The Best Maker's Mark Cocktails Ranked From Worst To Best

Fans of Kentucky bourbon will have no problems spotting Maker's Mark's signature red wax drip. This bottle, which comes in a square-ish-shaped bottle is known as one of the premier bourbons in the United States. The brand dates back to 1953 when it was purchased by Bill Williams. Williams tinkered with the recipe, and, according to the Maker's Mark website, made a few clever swaps like using red winter wheat instead of the commonly used rye.

The brand frequently makes top 10 lists, and in 2020 was the number two best-selling bourbon in the United States, according to Forbes. There's something to love about the bourbon, which The Whiskey Shelf says is loaded with caramel, cocoa powder, clove, cinnamon, oak, and vanilla. But when blended into a cocktail, Maker's Mark seems to come alive in new ways. There are plenty of bourbon cocktails you can try with Makers' Mark, but we've rounded up the most popular and ranked them from worst to best so you don't have to.

Kentucky Bubbly

When using whiskey in cocktails, it's important to find a good counterpart that packs a lot of flavors but also compliments the spirit. Maker's Mark whiskey has warm and spicy notes with a hint of sweetness to wrap it up in a nice package. Something which is therefore perfect is apple cider (not apple juice). Maker's Mark names apples as a natural pairing for its whiskey. Apple holds a combination of natural sweetness and sour notes. It's a great mix of flavors that makes this fruit so successful and so versatile in cocktails. Sparkling apple cider is already delicious on its own and a great option if you want something bubbly and sweet, but aren't a fan of wine. The slight fizz brings some excitement to the mouthfeel. It is usually served in a champagne flute, garnished with a cocktail cherry.

Pairing Maker's Mark is a Goldilocks and the three bears situation because it is a lighter-style bourbon (read: not bitter or unbalanced). It doesn't have a lot of nutty characteristics like other bourbons and could almost be considered a more neutral bourbon, explains The Whiskey Shelf. So it almost needs to be paired with a slightly more complex set of ingredients, otherwise, it becomes interchangeable with any other bourbon. For that reason, we ranked the Kentucky Bubbly as our least favorite Maker's Mark cocktail.

Bloody Mary

Nothing says brunch like a Bloody Mary. This classic cocktail is a rich combination of tomato juice, vodka, and an array of spices and extras like Worchestershire sauce and pickle juice. But we love Bloody Mary's because the rich, savory notes make it the perfect pairing to food like chicken wings, soft-shelled crab, and sausages, which may very well be served on top of the drink!

The Bloody Mary was invented in Paris in 1921 by a bartender named Fernand Petiot, who was working at a well-known bar called Harry's New York Bar. In the 1920s Paris was a magnet to people from all over the world, which also attracted new ingredients. Americans brought canned tomato juice to Paris, a key ingredient to the Bloody Mary. And the Russians brought vodka. The original Bloody Mary recipe, according to, calls for "poison" aka alcohol. We could speculate that vodka is the spirit of choice in this classic recipe because it's tasteless and odorless.

And that's precisely why Maker's Mark doesn't work. Although it's a bourbon that has a lighter profile than some other bourbons — lighter body, aromas that aren't too potent — something about bourbon in a Bloody Mary just doesn't sit right with us. So we're deeming this an incompatible match. You're more than welcome to try Maker's Mark bourbon in a Bourbon Bloody Mary, but it's something we'll pass on.

Bourbon spritz

The bourbon spritz cocktail has come into fashion for serving as an unexpected twist on the oh-so-popular Aperol spritz. To pull off a bourbon spritz, just take your normal Aperol spritz ingredients — prosecco, Aperol, and a splash of club soda — and add bourbon. It should work. And we want it to. The bourbon spritz sounds like the perfect drink to sip on at a fall brunch with friends. But something about the combination of the heavier, richer bourbon and the lighter ingredients of a typical Aperol spritz, just doesn't sit right with us.

There is an opportunity to rethink this cocktail – perhaps with apple juice instead of Aperol, for example. And with the deep caramel and vanilla notes of Maker's Mark, it would be a perfect opportunity to have an interesting fruity cocktail that isn't just a riff on a classic. But we think the caramel clashes with the Aperol. So instead of merging, the two ingredients are almost competing. The cocktail as Maker's Mark intends it to be, and as it's listed on their recipes page, just isn't cutting it for us.

Mint julep

Mint juleps are easy to spot by the signature silver cup they're served in. It's requisite bar equipment and even though it doesn't technically impact the cocktail's flavor, we like to agree that something about mint juleps just doesn't taste the same in any other container. The now-classic cocktail is an interesting mash-up of flavors, but it's actually quite a simple combination of just bourbon, simple syrup, and fresh mint. It's sweet with a refreshing twist because of the mint leaves.

This cocktail was a hit with President Roosevelt, and it was revered by F. Scott Fitzgerald, as Town & Country Magazine points out. And we love the drink too ... we just don't love it with Maker's Mark. A Mint Julep shouldn't necessarily be overly sweet, but when you use the sweet-leaning Maker's Mark it takes this drink from cool to cloying. If it's the only bourbon you have, you might be able to up the ratio of your other ingredients. But really, just stick to using Maker's Mark for cocktails that have more acidity or savory notes.

Bourbon renewal

The Bourbon Renewal is a modern cocktail that has some old-fashioned flair. It is an instant classic that also happens to be quite classy with its berry notes and playful hue. Cherry is the most obvious fruit pairing for bourbon, so we love that bourbon renewal flips that expectation on its head. We also love that, despite the reddish-purple color the cocktail isn't overly sweet.

Created by Jeffrey Morgenthaler in 2004, as explained on his website, the bourbon renewal is bourbon, lemon juice, creme de cassis, simple syrup, and a dash of bitters. Imbibe Magazine's recipe suggests adding some gomme syrup to help thicken the drink. That suggestion is headed in the right direction for a Maker's Mark-based bourbon renewal, but overall something still doesn't click with this combination. Perhaps it's because of Maker's Mark's spice-heavy, caramel flavor profile that doesn't jive with the creme de cassis. Or maybe it's that the Maker's Mark isn't bold enough to stand up to the other flavors. Either way, there are more exciting ways to sip Maker's Mark than using it in a Bourbon Renewal.

Kentucky Made

New York City's now-shuttered Milk & Honey cocktail bar is responsible for some of your favorite cocktails, like the Gold Rush, explains Money Inc. The Kentucky Maid is yet another cocktail that was dreamed up at the bar, reports Bloomberg. There is a familiar sour element, alongside a refreshing component of cucumber and mint. And it's a real exercise in restraint and how sometimes the simple pleasures produce stellar rewards. Bourbon, is in fact, the alcohol for this cocktail and we love that it adds robustness to a drink that would otherwise be too light and simple.

The spiced honey notes of Maker's Mark actually complement the syrup and lime in the Kentucky Maid, but there are some big baking spices that we think cause a clash. It's not the worst bourbon you can choose. But if you're going for more of a complimentary booze in this cocktail, you'd be better off picking something with some warmer, subtler spice notes. For these reasons, the Kentucky Maid made it towards the middle of our list.

Moscow mule

It might be common knowledge that the Moscow mule does not have Russian roots, and was invented in 1940s California, but that doesn't make it any less delicious. This cocktail, which is a simple combination of vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice, is a refreshing drink when the temperatures rise. These are served in a copper mug, which was inventd by Sophie Berezenski, who immigrated to the United States from Russia in 1941, reports the Moscow Copper Co. website.

We quite like the Moscow Mule as is, so using bourbon instead of vodka feels unnecessary. But that's a thing and it's known as a Kentucky Mule. When using Maker's Mark as the bourbon of choice for your next Kentucky mule, you may notice that the bourbon is lackluster, lagging behind the other ingredients. It's not the bourbon's best showing and we think Maker's Mark works better with a simpler set of ingredients, so as not to be overshadowed. It won't be the worst way to sip on Maker's Mark but, instead of accentuating them, the ginger prevents the bourbon from showing its subtly warm qualities.

Whiskey ginger

Bourbon is a type of whisky but because "bourbon ginger" doesn't have the same ring as "whisky ginger" we'll use that name. Making this highball is pretty simple, mix bourbon and ginger. You can follow a recipe, like the one on the Maker's Mark website, or just use ratios based on your own preferences.

Silent screen siren Greta Garbo was a fan of the Whisky Ginger, Letters and Liquors explains, so if you want to channel an old-school elegance, this may be your drink of choice. If you buy a high-quality ginger ale or ginger soda, you may find that the Maker's Mark disappears completely. You could add a few ginger extras, like ginger syrup or candied ginger, but really do you want to have to tinker with a drink that's already supposed to be complete on its own? The Maker's Mark brings some nice spiciness to it, but because ginger ale is so powerful, it doesn't hold up as it should.


Cocktail preference is based on your individual palate, but those who love a stronger cocktail with some complexity likely love Manhattans. This cocktail is made of bourbon or rye whisky, sweet vermouth, (Angostura and orange) bitters along with a cherry garnish. It's kind of amazing such a simple ingredient list can produce such complexity as the Manhattan.

Although it's not known when exactly the Manhattan was created, Spirit of York Distillery reports that it might date back to the early 1880s when it was created by a man who lived in lower Manhattan and popularized by a bartender in the area. It's a cocktail that's stood the test of time. So when you take a not-so-potent whisky like Maker's Mark and try to incorporate it into such a powerful drink as the Manhattan, it gets lost. With such simple ingredients, the whisky needs to be bold. And Maker's Mark just doesn't quite fit the bill.


What do you get when you mix lemon juice, honey syrup, ginger, and not one, but two types of Scotch? You get the penicillin, a larger-than-life cocktail that takes its name from the antibiotic's ability to cure many ailments, Chilled explains. It's slightly similar to a few other lemon juice, whisky, and syrup cocktails like the gold rush or the whisky sour, but the ginger makes it feel more like a riff on a hot toddy ... without the "hot."

If you do decide to use Maker's Mark as one of your whiskies, you won't be disappointed but you probably also won't be thrilled. It's a cocktail that benefits from the smoky notes of Scotch and that's something that just doesn't come through when using Maker's Mark. We do love the sweetness of the Maker's Mark but besides that, there's not much about the bourbon that makes it feel like a penicillin's match made in heaven.

Whiskey sour

Whisky sour is a cocktail with a fascinating history. This drink, which according to The Manual, dates back to at least the 1860s, was made with ingredients that were convenient to sailors of the time. Citrus fruits were kept onboard to help ward off scurvy and spirits helped to quench sailors' thirst when there was no water.

A Whisky Sour is such a classic flavor combination that it's hard not to love. It's a combination of bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white, along with cherries and angostura bitters for garnish. It is sweet and sour and the perfect antidote to heavy, overly sweet cocktails. The Maker's Mark works well in here because it's not a big, bold bourbon. Instead, the Maker's Mark lets the other ingredients take center stage, while still buttressing the drink with subtle spice. It also has sweet aromas that help to underscore the sweetness of the drink, without overloading the sugar.

Old fashioned

Old fashioneds are sophisticated yet approachable. They are suitable for cozy fall nights, hangouts with friends, and virtually everything in between. Now Maker's Mark is known for being a slightly sweeter bourbon. And instead of it layering too much sugar on top of the citrus and sugar already in an Old Fashioned, Maker's Mark is a complementary bourbon.

Now it doesn't create the most complex old fashioned, but what it does do is create an old fashioned that's got universal appeal. It'll be one that old fashioned haters will probably gravitate towards. And because Maker's Mark uses barrel staves that are air-dried for nine months and then charred, as the distillery states on its website, the whisky has sweet vanilla notes, and no bitterness, making it complimentary in an old fashioned. It's believed that the old fashioned was enjoyed as far back as the 1860s, says Centurion Magazine, and it's become a beloved cocktail throughout its history. We love this classic cocktail and what the Maker's Mark brings out in it.

Paper plane

If you like a cocktail that's balanced and simple but somehow packs surprising punches, you're probably already a fan of the Paper plane. This cocktail, which dates back to 2008, according to Punch Drink, is equal parts bourbon, Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, Aperol (or Campari, if you're a purist), and lemon juice. And it's initially bitter from the Aperol and lemon juice. That's where the bourbon comes in. It smoothes the cocktail out and transforms it from unbalanced to downright delicious.

When made with Maker's Mark, there's a much-needed softness to the drink. There are Maker's Mark's signature spice notes, but also some caramel, apple, and subtle cocoa that really add to the flavor profile. And this is just what a Paper Plane needs to round out the bitterness for a smooth landing. The Paper Plane is a great cocktail and made with Maker's Mark, it's taken to new heights.


If you're a fan of the negroni and the Manhattan, chances are, you're also already a boulevardier fan. This drink, which channels equal parts of each, made its popular drinking culture comeback around 2014, according to The New York Times. It was in the late 1920s that socialite and writer Erskine Gwynne created the cocktail in Paris. And its staying power is quite clear when you consider it's still a popular drink nearly 100 years later.

The boulevardier is simple. So if you've got bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth, then you've got all it requires to throw one of these together! But when made with Maker's Mark something interesting happens. The drink is rather chill ... it's rich but subdued. So when you use Maker's Mark as the bourbon in this drink, it does lift the flavors a bit more. Maybe it's the ginger notes that The Whiskey Shelf noticed. Or perhaps it's the fact that Maker's Mark has a slightly thinner texture than some other bourbons, which means it integrates nicely with the other components of the drink. Either way, choosing a Maker's Mark boulevardier is one of the better decisions you can make in life.

Gold rush

You could consider us suckers of the gold rush cocktail. What's not to love about bourbon with honey and lemon? It works year-round because of its bright acidity mixed with the deep, rich notes of bourbon and honey. But when made with Maker's Mark, which is known for its signature baking spice notes like cinnamon and clove, we have a match made in cocktail heaven. There are many cocktails that bourbon works well with but we love the pure simplicity of the gold rush. It's a simple recipe that calls for bourbon, lemon juice, and some honey syrup, according to Difford's. And it shows why sometimes simpler is better.

The gold rush cocktail is actually a rather recent one, with roots dating back to 2001 in the iconic NYC bar Milk & Honey. But that doesn't stop its taste from being timeless. And when made with Maker's Mark, it gets a facelift that helps to keep the drink fresh.