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Classic Cocktail Recipes: How Top Bartenders Serve Woodford Reserve

  • by: Jeff Seymour, Woodford Reserve Brand Ambassador
  • On: 23, Feb 2021
23 min read

As we look forward to 2021, a sense of optimism and excitement are in the air as our beloved bars and restaurants begin to transform back into their pre-Covid forms.  With diners and patrons returning, bartenders and beverage directors face the challenge of bringing back menus that speak to the masses who have been away for several months.  As we’ve seen across the country, the best way to grab the imbiber’s attention is through a time-honored tradition of drink: The Classic Cocktail.

Classic cocktails began their resurgence in the early aughts for good reason; drinkers had steered away from exuberant cocktail menu descriptions in favor of picking their favorite spirit and calling the drink their own way. This is where we find ourselves once more. Gone are the esoteric ingredients and expensive processes of showmanship behind the bar—familiarity is now the way to a patron’s pallet. 

Within a framework of simplicity surrounding classic cocktail recipes, Woodford Reserve’s full flavor and balance lends itself to an element of quality and sophistication on any cocktail menu. And that's just one of the many reasons why top bartenders across the country use it for some of their staple recipes. Let's take a deep dive into a few of those recipes while exploring just how versatile a spirit Woodford Reserve is.


Old Fashioned-Cocktail-Recipe The Old Fashioned

Spirit, Sugar, Water, Bitters. These four words have been printed on shirts and touted as the basis for cocktail-making in any bartender master class. And these four ingredients are also the foundation of the quintessential Classic Cocktail: The Old Fashioned.

The Old Fashioned is the one of the first-recorded whiskey cocktails, and adding the perfect balance of Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon truly makes this cocktail shine!

Want a simple twist on this time-honored classic?  Substitute Maple syrup for simple and add a couple dashes of Chocolate bitters!  This incorporates a deep caramel and winter spice flavor profile, perfect for this time of year.


2 oz Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Straight Bourbon
.25 oz Simple Syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir and strain over ice
Garnish with an orange twist




Manhattan Cocktail

Closely following the footsteps of the Old Fashioned, The Manhattan Cocktail has become a staple on just about any cocktail menu in America. Traditionally made with rye whiskey, this cocktail dates back nearly 150 years and almost single-handedly resurrected this all-but-lost whiskey expression.  Woodford Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey, with its low rye yield (53%), lends a perfect combination of baking spices, fruit and wood notes to this timeless classic.

One playful variation on the Manhattan is to add dry vermouth and a dash of Orange Bitters.  The vast array of vermouth styles when paired with the spice notes of Woodford Reserve Straight Rye can lend a seasonal twist to any cocktail menu by mixing and matching!


2 oz Woodford Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a bourbon-infused cherry


Whiskey-Sour-Cocktail-RecipeWhiskey Sour

A little departure now from our stirred and whiskey-forward cocktails, we’re going to lean into probably the most refreshing of all classic whiskey cocktails: The Whiskey Sour.  The “Sour” category of cocktails date back to the mid-1800’s when the use of citrus was first introduced to cocktail-making. 

Although sours stretch across all categories of spirits, none are more popular or revered than the Whiskey Sour.  A blend of lemon juice, sugar and whiskey, this cocktail is made even better when served with Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. With sweet, aromatic notes from the extra year it spends in a heavily toasted barrel, this whiskey cocktail recipe is a go-to for top bartenders across the country.

As with the previous classics mentioned above, the many different twists on Whiskey Sour recipes are seemingly endless.  Want to add a little body and depth to your sour?  Incorporate egg white while shaking!  This will give both texture and a beautiful froth.  Honey or maple syrup elevate all the vanilla and sweet aromatic notes in Woodford Reserve Double Oaked for a more complex variation.


1.5 oz Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
.75 Lemon Juice
.5 oz Simple Syrup
Shake all ingredients and strain over ice
Garnish with a lemon twist and bourbon-infused cherry


Woodford Reserve’s commitment to flavor has propelled it to becoming one of the best-selling American Whiskey brands. This same commitment to flavor has also made it the go-to whiskey for top bartenders everywhere, and nowhere is the versatility and flavor profiles of each expression more on display than in these classic cocktail recipes.  Whether you’re sticking to the original recipe or putting your unique twist on these popular, timeless classics, Woodford Reserve brings balance and sophistication to every sip!






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