Southern Sunset – Bourbon and Rye Whiskey Cocktail

Southern Sunset Bourbon and Rye Whiskey Cocktail
Southern Sunset Bourbon and Rye Whiskey Cocktail

Maybe you aren’t a bourbon/whiskey fan…. I hear ya, I’ve been there. Until I grew up and realized there are incredibly smooth and complex versions of these liquors that are absolutely incredible. The Southern Sunset – Bourbon and Rye Whiskey Cocktail is just such a creation!

Adding bourbon and whiskey to cocktails can turn into something extraordinary as well! Like this Southern Sunset.

What’s in the Southern Sunset?

This cocktail is truly a treat for your eyes and tastebuds!

The drink is made by mixing bourbon and rye whiskey, along with cranberry simple syrup and angostura bitters. Just these ingredients alone are quite lovely, but this cocktail has a surprise.

We add a Chartreuse rinse to the glass, set it on fire, then spritz it with orange zest. The orange zest sparks when it enters into the fire for a fabulous presentation and adds the the overall flavor of the drink.

Bourbon and Rye Whiskey

Southern Sunset Bourbon and Rye Whiskey Cocktail
This delicious cocktail is made with Bourbon, Rye Whiskey, Cranberry Simple Syrup, Angostura Bitters, and a Yellow Chartreuse flaming rinse!

Bourbon is a bit sweeter than Rye Whiskey so combining them in this drink balanced out the overall flavor a bit more. Go for a Kentucky bourbon that you like, we often try a variety of bourbons, so anything you prefer should work fine here. You can also play around with this and try it with whiskey to see which combo you like best. The same goes for rye whiskey, use one you like, or try a few before landing on your favorite combo.

The flavors of the bourbon and rye whiskey are not super prominent in this cocktail once all the ingredients are added. You will find that they end up being pretty mellow overall, which is why I recommend this cocktail even if you aren’t a huge bourbon/whiskey fan.

Cranberry Simple Syrup

It’s usually fairly easy to find a cranberry simple syrup but we prefer to make our own. This is especially nice around the holidays when cranberries are all over the place, but can be made with frozen cranberries or even cranberry juice any time of the year.

To make the cranberry simple syrup:

Angostura Bitters
Angostura Bitters are added to balance the flavors in this drink
  1. Combine 2 cups of cranberries with 2 cups of water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Once the cranberries all pop (you will hear this, and see the skins split), let the mixture simmer for the full 15-20 minutes and then strain using a fine sieve then return to the low heat.
  3. You should have about a cup of liquid at this point. Add one cup of granulated sugar (or an equal amount of sugar as you have liquid) and stir to combine. Once the sugar fully dissolves, you are done.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about 1 month.

Angostura Bitters

Angostura Aromatic Bitters really round out this cocktail. Bitters are concentrated alcohol that are infused with a variety of ingredients and are used to flavor drinks. Angostura bitters have herb and spice flavors and are a great addition to a variety of cocktails.

We are big fans of bitters around here and typically use them in our cocktails. You can leave out the bitters, but we encourage you to pick some up and give them a try in your drinks.

Chartreuse Rinse

Now to the fun part! The fire!

Yellow Chartreuse Flaming Rinse
Yellow Chartreuse Flaming Rinse

For this part of the drink, we use a small amount of Yellow Chartreuse (1/4 oz) in the coup glass and coat the sides of the glass by tilting it. Chartreuse is a French liquor that has flavors and aromas of herbs and spices. Yellow Chartreuse is slightly sweeter which is why it is our choice for this cocktail.

If you can’t find Chartreuse, you can use Galliano, which has a similar color and flavor that works well with this cocktail. The goal here is to have a somewhat sweeter liquor or liqueur that is fairy high in alcohol content so that you can catch it on fire.

DISCLAIMER: Alcohol is flammable and the use of fire in this cocktail needs to be approached with caution. If not careful, you can burn yourself.

Flaming Zest

The flame is this cocktail is not just for presentation, but it does make an extraordinary show!

Southern Sunset - Bourbon and Rye Whiskey Cocktail
Pouring the chilled drink over the flaming Chartreuse extinguishes the flame and cools the glass.

You will first light the Chartreuse on fire, then taking a disc of orange peel, you will squeeze the peel to release the zest onto the fire. The zest will spark briefly here, resulting in a beautiful aroma.

Pouring the chilled contents of your mixing glass over the Chartreuse extinguishes the fire and cools the glass while releasing a little smoke in the process. You will absolutely love the aromas produced by this!

For funsies, you can spritz another orange peel through a long matchstick over the top of the drink right before serving if you feel so inclined to entertain your guests. Otherwise, serve this with an orange peel twist or dehydrated orange wheel.

Flaming Zest Shot
Flaming Zest Shot


We hope you enjoy this fun Bourbon and Rye Whiskey cocktail. If you give it a try, leave us a comment below or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!

Southern Sunset
Southern Sunset – Bourbon and Rye Whiskey Cocktail

If you like this cocktail, check out more of our favorites below:

Southern Sunset – Bourbon and Rye Whiskey Cocktail

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Angela and Mark Course: Drinks and CocktailsCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium


Prep time



Adding bourbon and whiskey to cocktails can turn it into something extraordinary! Like this Southern Sunset.


  • 1/4 oz 1/4 Yellow Chartreuse

  • 1 oz 1 Bourbon

  • 1 oz 1 Rye Whiskey

  • 1/2 oz 1/2 Cranberry Simple Syrup

  • 3 dashes 3 Angostura Aromatic Bitters

  • Orange peel for zest

  • Orange wheel for garnish (optional)


  • In a coupe glass add the Chartreuse and tilt and turn the glass so the Chartreuse coats the inside of the glass about ¾ of the way up the sides.
  • In a mixing glass, add bourbon, rye whiskey, cranberry simple syrup, and bitters with ice and stir for about 30 seconds until the contents have chilled.
  • Carefully light the chartreuse in the glass on fire using a long matchstick or lighter stick. The flame will be very light blue and may be difficult to see so wave your hand over the top to feel the heat if you aren’t sure if it is lit.

    DISCLAIMER: Fire can cause burns and alcohol is very flammable. Use caution when incorporating fire into your cocktails.
  • You will need to move quickly now. Take your orange peel and holding it with the peel facing the top of the cocktail quickly squeeze it so the zest sprays onto the top of the lit Chartreuse. The zest will spark up slightly for a beautiful presentation.
  • Immediately pour the contents of your mixing glass into the coup which will extinguish the flame and cool the glass. Optionally, you can take another orange peel and quickly zest it over the top of the drink through a lit long matchstick or lighter stick for dramatic effect.
  • Add your optional orange wheel for garnish, or twist the zested orange peel and add it in your drink.

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