These handcrafted bourbons will blow your socks off.

“Bar travel” is the age-old idea that sipping a well-crafted cocktail will transport you (back in time) to a fond childhood memory like a family road-trip across America to visit the Grand Canyon or a summertime backpacking excursion across Europe. For me, no single spirit teleports faster than a simple glass of fine handcrafted bourbon like Bookers, Buffalo Trace or Templeton.

Caramel. Oak. Clove. Citrus. Spice. Whether you prefer your bourbon neat, on the rocks or mixed into a classic Old Fashioned, Sazerac or Manhattan these classic flavors are there for you to sip and savor to your heart’s content. Just ask our panel of experts.

“Currently, patrons are into experimentation and trying to find ‘their’ signature bourbon,” affirms Dave Newman, 40, Owner and Bar Manager at local Honolulu hotspot Pint + Jigger. “For the avid drinker, they want to taste and try something new. Experience a brand they’re not familiar with.”

“Today, there’s so much going on in bourbon that you should feel free to drink it any way you like,” advises Fred Noe, 57, seventh-generation family distiller of Jim Beam. “Don’t get hung up on things like what glass to use, how to serve it and so on. It’s OK to drink bourbon just the way you like it.

I mean you don’t drink bourbon with your enemies. You drink bourbon hanging out with your friends and family and swapping stories. Just don’t be scared to play with it.”

Thirsty? Below we’ve handpicked five fine handcrafted bourbons for you to imbibe. Then, why not stir things up as Newman, along with Chandra Lucariello share their can’t-miss bourbon cocktail recipes. Mix it up with moxie!

1792 RIDGEMONT RESERVE

Originally named for the year that Kentucky made statehood, this eight-year-old reserve bourbon is handcrafted from the finest corn, rye and malted barley. Each bottle is made in small batches, bottled at 93.7 proof and aged in new charred oak barrels. As you’d expect, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve delivers a more complex, full-bodied taste that’s not too sweet. Tasting notes include ballistic, rich rye, apple and custard cream nuances, and a delightful finish of black licorice and robust coffee.

BLANTON’S SINGLE BARREL BOURBON

Once designated only for distinguished ambassadors, dignitaries and Colonel Blanton’s own family and friends, today you can enjoy Blanton’s Original Single Barrel, the world’s first single barrel bourbon. And, taste-be-told, one of its finest. Blanton’s Original sets the standard with a spicy aroma of sweet citrus and complex oak plus just a hint of rich caramel and creamy vanilla.

KNOB CREEK SINGLE BARREL RESERVE

Although most bourbon is blended together from multiple barrels to create consistency, every barrel of Knob Creek Reserve is handpicked by the distiller and bottled individually. Each batch is one-of-a-kind with slight variations in taste, color and aroma based on its final age, rack placement and other proprietary methods passed down for eight generations. Best yet, it’s bottled at a whopping 120 proof so you’ll enjoy more pronounced flavors and a smokier aroma in the finish.

BASIL HAYDEN’S

In 1796, master distiller Basil Hayden Sr. broke with tradition by mixing small grains into the mash of a traditional corn base. He believed that the spicy flavor of rye would be a striking complement to the corn’s sweet smoothness in his distillery’s signature bourbon. He was right. His recipe was a masterpiece, resulting in this namesake bourbon blessed with rich, velvety notes of peppermint, pepper, slight citrus and a spicy, warming finish.

WILLETT POT STILL RESERVE

The Willett family has been making quality, handcrafted bourbon in Kentucky for more than a century. Their Pot Still Reserve is no exception. This exceptional American-made whiskey is very floral on the nose with wonderful citrus notes, lots more citrus on the palate with dollops of raw honey, and finally, an herbal finish.

MUST-SIP COCKTAIL RECIPES

5TH AMENDMENT
Created by Dave Newman (available exclusively at Pint + Jigger)

2 oz Johnny Drum Black Label Bourbon
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz Falernum
Two dashes Hawaii Bitters Mai Tai Bitters

Method: Stir and strain over a large ice cube.
Garnish: Lemon twist

BOULEVARDIER
Submitted by Chandra Lucariello

1 oz Michters Small Batch Whiskey
1 oz Campari
1 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino

Method: Add all ingredients to mixing glass with ice. Stir until well chilled and strain with julep over large ice sphere into bucket.
Garnish: Flamed orange twist