bourbon, whiskey or both?
To answer the last question first, bourbon is whiskey. Bourbon is whiskey made in the US, while scotch is whiskey produced in Scotland. There will be those who’ll disagree, but semantics aside the other question needs to be answered, do you take bourbon straight or blended?
If you want to savor the taste of Jim Beam as is, you can drink it neat or straight. This means the bourbon is sipped without ice and is at room temperature. There are those who prefer to add a little bit of water to allow the scent to come up even more.
You may want to use a brandy snifter if this is how you plan to drink your bourbon. Keep in mind that the glass’ shape has a direct effect on the scent so make sure it’s one for bourbon. Also remember that brandy snifters aren’t always suitable for high proof bourbon.
If you’ve never had bourbon before it might be to take it on the rocks, that is adding some ice cubes to the drink. Pour about 3/4 of an inch – called a finger – in a glass and add some ice. You may also add another finger or so if you like.
Take a bit of time to enjoy the aroma of your bourbon. Absorb the color, the smokiness and whatever flavors are in the drink. Bourbon whiskey isn’t something you gulp down like water. It is something you should enjoy by taking sips. Let the taste settle on your tongue. Experience the fruity or earthy taste depending on the variant or mix.
Blends and Cocktails
Bourbon tastes great as is, but it’s also perfect for cocktails. Whether it’s Manhattan, Old Fashioned or something else, bourbon can be flavorful, strong, mild, simple or sophisticated. Here are some ideas.
The Manhattan is one of the more popular bourbon cocktails as it’s easy to prepare. You just need bourbon, 1 maraschino cherry, a dash of Angostura bitters and an ounce of sweet vermouth plus 2 ounces of bourbon straight. Mix well and your bourbon cocktail is ready.
This is a classic bourbon cocktail and it’s the favorite at the Kentucky Derby for more than a hundred years. Some versions use rye whiskey or rum, but these days bourbon is preferred.
You’ll need powdered sugar, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup distilled water, 2 bunches fresh spearmint and 4 cups of bourbon. These should be good for a dozen servings.
The Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned is created by combining bitters with sugar and whiskey. Throw in the citrus and the cocktail is done.
The recipe calls for 1 maraschino cherry, 1 orange slice, 1 lemon twist, some ice cubes, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon water, a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters and 2 ounces of bourbon.
Combine 3/4 peach liqueur, 1 1/2 bourbon, 2 dashes of peach bitters, 2 pars lemon juice, 1 part peach puree and some simple syrup. Add seltzer and you’ve got a cocktail.
Tips on How to Enjoy Bourbon
It’s tempting to chug down bourbon especially when it’s this good, but that’s not how it’s done. Always take a whiff. Instead of gulping, part your lips, breathe in and exhale at your mouth. This serves two purposes, it brings out the aroma and smooths the heat.
There’s a lot of debate on whether to add ice or sip at room temperature. But there’s no correct temperature as it comes down to personal preferences. But for hot summer days most like their bourbon on the rocks.
If you’ve got chilled bourbon, let it settle and warm so the flavors come out. wood smoke and vanilla usually comes up first, but citrus peel, burnt sugar or the flavors emerge as the drink warms.
You’ll get the most from bourbon by actually savoring the taste. This isn’t some cheap tequila you knock down. Allow the bourbon to coat your tongue for a few moments. In time you’ll discover that your tongue picks up different tastes and nuances.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to try out different drinks. Feel free to enjoy Jim Beam the way you like, sit back and chill.