Bourbon has been enjoyed in the United States for nearly as long as it has been a country. A distinctive type of whiskey comprised of at least 51 percent corn, it is rumored to have gotten its name from Kentucky’s Bourbon County, where it was allegedly first distilled. In 1964, Congress officially recognized bourbon as a distinctive American product, and in 2007 declared September as “National Bourbon Heritage Month.” Make sure before the month is over you celebrate by enjoying one of the superior bourbon cocktails found at the following Connecticut bars and restaurants.

Engine Room
13 Holmes St.
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 415-8117

Housed inside an old marine engine building, hence the name, this hip joint overlooking the Mystic River prides itself on its burgers and bourbon. Of the latter, it boasts the most extensive selection in the region — close to three dozen varieties. If you can’t decide among them, go with its signature bourbon cocktail, Universal Truth. With Rowan’s Creek Bourbon, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Martinez Lacuesta wine, Campari, and orange bitters, it is truly, in its own words, “deep and elusive.”

Assaggio Branford
168 Montowese St.
Branford, CT 06405
(203) 483-5426

Assaggio does a commendable job recreating a piece of Northern Italy on the Branford green. In addition to delectable fare from lobster ravioli to chicken breast stuffed with spinach, the restaurant serves a top-notch bourbon cocktail. The Bourbon Negroni mixes Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon with Carpano Antica Vermouth, Zucca aperitif and lightly muddled orange. It will taste especially satisfying sitting on Assaggio’s outdoor patio on a warm evening after work.

15 Harbor Point Road
Stamford, CT 06902
(203) 998-7500

Chef and Food Network star Aaron Sanchez recently opened Paloma in Stamford’s Harbor Point, to great acclaim. While there is nothing the Latin grill doesn’t do right, its inspired cocktails — infused with spirits from South and Central America — are worthy of special praise. Go for the Bees & Honey made with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, El Buho Mezcal, raw honey, lemon and ginger-tumeric nectar. It’s a sweet, zesty concoction that is perfectly appropriate for Paloma’s location by the water.

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116 Crown
116 Crown St.
New Haven, CT 06510
(203) 777-3116

Named for its address, New Haven’s 116 Crown is a sophisticated lounge that distinguishes itself with its cocktails created by owner and chief mixologist John Ginnetti. The highlight of its drink offerings is the 4th and Clyde, named for the canal in Scotland from where Hendrick’s Gin originates. The gin is combined with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, honey, lime and salemme chili flakes. The result is a unique blend of taste sensations to delight your palate.

6 Wilton Road
Westport, CT 06880
(203) 557-8955

A welcome recent addition to Westport, NEAT is a modern cafe by day and a stylish cocktail bar by night. It is also one of the best places in the state to get a cocktail with bourbon that has been “washed” with bacon fat, a growing trend in the spirits world. NEAT’s Over Easy mixes this bacon-washed bourbon with Grand Marnier liqueur, lemon, cane sugar and Jerry Thomas bitters. It gives the drink a slight smoky flavor that distinguishes it from other bourbon cocktails.

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Joshua Palmes is a freelance writer covering all things Connecticut. His work can be found on