Skip to main content

Raise a Golden Glass for National Bourbon Heritage Month

national bourbon heritage month
Bourbon may be a French word, but it’s an all-American spirit. Sweet, delicious bourbon tastes the way gold looks, and serves as a trusty companion to, well, just about anything. Since a single day can’t sufficiently honor such a divine spirit, this September is National Bourbon Heritage Month.

This isn’t just some arbitrary celebration manufactured by corporate interests — god, no; rather, it’s an arbitrary month-long holiday manufactured by the U.S. Congress in 2007. The resolution creating the holiday was passed by unanimous consent, proving that our lawmakers are capable of agreeing on something.   

Related Videos
national bourbon heritage month

As with many old and hallowed things, the origin of bourbon is somewhat unclear. Bourbon was likely developed by European settlers of the American frontier (Appalachia) during late 1700s. In a Bourbon Country Reader article, whiskey writer Charles K. Cowdery writes that whiskey-making on the frontier was “as common as baking bread.”

Some claim that a Baptist minister named Elijah Craig made the first Kentucky bourbon in the 1780s, when he opened a distillery in what would become Georgetown, KY. While Craig was a real figure, this is a massaging of the truth perpetuated by anti-temperance folks in the late 19th century (“bourbon can’t be all bad — it was invented by a minister!”).  

Related: The Best Old Fashioned Recipe

Bourbon is named after Kentucky’s Bourbon County, the spirit’s widely accepted birthplace. Bourbon County was so named as a tribute to the French, who lent the U.S. a hand during the American Revolution. The spirit swiftly gained popularity and was eventually sold downriver to New Orleans, where the population embraced it as an inexpensive alternative to Cognac. The rest is sweet, golden history.

In 1964, Congress declared bourbon “America’s Native Spirit” and laid down hard and fast rules for what exactly bourbon is and isn’t. Bourbon must be made with at least 51% corn, stored in charred white oak barrels, distilled at less than 160 proof (80% ABV), and have no artificial flavoring. Today, bourbon accounts for at least two-thirds of all U.S. spirit exports.

We could write about bourbon for days, but we’d rather be drinking it. Without further ado, here are some excellent bourbon drink ideas that you might consider sometime this month (and every month after, until the sun explodes).  

1. The AnytimerThe Anytimer burned


  • 1.3 oz Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. amaretto


Shake ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with an orange and cherry.

2. Gramercy Buck

(Created by Amanda Tissue of the Gramercy Park Hotel, NYC)Gramercy Buck


  • 1.3 oz. Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • .75 oz. simple syrup
  • muddled strawberries
  • ginger beer


Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a highball glass. Top off with ginger beer.

3. Old FashionedOld Fashioned 2


  • 1.3 oz. I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Bar spoon of brown sugar
  • Dash of orange bitters
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters


Combine ingredients in a tumbler, stir. Garnish with orange twist and cherry. 

4. Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 21 Year OldRhetoric 21-Year-Old Bottle Shot burned



Enjoy neat or on the rocks

Editors' Recommendations

Here’s how to make a margarita, according to top bartenders
The only margarita recipes you'll ever need
margarita tequila cocktail lime strainer

The best margaritas do not grow on trees, nor do they show up in a can (although there are some tasty canned drinks these days). No, the tastiest version of the tequila classic is made fresh, with love and care and some wisdom from a couple of top bartenders.

It's a balancing act, for sure, but when it's dialed-in, the margarita is one of the best and most refreshing cocktails ever devised. The classic mix of agave spirit, lime, salt, and a touch of sweetness is great alone or with any number of dishes, especially within Mexican cuisine (the nation where the drink was born).

Read more
Bubbly? Full-bodied and red? Zesty and white? Your favorite wine types, explained
All the primary types of wine (and everything you need to know about them)
Glasses of different kinds of wine

Trying to understand everything about wine all at once is an impossible endeavor. Wine is a beautifully complicated, ever-changing quiddity, and even the most decorated and prestigious wine experts in the world often find themselves confounded by its constant little surprises.
That isn't to say that, if you care to, you shouldn't become educated on the subject of wine. It's a hobby and a passion that's tremendously fun to pursue, and there's much to learn on the matter.
If you find yourself in the beginning stages of your wine education, just as in everything, you'll want to start with the basics. It's possible that up until now, you haven't put much thought into the several different kinds of wine there are, except for, say, red and white. But while there are obviously exceptions within every hard and fast rule, for the most part, wine can be broken down into roughly nine categories. Here we'll take a minute to break those categories down, explain what they mean, which wines fall into them, and, our favorite - how to drink those wines.

Sparkling wine

Read more
10 incredible whiskey decanters (they’re not just for wine)
The best whiskey decanters you can get

Right up there with a Champagne saber or a pair of crystal glasses, a decanter is an elegant tool for the drinks enthusiast. We typically associate them with wine (and for good reason, as they can aerate and open up a tight bottle of red) but they're great for spirits too. In fact, a good whiskey decanter is a host's dream, offering a beautiful way to present and pour your favorite bottle.

You've seen them before, set atop bar carts in old black-and-white movies or on the set of Mad Men. They're a stunning way to dress up your bourbon, rye, or Scotch, and can even make a cheap-to-average bottle seem much more classy. On top of that, they really allow you to enjoy the color and viscosity of whatever it is you're pouring.

Read more