Jim Beam is the drink of the South and has an extraordinary history as far back as the late 1700s. Jim beam has a smokiness and sweetness that is hard to resist and pairs beautifully in a variety of cocktails. Although there are multiple modern spins on bourbon-based cocktails, I still believe the old-time classics are the best of the best.
The most iconic cocktails with Jim Beam (in my opinion!) include:
- The Jim Beam Old fashioned
- Jim Beam Whisky Sour
- Jim Beam Manhattan
- The Mint Julep
There has to be a reason that a cocktail recipe can last hundreds of years; chances are it's because they are fantastic. If you would like to explore the possibilities of new cocktails with Jim Beam as your base ingredient, best you start at the icons listed below.
Why Jim Beam Makes a Great Cocktail Ingredient
Jim Beam has an impressive history and has been around since 1795, with gaps during the turbulent times of prohibition. Like all American bourbons, Jim beam is made from at least 51% corn and aged in charred white oak barrels for no less than two years.
Jim beam's distinctive sweet and smokey taste makes it an excellent choice in cocktails, and it pairs up nicely with citrus and spice. Bourbon is a drink associated with the South, and many iconic cocktails reflect the area's history and its people.
Here are my top picks for the best Jim Beam-based cocktails for you to try.
Jim Beam Old Fashioned
The Old fashioned is the granddaddy of the modern cocktail where historians have found this recipe as far back as 1806. When blended cocktails became popular in the 1860s, drinkers who wanted a more simple drink began asking for the 'old-fashioned' cocktail, where the name stuck.
Although many institutions claimed they created the cocktail, extensive records of the drink in the 1800s refute their fame claim. This cocktail is a strong but sweet drink, the smoke of the bourbon pairs beautifully with the orange, cherry, and sugar.
- 2 Us fl oz (60ml) Jim Beam Bourbon
- I cube of sugar
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitter
- A dash of Club Soda
- Orange slice
- Maraschino Cherry
Although making the Old Fashioned sounds simple, I know some mixologists who make the process an art form. Some spend up to 20 minutes in preparation time, which is far too long for me to wait for my drink!
Take a rocks glass and throw in a cube of sugar—splash two dashes of Angostura over your sugar to moisten it and a small splash of soda. Take a muddler and crush the sugar cube well, taking care to line the sides of the glass with the sugar coating.
Place a large ice cube in the center of the glass and pour your bourbon; give a small stir and drop in your garnish. Your drink is ready to serve.
Jim Beam Whisky Sour
There's something delicious about the smokiness of bourbon and the sour tang of a lemon when sweetened. This drink is recorded from the mid-1800s, but the British Navy used an earlier version long before that time.
With questionable water sources, the seamen would drink the mix of whisky and lemons and limes to combat scurvy.
There are warring mixology schools regarding the use of egg white, but I feel it's a great addition to the cocktail. It gives a creaminess to the drink, and it's great to watch the drink settle gently down to clarity.
- 2 US fl oz (60ml) Jim Beam
- 1 Us fl oz (30ml)Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¾ US fl oz (21ml) Simple syrup
- Orange peel
- Maraschino cherry
- 1 Egg white (optional)
- A small dash of Angostura Bitters
Place your egg white, lemon juice, and egg white in the bottom of your shaker and swirl for a bit. This process lets the egg react to the citrus and gives a better froth in the shaking. Place your ice in the shaker and shake vigorously for a minute or so; it's essential you shake enough to make your egg white and creamy.
Pour into a rocks glass half-filled with ice and garnish with an orange slice and cherry. As a last touch, put a dash of bitters across the foam on the top of your Sours.
Jim Beam Manhattan
Legend suggests that the Manhattan arose at the Manhattan Club, New York, in the mid-1870s, and the drink has gone on from strength to strength. The sweet fragrant vermouth and the smokiness of the bourbon pair beautifully with the spicy Angostura notes.
- 2 US fl oz (60ml) JimBeam
- 1 US fl oz (30ml) Sweet Vermouth
- Dash of Angostura Bitters
- Maraschino cherries
Pace all your wet ingredients in a cocktail mixing glass, stir well, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe glass. Drop in the cherry and serve ice cold.
The Mint Julep is closely associated with Kentucky and notably the Kentucky Derby. This refreshing and fresh drink was crazily once a medicinal prescription in the late 1700s for stomach sickness! It moved from medicinal to being center stage at southern gatherings of all kinds.
Although many different factions fight out the 'correct' and authentic way to make this minty marvel, luckily, the ingredients are always the same. Originally the shrink was served in a pewter or silver goblet, held carefully by its top or bottom rim to keep the drink nice and frosty.
Today, it's primarily served in a Collins or highball glass.
- 21/2 US fl oz (about 75mls) Jim Beam Bourbon
- ½ US fl oz (15ml) Simple Syrup
- 5-8 Mint Leaves (Preferably Spearmint)
- Finely Crushed ice
Although some experts disagree, one should never muddle one's mint too vigorously. There is nothing worse than having mint pieces in your teeth, and the brute force brings out the bitterness in the mint.
Give your mint a good slap in your palms to open up their aromatic oils and place them in your pewter goblet or Collins glass. Add your simple syrup and gently muddle your mint without crushing or tearing the leaves. Top with crushed ice and pour your Jim Beam into the ice. Stir and serve.
When you taste a sip of Jim Beam, you are taking a sip of the history of Kentucky and the South. Some of the most famous cocktails in the world are perfect for Jim Beam as their key ingredient. These tried and tested cocktails will never fail to impress.