The Sweet Bourbon Mixer You Probably Drank As A Child

While bourbon can certainly be enjoyed on its own (or with either a drop of water or some ice to really open up its flavors), it's also delicious when paired with a mixer — though some work better than others. We've recently rounded up a selection of the 12 best mixers for your bourbon according to the experts to take the guesswork out. In addition to popular mixers such as Coca-Cola, ginger beer, and ginger ale is something that you probably drank quite a bit of as a child: apple juice.

Besides the nostalgia factor of using apple juice as a mixer in a grown-up cocktail, the tart sweetness of apple juice (and apple cider) and the rich smokiness of bourbon just go so well together. It's not too surprising, since apples and bourbon pair really well with similar flavors, such as cinnamon, vanilla, and caramel. Served over ice in a cocktail glass or as an apple hot toddy, it's a pairing that works well year-round.

Tips and tricks to mixing apple juice with bourbon

When making apple juice bourbon cocktails, it's important to use a decent bourbon. While this isn't the time to break out that hard-to-find and expensive bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 23, it's also not the time to go cheap, either. Pick a solid bourbon that you would enjoy drinking. For some ideas, check out our list of the nine best bourbons to pair with apple cider.

As for the apple juice, fresh is the best if you can swing it. If not, pick something from the chilled section of the grocery store rather than a processed and sugary shelf-stable option. Apple cider is also a good choice and will add extra depth of flavor and complexity — opt for a cold-pressed one without added sugar if possible. To lighten up the cocktail, you can top it off with some sparkling water, or use a sparkling apple cider. 

For a boozier take, try adding hard apple cider or an apple-flavored hard seltzer. You can also turn your bourbon apple cocktail into a sour by adding some lemon juice and a sweetener like honey, agave, or maple syrup. For a spicy kick, try adding some fresh ginger or a bit of ginger beer. Garnish with some sliced apples and a cinnamon stick and you've got yourself the perfect nostalgic bourbon cocktail to sip and savor any time of the year.