Stay cool this summer with a blackberry bourbon smash in hand! You’ll just love how that sweet, smooth bourbon gets a refreshing makeover from those tart blackberries, fresh mint, lemon and bubbly club soda topping. Now let’s find a comfortable seat on the patio with good company by your side and sip this fruity bourbon cocktail all summer long.
What Is a Smash Cocktail?
A smash cocktail includes a spirit, herb, sugar or syrup, and seasonal fruit. For this drink, we’re obviously using fresh berries as well as lemon, but you can use so many other fruits.
In fact, I have recipes for a cherry bourbon smash, blueberry bourbon smash, peach bourbon smash and even a cranberry bourbon smash for the holidays. If you love this whiskey smash recipe, make sure you also put those drinks on your cocktail list. They’re all a delight.
The other key distinction is that we muddle our ingredients together. From time to time, I’ve come across smash recipes that don’t include muddling.
While it might be a tasty drink, it’s not a smash. Muddling means we’re literally smashing our drink. So there you have it.
If you’re a cocktail history buff, Imbibe Magazine has a great article on the story behind the bourbon smash. Make sure you check that out for some fun cocktail trivia.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Made for blackberry lovers: We get a double dose of blackberry flavor here. One comes from the muddled blackberries and the other is our blackberry simple syrup. This is pure blackberry bliss.
Tastes like it came from a fine craft cocktail bar: I bet you love sipping on a craft cocktail at an upscale bar as much as I do, but boy, cocktail prices sure have gone up over the years. With this recipe, you can make a perfectly crafted cocktail from the comfort of your own kitchen for a fraction of the cost.
Includes a pitcher option: Who doesn’t love a good pitcher recipe for parties? It makes your bartending duties so much simpler.
Ingredients and Bar Tools
Bourbon: I always recommend using the best bourbon that fits your budget. By no means do you need to grab the most expensive bottle. A good mid-range bourbon works well.
Blackberries: Feel free to use either frozen or fresh blackberries. Just make sure you thaw the frozen blackberries first for easy muddling.
Blackberry simple syrup: You can buy blackberry simple syrup, but I highly recommend making your own blackberry cocktail syrup, and we’ll walk through the process. The flavor is just so much better, and we only need three minimal ingredients: water, white sugar and blackberries.
Lemon: We’re using the whole lemon, not just lemon juice here.
Mint: Use a fresh mint sprig. Dried mint is no good here — we always want fresh herbs for a proper smash.
Club soda: This is what gives us that effervescent finish. For a touch of spice, you could substitute club soda for ginger beer or ginger ale.
Bar tools: We need a cocktail shaker, Hawthorne strainer, jigger and muddler.
Prepare the Blackberry Simple Syrup
We can’t make our drink without first preparing our blackberry simple syrup, so let’s start there.
Step 1: We add those sweet blackberries, water and sugar to a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the blackberry mixture to a boil (photo 1). As it boils, we want to stir the mixture every so often to dissolve the sugar.
Step 2: After the syrup comes to a boil, we turn off the heat and mash the berries (photo 2). For more fruity flavor, we let the syrup steep for at least 15 minutes.
Step 3: Now we strain the syrup in a fine-mesh sieve (photo 3). The liquid is our syrup.
Mix the Drink
With our syrup ready, we’re ready to mix this delicious cocktail.
Step 1: We start by muddling the blackberries, lemon wedges and blackberry simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Once the lemon and blackberries break down, we add the fresh mint leaves and lightly muddle it a few times (photo 4). Mint can turn bitter if it’s overworked, which is why we want to muddle it after crushing the lemons since they require more effort.
Step 2: Now we add the bourbon whiskey and a handful of fresh ice cubes to the muddled blackberries, secure the top and shake vigorously (photo 5). About 15-30 seconds is perfect.
Step 3: From here, we replace the cocktail shaker top with a Hawthorne strainer and strain the bourbon mixture into an ice-filled rocks glass (photo 6).
Step 4: For the perfect finishing touch, we top our new favorite bourbon drink with a splash of club soda and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint on the side of the serving glass (photo 7).
That’s it, friends! We’re now ready to sip on a perfectly fruity cocktail. Isn’t it refreshing on a hot summer day?
How to Prepare in a Pitcher
For the perfect party drink, let’s review how you can make a pitcher of bourbon smashes.
- Instead of a cocktail shaker, we muddle the blackberries, lemon wedges and blackberry syrup on the bottom of a large pitcher and then muddle the mint on top.
- We pour in the bourbon. At this point, we can cover and refrigerate the mixture for a few hours. As it chills, the mint may discolor, but we can always replace it with fresh mint before serving.
- When everyone is ready for a drink, we gently stir in the club soda. We don’t want to do this in advance because we’ll lose those lovely bubbles.
You can find the exact ingredient proportions in the notes section of the recipe card.
You might be surprised to hear that a smash is a julep, but a julep isn’t necessarily a smash. Both include a spirit, sweetener and herb, but a smash is different in that it must also include a fruit.
That said, a julep can still include fruit, like in my blackberry mint julep. There are still quite a few differences between the two recipes, though. My blackberry julep uses less syrup and loads of crushed ice while it does not include a club soda topping or lemon. The julep is also built right in the glass as opposed to shaking and straining.
You can find a high-quality bourbon from so many distilleries. Some of my favorite reliable bourbons at affordable price points come from Maker’s Mark, Elijah Craig, Four Roses, Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve. If you’d like even more inspiration, check out this list of best bourbons for mixing.
Absolutely, you can use your favorite whiskey instead of Kentucky bourbon. Just keep in mind that the different types of whiskey have their own flavor profiles. For instance, rye whiskey would add spicy notes while an Irish whiskey would give you a more delicate flavor and ultra smooth finish.
A smash is typically served in a double old fashioned glass. A single old fashioned glass has room for 6-8 ounces, but a double old fashioned glass typically holds 12-14 ounces. This gives you plenty of room for ice.
Variations and Substitutions
- Not a whiskey fan? Use your spirit of choice. You can turn this into a tequila, rum, gin or vodka smash.
- If you don’t have time to make the blackberry syrup, you can substitute regular simple syrup, or you could even use another flavored syrup, such as my ginger syrup or rosemary syrup. Real maple syrup also works nicely.
- Substitute blackberries for another berry variety or even a mix of berries.
- Swap the mint for another herb, such as fresh basil or thyme.
- Use fresh lime wedges instead of lemon — that extracted lime juice is just as tasty.
- Make it a mocktail by using a zero-proof bourbon.
- Give it a spicy kick and muddle a couple slices of jalapeño with the berries and lemon.
Do not add the club soda to the cocktail shaker: Shaking makes carbonated beverages go flat.
Place the lemon wedges cut-side up: I find it’s much easier to break down the lemon when you muddle against the pulp instead of the tougher peel.
Clap the mint before garnishing: Place the mint sprig in the palm of one hand and quickly clap the other hand on top. This releases the mint’s fragrance to make every sip even more enjoyable.
Use a wooden spoon if a muddler isn't available: While a muddler is more efficient because of the larger surface area, you can use a wooden spoon to crush the berries, lemon and mint.
Store the blackberry syrup in the refrigerator in an airtight container: With proper storage, it should last two to three weeks. You need to make a new batch once it turns cloudy.
Pork is the perfect accompaniment with this blackberry smash. As a sweeter meat, it plays nicely with the caramel and vanilla notes of the bourbon.
For your next happy hour, you’ll love this fresh blackberry bourbon smash recipe. With those jammy berries, pop of fresh mint and citrus, and sweet bourbon, this drink was made for summer sipping on the patio.
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Blackberry Bourbon Smash
- Cocktail shaker
- Jigger or small measuring cup
- Hawthorne or cocktail strainer
Blackberry Simple Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup blackberries
Blackberry Bourbon Smash
- ½ lemon cut into wedges
- ¼ cup blackberries
- 1 ounce blackberry simple syrup
- 8-10 fresh mint leaves
- 2 ounces bourbon
- Splash of chilled club soda
- Fresh mint sprig for garnish
Blackberry Simple Syrup
- Combine the water, white sugar and blackberries in a small saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring to a simmer and then a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
- Once the mixture boils and the sugar dissolves, turn off the heat. Use a potato masher or fork to break down the blackberries. Let the mixture steep for at least 15 minutes and up to an hour.
- Place a bowl or measuring cup under a fine-mesh sieve or strainer. Strain the blackberries from the liquid and discard the solids. The liquid is your simple syrup. Allow to cool and then store in a sterile, airtight container in the refrigerator.
Blackberry Bourbon Smash
- Add the lemon wedges cut-side up, blackberries and blackberry simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Muddle until the berries and lemon wedges break down. Add the mint leaves and lightly muddle a few times. Don't overwork the mint, or it can turn bitter — just a few twists will do.
- Pour in the bourbon and add a handful of ice. Secure the cocktail shaker top and shake vigorously for 15-30 seconds.
- Replace the cocktail shaker top with the Hawthorne strainer. Strain the drink into an ice-filled double old fashioned glass.
- Top with the chilled club soda. Stir gently to combine. Place the mint sprig in the palm of one hand and quickly clap over it with the other hand and place it on the side of the glass. This releases the mint’s fragrance to make for an even more delightful drinking experience. Enjoy!
- The syrup will last two to three weeks if stored properly. When it turns cloudy, it's time for a new batch.
- You can use fresh or frozen blackberries for both the syrup and drink. For the syrup, you don't need to thaw the blackberries, but you'll want to thaw them for the drink.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.