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Blood Orange Bourbon Cooler

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blood orange cooler cocktail with vebena garnish and spent blood oranges
Blood Orange Bourbon Cooler

This is a cocktail masquerading as a mocktail with this Blood Orange Bourbon Cooler. You won’t realize it’s got a kick to it until it’s a little too late. Given its whiskey-sour origin, it’ll be far too easy to sip down, but it’s Friday, so we can kick back.

I occasionally find citrus in the fridge that I’ve forgotten. In this case, blood oranges I’d bought two weeks ago and forgotten as I had a number of other cocktails that had to be completed before. I love that citrus kept in the fridge still retains its freshness for a few weeks. I hate wasting produce – especially something like blood oranges – a little rarer than lemons and limes.

Orange juice gets a lot of hate from bartenders and mixologists. It’s not sweet enough to stand on its own in a cocktail as a sweetner. And it’s not sour enough to stand in for lemons or limes. But blood oranges have a little more tartness to them, and that color, well, it just begs to jump in the mixing tin.

blood orange cooler cocktail with vebena garnish and spent blood oranges
Blood Orange Bourbon Cooler

I still wanted more sour than I could get from blood oranges alone so I added a bit of lemon juice and balanced that out with a little peach simple. I originally tried it with plain simple syrup, but the peach added just a touch of the sour that mean it balanced better with the other ingredients.

I’m still on a cooler kick this week, so I topped off the cocktail with a bit of lemonade and a splash of ginger beer to add a bit of kick. I’m trying out Regatta Craft Mixers today and their ginger beer is perfect for mixing with bourbon cocktails. It’s got a bite to it, but it’s not so sweet that it throws the drink off. It’s definitely less sweet than the ginger ale, so in this case, with the other ingredients, going with their ginger beer was a winning situation.

I had to add a little bitters to the cocktail, and chose some BD Bittering Pineapple Serrano bitters than have a tartness from the pineapple and a lovely heat from the serrano. I originally put in 10 drops, but it tasted better with more of a hit of that heat and adjusted accordingly.

If you enjoy summer bourbon cocktails, check out my Mezcal Popsicle Cocktail – Holy (Pop) Smokes, or this Rainbow Bourbon Cooler.

blood orange cooler cocktail with vebena garnish and spent blood oranges
Blood Orange Bourbon Cooler
blood orange cooler cocktail with vebena garnish and spent blood oranges

Blood Orange Bourbon Cooler

Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktailHeather Wibbels
Blood orange, lemon, peach simple, bourbon, and ginger beer create a lively cocktail perfect for sipping on a hot afternoon. Deceptively light, depending on the proof of the bourbon, you can control how much of the bourbon you want to notice. I wouldn't go with a heavy char bourbon here because of the lighter, more delicate fruit flavors.
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Course Drinks
Cuisine Bourbon Cocktail
Servings 1


  • 1 oz fresh blood orange juice
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz peach simple syrup**
  • 3 oz lemonade
  • 16 drops pineapple serrano bitters
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • Regatta ginger beer to top
  • Garnish: lemon verbena sprig or blood orange wheel


  • Combine blood orange, bourbon, lemon juice, peach simple and bitters in a shaker. Fill with ice, shake briefly and double strain into a highball or large wine glass with ice. Add lemonade, stir briefly, then top with ginger beer. Garnish with a fresh sprig of lemon verbena or mint.


Peach Simple Syrup**
  • 2 cups peeled, chopped peaches
  • 2 cups sugar
Combine peaches and sugar in a resealable bag and muddle them together until well-mixed. Leave in the fridge overnight to 24 hours. Strain before using and store in the fridge.
Keyword apple bitters, blood orange, gingerbeer, lemon, lemon verbena, peach
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on August 7th, 2020
Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktail

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey and cocktail author (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching and designing cocktails, drinking cocktails, and teaching cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location.

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