4 refreshing bourbon cocktails for summer soirées

May 20, 2024 | A strawberry whiskey smash, just right for summer (WTOP's Rachel Nania)

WASHINGTON Bourbon is known for its powers to warm you from the inside out, but that doesn’t mean the spirit should be limited to the calendar’s colder months.

Jack Rose Dining Saloon’s head bartender, Benny Hurwitz, shares some of his favorite recipes for cool and refreshing bourbon cocktails perfect for your next backyard barbecue or summer cookout.

Bourbon in the summer? You bet Jack Rose’s Benny Hurwitz says there are a number of reasons to drink bourbon in the summer. For starters, it pairs great with food — especially items that have a bit of char from the grill. If you’re worried bourbon is too heavy for the heat, Hurwitz says there are a number of lighter bourbons out there, such as Maker’s Mark, which are “not going to be in your face with high spice or high alcohol content.” Finally, with a little bit of citrus and ice, bourbon makes a great base for a number of refreshing summer cocktails. Here are four of Hurwitz’s favorites.   (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Strawberry Whiskey Smash Ingredients
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
1 strawberry, diced
4-5 fresh mint leaves
1.5 ounces bourbon Directions
In a cocktail shaker, add in all of the ingredients, along with ice, and shake well to “smash” the flavors together. (Hint: When building a cocktail, start with the cheapest and smallest ingredients. This way, if you mess up, you’re not throwing away the good stuff.) Then, strain the ingredients into a lowball glass, filled with crushed ice. Top the drink off with a little bit more crushed ice and a mint sprig.  “It’s a good looking drink, especially for summer. It’s something that’s easy to drink, but it still tastes like a whiskey drink,” Hurwitz said.   (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
The Elder Fashioned
A sweeter spin on the classic old fashioned.  Ingredients
¾ ounce St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1.5 ounces bourbon Directions
Build this cocktail directly in a lowball glass. Add all of the ingredients into your glass, fill with cubed ice and stir for a good minute to make sure the ice melts down and mixes in with the other ingredients. “The most important ingredient in every drink is the water you get from the ice. No drink would be the same without it,” Hurwitz said.  Top the glass off with more cubed ice until it is full. Hurwitz recommends this drink for evening cookouts and parties, rather than afternoon gatherings, since it is more “spirit-forward” than the others.  (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Paper Plane  Ingredients
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce aperol
½ ounce Amaro Nonino
½ ounce bourbon Directions
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker along with ice and shake well. “The key with all of these, and most drinks with citrus, is that you’re going to want to shake them. You really want to aerate the cocktail,” Hurwitz said.  Strain the ingredients into a martini or daiquiri glass. Then, express a lemon peel over the cocktail. The result is a bright, citrus-filled drink, with contrasting complex and bitter notes. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
The Rickey
D.C.’s official cocktail Ingredients
1/2 lime
1.5 ounces bourbon
Club soda Directions
Squeeze the lime half directly into a highball glass. Once the juice is expressed, add in the peel as well. Pour in the bourbon and fill the cup with ice. Give the drink a little stir to get the ice down into the glass. Top it off with club soda and enjoy. “There’s really no sweetness; it’s just very dry and acidic,” said Hurwitz, adding that the Rickey is sometimes called “air conditioning in a glass.”  If you prefer your Rickey less tart, add in a touch of simple syrup. Want to try even more variations? On Sunday, Aug. 6, Jack Rose will host a Rickey competition with some of D.C.’s top bartenders. A ticket ($30 at the door) gets you unlimited Rickey cocktails from the finalists. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up