Tempted to try a bourbon slushie in this sweltering weather? This lavender lemon bourbon slushie is an easy to make and even easier to sip cocktail. It’s perfect for parties because you can create a batch, put it in the freezer and just pull it out about 15 minutes before serving to defrost a touch. Or batch it so your Friday cocktail is as easy as spooning it into a cocktail glass.
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Freeze Your Bourbon
If you’ve ever had a great frozen cocktail, you’ve witnessed the beautiful science of chilled/frozen alcohol. And there is a science to it. Pure ethanol freezes at -173.5 F. Yes, that’s a negative in front. Alcohol that’s 80 proof freezes at about -16 degrees F. Not many home freezers get quite that cold – they hover around 0 degrees F. So to get your cocktail to freeze at home, you need to adjust the overall proof of your slushie cocktail to around 10-12 percent.
This means you’ll add more volume to the cocktail in order to reduce the proof to something you can freeze at home.
What Happens to Alcohol When You Freeze It?
Anything freezes if you get it cold enough. Anything. When talking about booze and liquor though, there are flavor and aroma consequences to freezing a drink.
Many alcohols, and especially aged spirits, get the bulk of their flavor and aromas from the volatile flavor molecules in the liquid. By volatile, I mean that they’re easily able to bond with other types of molecules, water, oxygen, alcohol, etc. When those molecules and compounds are chilled or frozen, they don’t have the same energy to bond. That means they stay in solution in the liquor instead of wafting off the surface or blending with other liquids added to the spirit.
They’re cold, and they’d just rather stay inside the liquid.
This means that the nose and flavor of alcohol that’s been chilled to will be muted. Not only are the flavors of the alcohol reduced, but other flavors and aromas pull back as well. The sweetness, bitterness, and proof of the cocktail are far less apparent. When creating frozen cocktails, you need to increase volume, increase sweetness, and any balancing flavors, but you want to decrease the overall proof of the cocktail.
For bourbons, which must be bottled at 80 proof or higher, there are also two changes to the appearance of the spirit. Because some of the kinds of flavor molecules that make bourbon so tasty are fat-soluble, at low temperatures, lower-proof bourbon can become slightly cloudy. This doesn’t damage the bourbon, but some distilleries employ a process called chill filtering to remove some of those substances. The bourbon is chilled to below freezing and run through filters that remove those substances.
Some experts claim chill filtering removes a lot of flavor from a whiskey, and others argue that it improves the flavor of the whiskey. Since each palate is different, both statements are likely true.
Additionally, the spirit becomes much more viscous and thick. With an 80 proof bourbon it starts to look like syrup as you pour it out of the bottle.
How to Calculate Proof of a Cocktail
Remember math class? If you gather the proof of each spirit, the volume of each, and find the total volume of the cocktail you can calculate the proof of the drink. Proof is just alcohol by volume multiplied by two.
(Liquor volume x alcohol volume / Total volume) x 100 = Drink ABV
Let’s take an example, the whiskey sour (since this cocktail is a floral riff on a sour).
- 2 oz 100 proof bourbon (50% ABV)
- ¾ oz lemon juice
- ¾ oz simple syrup
- 3 dashes bitters
- Dilution from shaking (0.75 oz of water)
Here’s how the formula would look:
[(2 x 0.5)/ 4.5] x 100 = 22% alcohol
Ta Da! That wasn’t so hard, was it? If you’d rather plug your information into a calculator, a basic calculator can be found on the Cocktail Chemistry site.
Who Cares? Show Me the Easy Lavender Lemon Bourbon Slushie!
So let’s talk bourbon slushies. Many traditional bourbon slushies use iced tea as the base for the drink. By adding sugar, lemonade concentrate and orange concentrate to bourbon and tea you get a slushie that’s a little dry from the tea, but one that’s tart and sweet as well.
I wanted to create a lemon bourbon slushie that uses lemonade instead of tea as the base because one of my favorite easy cocktails is just bourbon added to lemonade with a splash of orange juice.
But summer makes me think of florals, so I whipped up a batch of lavender syrup (I brewed 2 tablespoons of dried lavender into 1 cup of water and added 1 cup sugar) to add to lemonade. I love lavender whiskey sours in the summer
I did add a bit of limoncello to make sure the essence of lemon shines through even though it will be frozen. This gave the cocktail a much brighter palate. I also wanted to make sure the lavender florals were apparent as well, so I added a few dashes of Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters.
Best Bourbon for a Slushie
There are two main factors to consider when selecting a bourbon for a bourbon slushie. First, you want to consider proof. This is one case where a high proof or barrel proof bourbon will not work. The higher proof keeps the cocktail from setting in the freezer and you’ll end up with a soupy, half-frozen cocktail.
The best bourbon for frozen cocktails will be between 80 and 90 proof and will be one with assertive flavors that can rise through the effect of chilling the spirit. Sometimes the best bourbon for slushies is a younger bourbon, around 4-5 years old.
As always I encourage you to make sure the flavors and bourbon are compatible by nosing both at the same time. If it smells good together it will probably taste good together.
How to Make a Lavender Lemon Bourbon Slushie
Making bourbon slushies are fast and easy, but you do have to wait for the freezer to do its work. I put everything into a sealable plastic container, shake it up and place it on a flat surface in the freezer. This keeps the liquid from becoming a sticky mess in the bottom of your freezer if it spills.
Some recipes have you fluff the cocktail with a fork every hour while it’s freezing. I don’t usually bother with that because the proof of the cocktail is enough that as soon as it starts to defrost a bit you can stir it up with a spoon for a perfect slushie texture.
Once the cocktail has set in the freezer, in about 4-6 hours, set it on the counter for about 10 minutes then scoop into chilled glasses to serve with a fresh sprig of lavender.
These are perfect to batch as well, but you will need more freeze time to get the cocktail to set. Plan on leaving it overnight to get a large batch to freeze. Using a shallow pan, like a cake pan, will allow the batched cocktail to freeze much faster.
Batch Recipe for a Lemon Bourbon Slush
I generally convert to batches by increasing ounces to cups. Here’s a batch of 15-20 bourbon slushies. Each serving is around 6-8 ounces.
- 8 cups lemonade
- 2 cups bourbon
- 1 cup limoncello
- 1 ¼ cup lavender simple syrup
- 16 dashes lavender or hummingbird bitters
- Optional (if you like your cocktails tart) ½ cup lemon juice
Add all ingredients to a large pan, cover, and put in the freezer on a flat surface. Leave overnight. About 20 minutes before serving, set the pan on the counter to defrost slightly. Fluff/stir the frozen cocktail with a fork. Scoop into chilled glasses and serve with a straw and/or spoon.
Alternatives to Lavender in this Lemon Bourbon Slushie
Not everyone loves the floral taste of lavender. If you prefer, you can use any simple syrup that’s infused. Love blackberry? Add blackberry syrup. Mint, basil, and rosemary are all great herb alternatives to florals. Want to be a little extra? Create a peach-basil-infused syrup to add to the lemonade and garnish with a fresh peach slice and a sprig of basil. You will wow everyone with that delicious bourbon cocktail.
Head to my article all about simple syrups for cocktails for more information on creating those infused simple syrups.
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Recommended Bar Tools
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You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:
Lavender Lemon Bourbon Slushie AKA The Sneak
- 8 oz lemonade
- 2 oz bourbon
- 1 oz limoncello
- 1.5 oz lavender simple syrup**
- 3 dashes lavender, orange or hummingbird bitters
- Optional ½ oz fresh lemon juice if you prefer very tart cocktails
- Optional ½ oz bourbon to top the slush as you serve it
- Garnish: lavender sprig and lemon rose
- Add lemonade, bourbon, limoncello, lavender syrup, bitters, and the optional lemon juice to a freezer-safe, sealable container. Lay flat in the freezer for about 4 hours. To serve, put on the counter for 50 to 10 minutes. Stir/fluff with a fork and scoop into chilled glasses to serve. Use a coupe if you want to be fancy about it and serve with a small dessert spoon.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 T dried culinary lavender
Add dried lavender to 1 cup of boiling water and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain and add sugar. Let dissolve completely and transfer to a clean glass jar. Store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. Alternatives to Lavender Simple: Not everyone loves the floral taste of lavender. If you prefer, you can use any simple syrup that’s infused. Love blackberry? Add blackberry syrup. Mint, basil, and rosemary are all great herb alternatives to florals. Want to be a little extra? Create a peach-basil-infused syrup to add to the lemonade and garnish with a fresh peach slice and a sprig of basil. You will wow everyone with that delicious bourbon cocktail. Head to my article all about simple syrups for cocktails for more information on creating those infused simple syrups.