Bourbon Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies | Pittsburgh City Paper

Bourbon Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

By 1830, Jim Beam was shipping its product in burnt-out, used fish and vinegar barrels.

Established in 1795, Jim Beam is one of the oldest food brands in America. The Bohm family came from Germany and settled in Kentucky. Soon after, they changed their surname to Beam and began producing a whiskey (bourbon) originally called Old Jake Beam Sour Mash. The corn grown in Western Pennsylvania and Kentucky created a sweet and flavorful whiskey that quickly became famous, generating high demand. By 1830, Jim Beam was shipping its product in burnt-out, used fish and vinegar barrels. Sounds gross, but by burning those barrels, the company created the perfect smoky storage for what is now known as Kentucky bourbon. This recipe for bourbon oatmeal-raisin cookies takes advantage of those smoky flavors, and it’s so simple, you will not need a stand mixer.


  • 1½ cups raisins
  • ⅓ cup good-quality bourbon, plus a little extra to taste
  • 1½ stick butter, melted
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large yolk, beaten together
  • 1 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats


Combine the raisins and bourbon in a bowl, and set aside for at least 30 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, both sugars and cinnamon. Stir well. Add the eggs, and mix well. Add the molasses and vanilla. Now, add the dry ingredients, one at a time, starting with the baking soda and salt, then the flour, followed by the oats. After all the ingredients are well mixed, add the bourbon-soaked raisins, along with any remaining liquid in the bowl. Stir. (Do not start eating the batter, you will not have any left. Trust us.). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and pop it in the refrigerator until chilled, about one hour. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare your cookies on a lined baking tray. We suggest making them into balls, and then flatten them slightly with your hands or the back of a spoon. Cook until golden. Depending on size of the cookie, bake for 12-17 minutes.  

Tricia Cohen and Lisa Graves are the authors of A Thyme and Place: Medieval Feasts and Recipes for the Modern Table and A Thyme to Discover: Early American Recipes for the Modern Table.