New Recipe: Blackberry Bourbon Smash to Celebrate Summer
If you haven't been converted to bourbon as a summer spirit, let this Blackberry Bourbon Smash be your inaugural summer bourbon cocktail.
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Bourbon is one of those spirits that dresses you in plaid flannel shirt and sits you down in an overstuffed leather armchair cozied up next to a roaring fire. It warms you up as it goes down, helping you forget there's a blizzard outside. But under a blazing summer sun, bourbon needs to be cooled down a bit so we did just that with the Blackberry Bourbon Smash. It's so good, it might just turn into your new favorite summer sipper.
This cocktail is like a blackberry cobbler served over crushed ice. The bourbon lends its caramel and cinnamon notes to mingle with the blackberries' syrupy fruit for a lively liquid confection to close out any cookout from Father's Day to Labor Day. (It's also an excellent way to make use of an overabundance of summer blackberries.)
Photo by Brittany Conerly
Making a blackberry bourbon smash is easy — you do little more than follow along with the title, but we made this mix special. Some blackberry smashes call for simply muddling the fruit, which is just smashing the fruit in the bottom the glass to release the juices (you can use a wooden spoon if you don't have a muddler). But we wanted to take full advantage of summer's bounty of berries. To do that, we simmered fresh blackberries with sugar; the mixture is then pureed and strained to make an intense, flavorful syrup. More berries are then smashed in a rocks glass, buried under ice, and drenched with the syrup, bourbon, and elderflower liqueur. To give it sparkle, it's topped with ginger beer and garnished with fresh blackberries or lime wedges. The fizz wakes up the bourbon and berries for a mirthful mouthful that you shouldn't wait to make.
Make It Your Own
Whether you don't have all the ingredients or you want to adjust it to suit your palate, there are several ways to make this blackberry bourbon smash your own without destroying the integrity of the cocktail.
Syrup substitutes You can create a different flavor experience with fruit that pairs well with blackberries. If you have fresh ginger on hand, you can grate a teaspoon from a knob and toss it in the syrup as it cooks to make it slightly spicy. You can also substitute a portion of the blackberries with peaches, raspberries, or mango. Alternatively, if it's just too much fruit for you, you can use simple syrup in place of the blackberry syrup.
No-boil solution Instead of making traditional syrup, you can macerate the blackberries. All you do is cover the berries in sugar and let them sit overnight. The sugar draws out the juice and creates its own syrup so all you have to do is strain the berries to collect the syrup. You can then use the macerated berries to muddle.
Photo by Brittany Conerly
Syrup shortcut If you're short on time and berries, you can skip the syrup and the muddling and use blackberry jam as your mixer. It's kind of like having pre-muddled fruit and syrup mixed together. It'll cut down on the prep time and total time so you can spend less time mixing and more time sipping.
Muddling add-ins Fresh mint also pairs well with blackberries. You can toss few sprigs of mint in the glass with the berries before you muddle the fruit into a jam. You can also use the mint leaves as a garnish.
Sparklers While this recipe calls for ginger beer, you can use other sparkling sodas in its place. If you want less sugar, you can use plain club soda to give it fizz without making it sweeter. If you want it to be a bit boozier, you can top it with Champagne or sparkling wine.
Whether you're making a special drink for Father's Day or you're just looking for a way to cool down your bourbon, this cocktail is designed for backyard summer sipping.