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The 5 Best Substitutes for Bourbon for Cooking

Do you ever find yourself perusing the liquor store shelves, looking for that perfect bottle of Bourbon to add to your collection?

Well, if you’re like me, you might be wondering how to cook with Bourbon.

While some might say that the best way to enjoy Bourbon is straight up, I believe that cooking with Bourbon can add a whole new dimension to your favorite recipes.

Here are a few tips on how to cook with Bourbon, as well as some substitutes for Bourbon in case you can’t find your favorite brand.

What’s Bourbon?

Bourbon is a type of American whiskey that is made from a mash of at least 51% corn.

The rest of the mash can be made up of any combination of wheat, rye, and barley.

The whiskey is then aged in new, charred oak barrels for at least two years.

Bourbon has a deep amber color and a rich, sweet flavor with notes of vanilla and caramel.

It can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or mixed in cocktails.

Bourbon is a great addition to classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan.

It can also be used in recipes in place of other types of alcohol, like wine or beer.

So next time you’re looking for something different to drink, try Bourbon.

You might just find your new favorite spirit.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Bourbon for Cooking

If you don’t keep Bourbon on hand, you can use one of these five substitutes for Bourbon in your cooking.

1 – Brandy

If you’re a fan of Bourbon but looking to mix things up, why not give Brandy a try? Although the two spirits have different origins, they share many similarities in terms of taste and appearance.

Brandy is made by distilling wine, which gives it a fruity flavor with notes of oak.

It is also typically aged in wooden barrels, which adds to its complex flavor profile.

When substituting Brandy for Bourbon in cocktails, it’s important to keep the ratio of spirits to mixers in mind.

Because Brandy is more potent than Bourbon, you’ll want to use less of it in your drink.

But because it also has a sweeter flavor, you may need to adjust the number of mixers as well.

With a little trial and error, you’re sure to find the perfect Brandy-based cocktail to suit your taste.

2 – Rum

Rum is made from sugarcane and has a sweet, slightly tropical flavor.

It is often used in cocktails that also include fruit juice or other sweet ingredients.

While rum can be enjoyed on its own, it is also a popular mixer.

Substituting rum for Bourbon in a cocktail can add a unique twist to the flavor.

When substituting rum for Bourbon, it is important to keep the ratio of rum to other ingredients the same as the ratio of Bourbon to other ingredients.

This will help to ensure that the flavor of the cocktail is not too sweet or overpowering.

Experimenting with different rums can be a great way to add new flavors to your favorite cocktails.

3 – Scotch Whisky

Scotch whisky is a smooth, rich spirit with a distinctively peaty flavor.

It is made from malted barley and aged in oak casks, which imparts a deep amber color and complex flavor profile.

Scotch whisky is typically enjoyed neat or on the rocks, but it can also be used as a substitute for Bourbon in cocktails.

When substituting scotch for Bourbon, it is important to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Look for a scotch with a similar flavor profile to the Bourbon you are substituting. If you want a sweeter cocktail, choose a scotch with a hint of honey; for a smokier drink, opt for a peaty scotch.
  • Use club soda or seltzer instead of water to avoid diluting the scotch too much.
  • Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten up the flavors.

4 – Cognac

Cognac is a type of brandy that originates from the Cognac region of France.

It is made from white grapes that are fermented and then distilled.

Cognac has a distinctively smooth, rich taste that is often enjoyed neat or on the rocks.

It can also be used as a substitute for Bourbon in cocktails such as the Old Fashioned or the Manhattan.

When substituting Cognac for Bourbon, it is important to keep the proportions the same, as Bourbon is a much heavier drink.

This will ensure that your cocktail retains its balance and flavor.

With its smooth taste and versatility, cognac is a great choice for any occasion.

5 – Apple Cider Vinegar + Brown Sugar

Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made from apple cider that has undergone fermentation to become alcoholic, and then bacteria have been added to turn the alcohol into acetic acid.

It’s used in salad dressings, as a preservative, and for its sour flavor.

In comparison, brown sugar is a type of sugar that’s been molasses.

It’s often used in baking or as a sweetener.

The combination of the two flavors is not something you would expect to be delicious, but it is.

The slight tartness of the apple cider vinegar is offset by the sweetness of the brown sugar, and the result is a delicious syrup that can be used in cocktails or as a glaze on meats.

The cooked-down mixture also makes an excellent bourbon substitute in cooking.

So, if you’re looking for something new to try, give this combination a go.

You might just be surprised by how good it is.


In conclusion, Bourbon can be substituted with a number of different liquors depending on your preference.

Some great substitutes include rum, scotch whisky, cognac, and apple cider vinegar + brown sugar.

Each of these options will add a unique twist to your favorite cocktail.

So, don’t be afraid to experiment and find the perfect combination for you.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Bourbon for Cooking

The 5 Best Substitutes for Bourbon for Cooking
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Brandy
  • Rum
  • Scotch Whisky
  • Cognac
  • Apple Cider Vinegar + Brown Sugar


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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