The Bourbon Rooster Cocktail Recipe

The Bourbon Rooster Cocktail Recipe

When it comes to cocktails that combine the robust warmth of bourbon with a touch of sweet and sour, the Bourbon Rooster takes the spotlight.

This inventive libation marries the rich complexities of bourbon with the vibrant zing of citrus and the delicate sweetness of honey, resulting in a concoction that's both comforting and invigorating. 

How to Make a Bourbon Rooster Cocktail 


To craft a Bourbon Rooster cocktail, gather the following ingredients:

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz Honey Syrup (1:1 honey and water)
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Lemon Twist (for garnish)
  • Ice Cubes


Follow these steps to create your own sophisticated Bourbon Rooster cocktail:

  1. Prepare the Glass: Choose a rocks glass and fill it with ice cubes. This will chill the glass and ensure your cocktail stays refreshing from the first sip to the last.
  2. Measure and Pour Bourbon: Pour 2 oz of your chosen bourbon into the glass. The bourbon serves as the foundation of the cocktail, contributing depth and character.
  3. Squeeze Fresh Lemon Juice: Using a citrus juicer, extract 3/4 oz of freshly squeezed lemon juice. The lemon juice adds a vibrant and tangy element that balances the sweetness of the honey.
  4. Create Honey Syrup: In a separate container, mix equal parts honey and water to create honey syrup. Add 1/2 oz of honey syrup to the cocktail. The honey syrup imparts a nuanced sweetness that marries well with bourbon.
  5. Add a Dash of Bitters: Enhance the complexity of your Bourbon Rooster by adding a dash of Angostura bitters. The bitters introduce subtle aromatic notes that enhance the overall flavor profile.
  6. Stir Gently: Give the ingredients in the glass a gentle stir to ensure they are well combined. Stirring also slightly dilutes the cocktail and chills it further.
  7. Garnish with Lemon Twist: Express your creativity by garnishing the cocktail with a lemon twist. This adds a touch of visual elegance and an inviting citrus aroma.
  8. Raise Your Glass: Your Bourbon Rooster cocktail is ready to be savored. Lift your glass, enjoy the moment, and take a sip of the balanced and nuanced flavors that await you.

Making Honey Syrup

 Making the perfect honey syrup is a breeze, and it adds a delightful touch of natural sweetness to your favorite cocktails. Here’s how you can create it:


Honey: Choose a good-quality honey that you enjoy. The flavor of the honey will directly impact your syrup.

Water: Use filtered or distilled water to avoid any impurities.


  1. In a saucepan, combine equal parts honey and water. For example, 1 cup of honey to 1 cup of water (1:1 ratio).
  2. Heat the mixture over low to medium heat, stirring gently until the honey fully dissolves into the water.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature.
  4. Transfer the honey syrup to a glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
  5. Store it in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Pro Tip 

If you prefer a richer syrup, you can adjust the ratio to 2 parts honey to 1 part water (2:1).

This variation, known as “rich honey syrup,” works wonderfully in cocktails, mocktails, and even drizzled over desserts. Enjoy the natural sweetness of honey in your drinks!

Variations on the Bourbon Rooster Cocktail 

While the classic recipe is already charming, there are some interesting variations you can explore:

Kentucky Mule Rooster

Swap out the vodka in the original Rooster cocktail for bourbon. This variation, known as the Kentucky Mule Rooster, maintains the ginger beer base but adds the rich flavor of bourbon. Perfect for those who love a little Southern twist on a classic cocktail.

Gin-Gin Rooster

For a gin lover’s twist, try the Gin-Gin Rooster. Replace the bourbon with gin, and let the botanicals play alongside the sarsaparilla and cinnamon schnapps. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint for an extra layer of flavor.

Dark & Stormy Rooster

If you enjoy dark rum, the Dark & Stormy Rooster is for you. Swap bourbon for dark rum (such as Goslings Black Seal), and let the spicy ginger beer complement the rich molasses notes of the rum. A slice of lime adds brightness to this variation.

Root Beer Rooster

Instead of sarsaparilla, use root beer to create a Root Beer Rooster. The familiar flavors of root beer pair beautifully with bourbon and cinnamon schnapps. Serve it over ice with a cinnamon stick for extra flair.

Cream Soda Rooster

For a sweeter twist, try the Cream Soda Rooster. Use cream soda as the base, and let its vanilla and caramel notes enhance the bourbon and cinnamon schnapps. It’s like a nostalgic float with a kick!

Remember, the Rooster Whiskey Cocktail is all about embracing that old-West saloon feel while sipping on a flavorful blend. Choose your favorite variation and raise your glass to Rooster Cogburn!

The Origins of the Bourbon Rooster

The Rooster Whiskey Cocktail, a delightful and charming drink, has an interesting backstory. 

Inspiration from “True Grit”

The Rooster Whiskey Cocktail was created by mixologists at Wild Turkey Bourbon in honor of the remake release of the movie “True Grit” in 2012.

The film, based on Charles Portis’s novel, features the iconic character Rooster Cogburn, a rugged U.S. Marshal portrayed by actors like John Wayne and Jeff Bridges. The drink captures the old Western saloon feel, combining bold bourbon with the nostalgic flavor of sarsaparilla.

Sarsaparilla and Nostalgia

Sarsaparilla, a classic root beer-like soda, adds a touch of nostalgia to the cocktail.

Consider trying different sarsaparilla brands—some smaller companies specialize in old-timey soft drinks, each offering a unique taste. The Rooster Whiskey Cocktail is reminiscent of the Wild West, where dusty trails, saloons, and rugged characters roamed.


The Bourbon Rooster cocktail captures the essence of bourbon's warmth and complexity, elevated by the interplay of citrus and honey. It's a testament to the art of mixology, offering a sophisticated blend of flavors that appeals to both the seasoned bourbon enthusiast and the curious cocktail explorer. 

As you sip a Bourbon Rooster, you're immersing yourself in a harmonious marriage of ingredients, experiencing the alchemy that occurs when carefully chosen elements unite to create a drink that's as refined as it is delightful.

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