Welcome to the world of summer bourbon cocktails, where the smooth, rich flavors of bourbon meet the bright, vibrant essence of the season. These cocktails are all about embracing the laid-back, sun-soaked days and balmy evenings with a touch of sophistication. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue, lounging by the pool, or simply unwinding on the porch, these recipes offer a refreshing twist to elevate your summer gatherings. From fruity infusions to herbaceous blends, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So, grab your favorite bourbon, muddle some fresh ingredients, and get ready to savor the essence of summer in each sip.
A tasty twist on the classic vodka-based Moscow Mule, the Kentucky Mule swaps tasteless vodka for Kentucky Bourbon. The bourbon blends perfectly with lime juice and ginger beer to create a tall refreshing summertime cocktail. The smokiness and caramel notes in aged bourbon pair beautifully with the spicy sweet ginger beer.
The Kentucky Derby may be a springtime event, but the Mint Julep still makes a refreshing and delicious summer bourbon cocktail. It is an easy cocktail to make, involving muddling mint and simple syrup in a glass before adding bourbon. The sharp flavor of the mint and sweet simple syrup combine with the smokey bourbon producing a well-rounded cocktail.
If you want a refreshing cocktail that isn’t sweet, the Bourbon Rickey is the perfect pick. Named after a Washington D.C. bar regular and politician Joe Rickey who placed his stamp of approval on the bartender’s adaptation of his regular order. The Bourbon Rickey is simply a Bourbon and soda with a hefty squeeze of lime.
A newcomer to the cocktail scene, the Gold Rush originated in a New York City bar in the early 2000s. While its name might make you think it originates in California, it’s more of a descriptor of this bourbon cocktail’s golden hue. The Gold Rush is essentially a Bourbon sour that blends bourbon, lemon juice, and honey simple syrup. Honey and bourbon are a match made in flavor heaven, receiving a touch of acidity from the lemon.
Using a list of rare and prestigious ingredients, the Paper Plane is another new and fashionable bourbon cocktail. It combines equal parts Amaro, Aperol, Bourbon, and lemon juice, resulting in a sophisticated flavor palate of sour, bitter, smoky, and sweet. This recipe makes a single cocktail, but since it calls for equal measurements of all ingredients, you can easily scale it up for a crowd.
Whether “smash” refers to its inebriating effects or the technique used to make it, this tasty bourbon cocktail is a crowd-pleaser. It is essentially a citrusy Mint Julep, adding lemon wedges to the classic simple syrup and mint muddling. The well-balanced flavor profile boasting sweet, tart, minty, and smoky notes, makes this summer bourbon cocktail a big favorite.
This highly alcoholic cocktail features both bourbon and gin in equal parts along with lime juice, ginger beer, and a few dashes of Angostura bitters. It’s got something for everyone, drawing its flavor profile from the Moscow Mule but with a smoky and botanical flavor palate from two very bold spirits.
Originally a “hair of the dog” drink to remedy a hangover from the previous night’s debauchery, the Bourbon Old Fashioned is now one of the most iconic bourbon cocktails you can order. It’s a simple three-ingredient cocktail that blends sugar, water, and Angostura bitters in a glass before adding the bourbon.
There’s no summer fruit more delicious than the cherry, and this Cherry Bourbon Smash features a double dose of cherries. This recipe has you muddle whole cherries with simple syrup, lemon, and mint to infuse cherry-flavored bourbon. This bright and rich cocktail is a great dinner party cocktail to impress your guests.
Bourbon may be from a landlocked region of the US, but this Beachy Bourbon cocktail will transport you to the Mediterranean coast. It consists of the famous Italian liqueur, Campari, giving the drink a bright red hue. Lime juice and ginger beer add a spicy, sweet, and tart trifecta to balance the bitterness of Campari and the smokiness of bourbon.
Another sumptuous summer harvest cocktail, the Sweet Bourbon Peach Smash, muddles a whole yellow peach to infuse the bourbon with intense sweetness. Lemon juice adds a nice acidity to the mix. Grenadine and ginger beer provide a spicy, bitter, and carbonated finish. This recipe makes one drink, and with one whole peach per serving, it’s like a boozy peach cobbler in a glass.
This twist on everyone’s favorite summer refresher is just as thirst-quenching as the simple half-tea-half-lemonade recipe. It has you make your own lemonade using lemon juice and honey, along with chilled black tea and bourbon. The honey brings out the smokiness in the bourbon while also highlighting its rich, caramel notes.
If you want to take a classic Bourbon Sour to the next level, this Forbidden Sour only adds one ingredient that makes all the difference. Apart from the trio of lemon juice, simple syrup, and bourbon, the Forbidden Sour gets a serving of pomegranate liqueur. The pomegranate adds an exotic fruity note for a sophisticated Mediterranean flavor profile.
Perhaps the most unique summer bourbon cocktail on the list, the Tropical Hibiscus Bourbon cocktail has you make a tart, sweet hibiscus syrup in conjunction with orgeat liqueur and lemon juice. The double dose of tartness from the hibiscus and lemon juice gets a nutty complement from the orgeat and a smoky Bourbon finish.
Considering they’re both rooted in Southern tradition, bourbon, and sweet tea are a match made in history. This Bourbon Sweet Tea Cocktail uses a premade Arnold Palmer sweet tea in a three-to-one ratio with bourbon. Muddled mint leaves and citrus bitters are combined for an elegant finish.
This easy summer bourbon cocktail requires no fancy equipment. You make it all in one cocktail glass, starting with muddling fresh raspberries with mint. Simple syrup and bourbon come next, followed by a hefty pour of soda water to top it all off. Since you don’t put this concoction through a strainer, you get a wonderful pulpy, carbonated texture.
Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.
In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.