You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.
Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state.
“It's always smooth, but at 94 proof, it has the backbone to stand out in a cocktail.”—George
“Considering this bottle can usually be found for $30 or less, it's basically the best deal in bourbon. Every year is a different release, but it consistently has some of the most delicious whiskeys I can think of for sipping neat or mixing into a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.”—Joaquín Simó, partner at New York City's Pouring Ribbons
“It’s just a damn good, damn fine American bourbon to drink on special occasions or just because.”—Smith
“Old-Grand Dad Bonded is significantly below the $50 mark, yet I still recommend it for use in just about any craft cocktails that you might be making in the house. At 50 percent ABV, it still has plenty of body to be mixed with everything from absinthe to pineapple juice, without getting lost. Consider this bourbon a great workhorse for mixing drinks.”—Erick Castro, owner and bartender at San Diego's Polite Provisions
“Love the bottle, love the inside. It's all- around good.”—Marran
“Russell's Reserve 10-year-old is the perfect buy, as it works perfectly as a sipper on its own yet still has the backbone and structure to hold its own in a cocktail.”—Castro
“This bourbon has such a great flavor all around. It’s a solid bourbon for cocktails as well.”—Hah
“Steven Beam and his team, while working on aging their own product, have sourced some really quality juice. I don't know if there's a nicer, easier drinking bourbon out there for the money right now.”—George
Mixing your cocktail