Woodford Reserve Cocktail Recipe

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Woodford Reserve Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Woodford Reserve cocktail, also known as the Woodford Reserve Old Fashioned, is a classic American cocktail that dates back to the 19th century. It is named after the famous Woodford Reserve Distillery in Kentucky, which is known for producing high-quality bourbon. This cocktail is a favorite among whiskey enthusiasts and is often enjoyed during special occasions or as a sophisticated after-dinner drink.

  • The Old Fashioned is considered one of the oldest mixed drinks in the history of cocktails
  • It gained popularity during the Prohibition era, as the strong flavors of the bourbon helped mask the taste of poor-quality alcohol
  • Woodford Reserve is a premium bourbon, making this version of the Old Fashioned a top-shelf choice

How Woodford Reserve Tastes?

The Woodford Reserve cocktail is rich, smooth, and slightly sweet with a hint of bitterness. The flavors of the bourbon are complemented by the sweetness of the sugar and the brightness of the citrus, creating a well-balanced and complex taste profile.

Interesting facts about Woodford Reserve

  • Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby
  • The Woodford Reserve Distillery is a National Historic Landmark
  • The Old Fashioned is often considered the 'original' cocktail, as it follows the basic formula of spirit, sugar, water, and bitters


  • Woodford reserve bourbon: 2 oz(60ml)
  • Simple syrup: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Angostura bitters: 2 dashes
  • Orange peel: 1
  • Maraschino cherry: 1
  • Ice cubes: 4-5

Woodford Reserve Bourbon

The backbone of our concoction, 2 oz of Woodford Reserve brings rich, full-bodied notes of vanilla and oak. Too little, you're in cocktail kindergarten; too much, and you're stealing the spotlight. No bourbon? Try a rye whiskey for a spicier twist.

Mary Mitkina

Simple Syrup

Sweetness in a bottle, this 0.5 oz of simple syrup is like the mediator, ensuring peace between the strong bourbon and the sharp bitters. Skip it, and your drink's as harsh as reality. A hint of maple syrup could substitute if you're feeling Canadian.

Alex Green

Angostura Bitters

Two dashes of this potent potion add depth and complexity—like adding high definition to your drink. Leave it out, and you've got a flat character begging for personality. Want a change? Orange bitters can add a citrusy zing.

Emma Rose

Orange Peel

The flashy garnish isn't just for looks. It's the essential oils that make your Woodford Reserve cocktail pop with citrus top notes—imagine a symphony without violins. Lemon peel could step in, but it sings a different tune.

Mary Mitkina

Maraschino Cherry

This is the cherry on top, quite literally, adding a burst of sweetness and color contrast. Disappear the cherry, and you lose that iconic last bite. A slice of fresh peach could also drop in for a summery take.

Alex Green

Ice Cubes

The unsung heroes, 4-5 ice cubes chill our saga, calming the spirits for a smoother sip. No ice, and you've got a warm, undiluted tale better suited for straight whiskey lovers. Alternatively, a single large cube could make for a slower melt and less dilution.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Woodford Reserve Drink

  1. In a mixing glass, combine the Woodford Reserve Bourbon, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters
  2. Add ice cubes and stir until well chilled
  3. Strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice
  4. Express the orange peel over the cocktail by holding it over the glass and giving it a good twist to release the oils, then drop it into the drink
  5. Garnish with a maraschino cherry

Pro Tips

  • Use large ice cubes to slow down the dilution of the cocktail
  • Express the orange peel directly over the glass to ensure the oils are captured
  • Chill the glass before serving for a better experience

Perfect Pairings

Food Pairings

  • Grilled Steaks: The smoky flavors of a good steak complement the oak and vanilla notes of the Woodford Reserve Bourbon.
  • Bacon Wrapped Dates: The sweetness of the dates and the savory taste of bacon echo the caramel complexity of the bourbon.
  • Dark Chocolate: A piece of rich dark chocolate makes for a decadent pairing, accentuating the profound depth of both the bourbon and the chocolate.

Drink Pairings

  • Coffee: A freshly brewed black coffee can cleanse the palate between sips, enhancing the bourbon's character.
  • Old Ale: A rich, malty old ale with its own spectrum of dark fruit flavors complements the similar flavor profile of the cocktail.

Cheese Pairings

  • Aged Gouda: The caramel notes of aged gouda harmonize with the sweet and spicy profile of the cocktail.
  • Blue Cheese: The strong flavors of blue cheese can stand up to the robustness of the bourbon, creating a delicious contrast.

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What you could change in Woodford Reserve

  • Bourbon: Any high-quality bourbon can be used in place of Woodford Reserve
  • Simple Syrup: Can be replaced with a sugar cube soaked in water
  • Angostura Bitters: Other aromatic bitters can be used

Explore all drinks starting with W here

And of course - twists🍹

Maple Old Fashioned

  • Swap simple syrup with maple syrup for a Canadian-inspired twist that provides a rich, autumnal sweetness.

Woodford Spiced

  • Add a slice of fresh ginger during the stirring process to infuse a zany kick that'll have your taste buds doing the samba.

Smoked Citrus

  • Lightly char the orange peel before expressing it over the drink to add a smoky nuance that’ll make your cocktail smolder with sophistication.

In case you forgot basics how to make Woodford Reserve

The basic composition of simple syrup is relatively straightforward – a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. This mixture is heated until the sugar dissolves, resulting in a clear, sweet syrup.

Learn everything about simple syrup

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Woodford Reserve

What types of glasses can be used for serving the Woodford Reserve cocktail?

While it's traditional to serve the Woodford Reserve cocktail in a rocks glass, other acceptable options include an old-fashioned glass or a tumbler. Each of these types of glassware has a sturdy base to hold the cocktail and the ice cubes while also allowing the drinker to appreciate the color and aroma of the bourbon.

Does the type of ice cube affect the taste of the Woodford Reserve cocktail?

Yes, it does. Larger ice cubes melt more slowly, thus chilling the drink without diluting the bourbon quickly. It also gives a pleasant look to the cocktail.

What's the difference between Woodford Reserve and other bourbons?

Woodford Reserve stands out due to its high rye content, giving it a spicier and more robust flavor compared to other bourbons. It's also known for its rich and full-bodied taste with notes of dried fruit, vanilla, and toasted oak.

Can the Woodford Reserve cocktail be prepared in bulk ahead of time, or does it need to be mixed for each serving?

For the best flavor and freshness, it's recommended to prepare each Woodford Reserve cocktail individually. However, the base of bourbon, simple syrup, and bitters can be mixed in bulk ahead of time and chilled. The garnish should be added right before serving.

Can I replace the maraschino cherry with other fruits as a garnish?

Yes, you can. While the maraschino cherry is traditional, you may also use other fruits like a slice of orange or lemon, or even a cocktail olive. They will give different flavors and add a personal touch to the cocktail.

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