Nothing’s better than a cold bourbon slushie on a hot summer day, and making a batched bourbon slushie means you can just scoop and serve cocktails to keep guests refreshed and happy at your soiree. While I occasionally make bourbon slushies in batches of two, I usually increase the ingredients to make a larger batch so I can keep some on hand for hot afternoons with friends.
The great thing about this cocktail is that you can make it days or weeks in advance and it keeps frozen in the fridge. Add a quick lemon twist or an edible flower to garnish when you serve and you come across as the ultimate host.
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What is a Bourbon Slushie?
A bourbon slushie is an easy-to-batch and easy-to-make cocktail that’s perfect for hot outdoor parties in the summer. Alcohol’s freezing point is much lower than water. That means that with alcoholic beverages, they turn to slush, but don’t freeze altogether. They’re also lower in alcohol, so one drink has far less booze in it than a typical cocktail.
In fact, to create a slushie, the alcohol needs to be about 10-15% alcohol by volume to be able to freeze in a home freezer. While restaurants and bars often have slushie machines making a very smooth, chilled slushies, this version doesn’t require any special equipment. On a hot day all it takes is a little fluffing with a fork before serving a scoop or two in a small chilled glass.
What’s the Best Bourbon to Use in a Slushie?
For any frozen treat that includes alcohol it’s best to use a spirit that has a ABV of 45% or less. With whiskey, that means you’ll want to find a bourbon or rye between 80-90 proof to use for your slushie.
When it comes to flavors, bourbons with nice citrus, cherry and fruit notes, as well as those with nutty or caramel notes make excellent choices. Overly oaky or leathery bourbons are not prime candidates for use in slushies with a base of lemonade.
However, bourbons and whiskies that are more assertive and pronounced in flavor tend to stay more apparent and are easier to discern in a frozen cocktail.
Ingredients in a Whiskey Slushie
For this whiskey slushie, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Bourbon (or whiskey) that’s between 80 and 90 proof or 40-45% ABV
- Simple syrup
Many people make a bourbon slushie using tea instead of lemonade. If you do substitute iced tea for some or all of the slushie, in those cases, oaky or dry bourbons would be a nice complement to the flavors of the frozen cocktail.
While limoncello is not a traditional ingredient in a slushie, it brightens the lemon flavor of the cocktail and also punches the booze content up just a bit.
The base cocktail recipe includes plain simple syrup, but using infused simple syrups creates vibrant and colorful variations. For example, using blackberry or blueberry syrup results in brilliantly-hued slushies while peach or passionfruit make delicious, tropical, and warm-colored boozy drinks.
During the summer I let the seasonal fruit I have on hand drive the flavor combinations I use. Even a honey rose syrup makes a delicate and delicious slushie flavor.
How to Make a Bourbon Slushie
Putting together the bourbon slushie takes just minutes. Take a 7 to 8 cup lidded container and add the ingredients. Shake or stir the ingredients and place them in the freezer for 8-10 hours or overnight.
About 10 minutes before serving, pull the container out of the freezer and use a fork to scrape the top of the batched slushie and break it into a feathery slush. Scoop the slushie into glasses (chilled is best) and garnish with a lemon twist or edible flower. Top with ½ oz of bourbon if you’d like a little more proof in your cocktail.
After serving the cocktails, place the batch back in the freezer until you need another set to serve.
Variations on the Basic Bourbon Slush
As mentioned above, varying the kind of simple syrup used in the slushie makes delightful variations. Fruit-infused syrups like watermelon, strawberry, orange, blueberry, blackberry or cherry create delicious magic with the bourbon and lemonade.
Herb- or flower-infused syrups also make delicious variations. Rosemary, lavender, sage, mint, verbena, rose and thyme create lovely floral and herbal notes when paired with complementary flavors in the bourbon.
If you’re not a fan of limoncello, adding a similar amount of a 25% ABV liqueur or cordial will make a great twist. Nut, chocolate, citrus, fruity or other summery flavors would be a great addition/substitution for the limoncello.
Other Cocktails You Might Enjoy
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Recommended Bar Tools
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You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:
Lemon Bourbon Slushie
- 4 cups lemonade
- 1 cup bourbon 45 % ABV or lower
- 4 oz limoncello
- 6 oz simple syrup optional – use fruit- or herb-infused syrups to add layers of complexity to your slushie if you want to be a little extra
- Optional: add ½ oz bourbon to top off the slushie as you serve it
- Garnish: lemon peel, fresh fruit, a sprig of mint or basil
- Add ingredients to a large, freezer-safe container.
- Stir and let freeze overnight.
- To serve, fluff the frozen slush with a fork and then use a spoon or ice cream scoop to serve.
- Add about a cup to a chilled glass, top with (optional) bourbon and garnish.
- Store extra in the freezer.