This Blueberry Bourbon Smash ticks all the boxes for a summer bourbon cocktail for me. And yes, I did top it with a popsicle. Like white pants and shoes, Memorial Day means it’s time for popsicles in cocktails. It’s just my tradition, but I keep popsicles in cocktails as a strict summer-only tradition in my house. They work beautifully on hot, muggy days to keep the drinks cool and add a little fruit infusion to the mix.
For me, the bourbon smash is a perfect summer cocktail to make at home. You make one or two at a time, use the fresh citrus and herbs you have on hand, and mix up a fabulously tasty cocktail that you can infuse with a popsicle. Win-win-win!
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What is a Whiskey Smash?
Let’s back up. A Whiskey Smash is a cocktail that’s made with whiskey, a quartered lemon or lime (whatever citrus is on hand with a nice sour pucker), simple syrup and some fresh herb. It’s a muddled cocktail that can be built in a glass or prepared in a shaker and strained into a rocks glass with ice. The garnish is always simple – a wedge or wheel of the citrus and a sprig of the herb.
And it’s the most refreshing thing in the world to sip on in the summer.
If you’d like more on the basics of the Whiskey Smash, you can visit this article: Smash Hit – Whiskey Smash.
Flavors in this Blueberry Bourbon Smash
In this case, I have a blueberry sage whiskey smash with bourbon whiskey, one half a lemon, and a healthy dose of blueberry sage syrup. It’s a glorious combination. I muddled fresh sage leaves from the garden to make the sage flavors pop in the cocktail, and the combination of lemon and sage (think about lemon and sage together on chicken or fresh fish) added savory notes to the bourbon and blueberries in the cocktail.
One thing I love about smashes is that when you muddle the lemon or lime, you’re expressing the bitter citrus oils from the peels – and that means you can balance out the sweet elements of the cocktail with those bitter oils. It’s straight-up muddling magic and I love it.
Pro-tip – if you want to add some orange flavors to a smash, the best way to achieve that isn’t adding orange juice or orange wedges. It’s adding orange zest or peel that would normally go on the top of the cocktail to the shaker or glass while you are muddling the lemon, simple, and herbs.
But even though a traditional garnish of sage leaves and a few blueberries looked beautiful in the Blueberry Bourbon Smash, it’s Memorial Day Weekend. It was hot, and I was READY for popsicle cocktails.
The conundrum with popsicle cocktails? Do you eat the popsicle while you sip, or let it soak thoroughly in the cocktail to infuse before eating? It’s a personal preference. You do you.
Other Whiskey Smash Variations for Summer Popsicle Consumption
I haven’t made all of these variations (yet) but these are combinations on my list to try:
- Blackberry Lavender (lemon popsicle)
- Watermelon Kiwi Mint (orange popsicle)
- Strawberry Basil (lemon or lime popsicle)
- Peach Mint or Rosemary (I’m also considering cilantro for this one, thinking of peach salsa – with a lime popsicle)
- Raspberry Mint (coconut popsicle)
- Cherry thyme (lemon popsicle)
I could go on, but maybe this has piqued your interest. For each of these, I would consider if I just wanted to muddle the fresh fruit with the citrus, or just make a simple syrup from the fruit. Be careful with muddling delicate herbs like basil and mint – add them last and muddle them very gently and briefly. Otherwise, they turn bitter and you’ll have tiny green shards in your cocktail.
Other Considerations for Your Blueberry Bourbon Smash
If you prefer a lighter cocktail, top it off with a splash of lemon seltzer to give a little effervescence, but don’t forget the popsicle. I added a Trader Joe’s 3-fruit sorbet popsicle to nibble while I was sipping.
I don’t recommend creamy popsicles as a garnish for a Blueberry Whiskey Smash because of the citrus in the drink. It could cause the melted popsicles to curdle a bit in the drink. It won’t taste terrible, but it might be a little rough on the tongue.
If you choose to infuse your fruit simple syrup with an herb, add about 1 cup of loose leaves to a syrup with 2 cups fruit to 1 cup sugar to ¼-½ cup water. Delicate herbs like basil and mint should be added after the sugar has dissolved and the fruit has broken down – just before you take it off the heat. Let the fragile herbs steep while the mixture cools to room temperature.
When infusing with hardier herbs like rosemary, thyme, or anything with a woody stem, add the herbs about 5 minutes before you’ll take it off the heat, but while it’s still on a low simmer. Again, let the herbs steep while it cools.
Other Popsicle Drinks to Try
- Peach Raspberry Bourbon Sour
- Holy (Pop) Smokes – Mezcal Popsicle Cocktail
- Hot as Pop Outside – Peach Mango Popsicle Sipper
Blueberry Bourbon Smash
- 2 oz bourbon whiskey
- 1/2 large lemon, quartered, peel on
- 1 oz blueberry sage simple syrup plain blueberry is stellar in this as well
- 5 large sage leaves
- 1/4 oz amaro optional – I used Cynar
- Top off with lemon seltzer very optional
- Garnish: fresh sage sprig, lemon/raspberry/strawberry sorbet popsicle.
- In a cocktail shaker, muddle lemon and simple well.
- Add sage, muddle, then add bourbon whiskey and amaro.
- Add ice, shake hard, strain in a rocks glass or fancy humongous wine glass filled with ice.
- Top with lemon seltzer if you want a lighter cocktail.
- Garnish with sage and popsicle.
- 2 cups frozen wild blueberries
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup torn fresh sage leaves