Summer strawberries inspired me to make this easy and fast riff on a classic – a Strawberry Whiskey Smash. By adding in strawberry flavor to the simple syrup and by muddling fresh strawberries, this whiskey cocktail can be both easy and refreshing at the end of the day or the start of a long weekend. If you see fresh strawberries at the farmers’ market, be sure to bring a couple of pints home to make the syrup and create this bourbon cocktail. This recipe is tart, sweet, and bright with the flavor of fresh strawberries.
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The Story of the Whiskey Smash
The whiskey smash has a storied history. It’s was originally a way to use on-hand citrus and sugar to improve harsh and unaged whiskey in the 1800s. At its core, it’s just citrus muddled with a bit of sugar and whiskey. For more info on the backstory and elements in a whiskey smash, head to How to Make a Whiskey Smash.
Because smashes at the time were designed to take advantage of any in-season fruit, we can easily riff on the classic smash. Add in fresh berries or fruit, herbs to muddle with the citrus, or even change out the lemon juice for lime, grapefruit, or acid adjusted orange juice.
Flavors in this Strawberry Whiskey Smash
Since mint season coincides with the strawberry season, I took the opportunity to add fresh mint to my muddle at the bottom of the shaking tin once the lemon and strawberries were muddled. But it’s not required for this strawberry bourbon smash. Smashes are meant to be spur of the moment, use what you have on hand cocktails. Since it’s July now, even basil or lavender would be great herbal additions to this cocktail.
Strawberries are already tart, especially if they’re slightly out of season, so you won’t need quite as much lemon juice than if you used blueberries, kiwi, or a sweeter fruit. And that tartness is buoyed by the lemon juice in the strawberry cocktail.
Instead of using a plain simple syrup in the cocktail recipe, I made a cold process strawberry simple syrup. I sprinkled sugar on a bowl of sliced strawberries. The sugar drew out the juice to created a syrup with the taste of fresh strawberries, not cooked strawberries.
In this strawberry whiskey smash, I wanted to make sure the strawberries would pair well with the bourbon so I chose a bourbon that was 95 proof or under and one that wasn’t full of strong oak, leather or tobacco flavors. An earthy bourbon would not meld well with the lighter and brighter fruit and citrus flavors found here. Woodford Reserve, Michter’s or Elijah Craig Small Batch all go well in this cocktail. While I used bourbon, a rye that’s close in flavor to a bourbon would go well here, something that’s got a mashbill of 60% or less of rye.
How to Make a Strawberry Whiskey Smash
Pick perfectly ripe strawberries, quarter them and place them in the bottom of a mixing tin along with a half lemon/quartered. Add the strawberry simple syrup, get out that muddler and muddle well. You want to make sure to get as much of the juice from the strawberry as possible. Add in optional mint leaves (or other seasonal herbs like lavender or basil), if you like, and muddle lightly.
Next, add bourbon or whiskey, ice, and shake for 10-12 seconds. Once the tin is very cold, strain the cocktail into a rocks glass with ice and garnish with mint and a strawberry. While a classic whiskey smash might be an open pour, I like to make sure I can sip the strawberry bourbon smash through a straw if I want so I do strain mine.
You might as well make two. If anyone tastes it they are going to want one as well.
Other Whiskey Smashes and Sours You Might Enjoy
- Pineapple Peach Smash
- Tequila Blueberry Smash
- Blueberry Bourbon Smash
- Blueberry Rhubarb Smash
- Strawberry Rhubarb Smash
- Strawberry Basil Smash
- Coffee Cherry Smash
- Pineapple Tiki Smash
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Strawberry Whiskey Smash
- 3 Strawberries, muddled
- ½ lemon, quartered
- 1 oz strawberry simple syrup
- 2 oz bourbon
- Optional: 8 mint leaves
- Garnish: mint and strawberries
- Add strawberries, lemon, and simple in the bottom of a shaking tin and muddle well.
- Add optional mint leaves and bourbon or whiskey and muddle briefly.
- Fill with ice and shake for 10-12 seconds.
- Strain into a rocks glass with ice and garnish with strawberries and mint (if using).