Bars & Pubs

This Spirit Is Making A Come Back, But What Is It?

By Anna Franklyn
1st Jul 2016

Guys, we need to talk about bourbon. In case you weren’t aware, it’s back and it’s back in a big way. So much so that the whole world was a bit worried we were going to run out. Seriously. Google It.

And while we can probably thank Don Draper for the return of this delightful drop, let’s all take a minute to drill this in to our brains: bourbon is not just for the gents, ladies you can (and you should) get involved too.

But do you think bourbon is scary and intimidating and well, you don’t know how to drink it? We hear you! That’s why we’ve teamed up with the good folks at Wild Turkey and GRAIN Bar to show you that bourbon ain’t that scary.

We chatted to GRAIN Bar’s Whisky King Alexandra Dahlenburg who taught us how to order it like an absolute pro.

What the heck is bourbon?

Bourbon is American whisky and strictly needs to be made in America with minimum 51% corn, aged in new American oak barrels. That’s the basics but to geek out, it has to be distilled to no more than 160 proof alcohol, put into the barrel at no more than 125 proof and the bottle at 80 proof or more... And it’s a damn fine spirit whether it’s in cocktails, rocks, mixer or neat—the way I like to drink it, as the master distiller made it.

What makes a good bourbon?

It comes down to your personal taste and your experience with bourbon. But the diversity in different bourbons means there is a bourbon out there to suit everyone.

For me, I like my bourbon with a strong vanilla and caramel flavour profile with a bit of heat and age to it. Makes you feel alive! To find ‘your’ good bourbon we encourage tasting as many as you can until you find the perfect match.

For the bourbon newbies, what’s the safest bourbon cocktail to go for?

Bourbon newbies should start with the classics—a Manhattan, Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour. Dating back to 1870s and 1880s, these cocktails give you an insight into the history of bourbon. Bourbon is a versatile spirit that can be put with both sweet profiles and sour profiles.

And for the more adventurous, how do you order bourbon like a pro?

I recommend drinking at bar that really knows its whisky. Ask your bartender what their favourite bourbon is, or go for a whisky flight, like we offer at Grain—4 15ml whiskies for $40 every day, and $30 on Whisky Mondays—so you can try and compare different types. Personally, I like my bourbon neat with a beer chaser (boilermaker).

Now that we’ve got a drink, what should we eat with it?

At Grain our food is made for drinking whisky—smokey meats plates, brisket sandwiches and our wagyu minute steak with bourbon butter. We also use Wild Turkey bourbon in our maple bourbon custard-filled cronuts.

Okay, we’re sold, bourbon rocks... Give us a recipe!

Try our new cocktail, The Smoking Turkey


  • 45ml Wild Turkey
  • 15ml pomme verte
  • 10ml maple syrup
  • 15ml sugar syrup
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 30ml egg white


  1. Reverse shake and strain into a coupette.
  2. Garnish with a smoking cinnamon quill.

Attention all awesome bartenders!

If you reckon you’re a bit of a bourbon connoisseur, visit the Wild Turkey Facebook page for your chance to win the ultimate, money can’t buy Bourbon experience in Kentucky.

Editor's note: This article is proudly sponsored by Wild Turkey and endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy. Drink responsibly.

Image credit: Wild Turkey

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