The Best Bourbon Cocktails To Pair With Steak, According To A Bourbon Steward

You might instinctively match steak with wine but a rich, oaky bourbon can go beautifully with the robustly flavored beef, elegantly elevating its savory, meaty taste. You don't have to take whiskey neat, though. Instead, try it mixed into a cocktail, which can bring a whole new depth and range of flavors to the pairing. If you're unsure what sort of cocktails might work best, Food Republic asked whiskey expert Chris Blatner (urbanbourbonist), an Executive Bourbon Steward based in Chicago, for some advice and suggestions.

While there are certain bourbon brands that go especially well with steak according to Blatner, the spirit is even more of a good match for meat when diluted in cocktails rather than served on its own. "I much prefer pairing bourbon cocktails with steak because a cocktail brings additional flavors and the other ingredients help to lower the overall alcohol content so that everything works better in harmony," he explained.

In terms of flavor profiles, Blatner likes to go for whiskey cocktails that incorporate fresh citrus when matching them with a steak dinner. "I really enjoy a gold rush or a whiskey sour (very, very similar cocktails) with steak," he stated. A whiskey sour is traditionally made with whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, and egg white — while a more modern gold rush cocktail switches out the egg white and adds in honey syrup.

Add citrus to bourbon cocktails to balance the rich flavor of steak

Expert Chris Blatner's choice of lemon lends a brighter, sharper note to the bourbon's sweet caramel- and vanilla-rich notes within the cocktail itself. But it also enhances the steak, too. "I like a cocktail with some citrus in it when pairing with steak because the acidity helps to balance the rich meaty flavors," he told Food Republic. Not only does the citrus cut through the fattiness of beef, but lemon also makes steak scientifically more delicious as it readies our taste buds to enjoy the umami-rich taste.

The cocktail add-ins also elevate the experience. The frothy egg white in a whiskey sour brings lightness to contrast with the heavier meat — while the honey syrup in a gold rush gives the drink a smoother, mellower quality that won't overpower a steak. Try Blatner's lemony picks with steaks such as top sirloin, top sirloin filet, hanger, or flank steak.

If you're looking for more bourbon cocktails to pair with steak, an old fashioned is a classic choice — especially with a twist of orange zest for that citrusy boost. It's a drink where the bourbon is the star, and its big bold flavors pair well with fattier cuts such as ribeye or prime rib as well as sharing steaks such as a tomahawk or porterhouse. Or try a similarly simple Manhattan, but swap the rye for bourbon; the complex herbal depth from sweet vermouth along with fruity and bitter notes will complement pretty much any juicy steak.