A whiskey or bourbon cocktail perfect for the late summer and early fall. This blackberry bourbon smash is fresh and vibrant with a distinct flavor of both bourbon and blackberries. It is fantastically easy to make and I can guarantee you will want to make another!
For more sweet and tart cocktail recipes, I can totally recommend the rhubarb Moscow mule, the lavender bee's knees, the Sugar Plum Fairy's cocktail, and the classic mojito, of course. Head over to my cocktails category for the latest!
Why you’ll love this recipe
If you like whiskey or bourbon drinks, this is a drink for you. You can really taste the subtle flavors and sweetness of the bourbon. Oh, and if whiskey drinks are your thing, check out these whiskey cocktails too.
You will also like this bourbon smash if you like blackberries, or fruity cocktails. It is fruitilicious and you can really taste the blackberries. Make sure you also check out the blackberry martini if that is the case.
So in summary, this cocktail is sweet and tart with clear flavors of both blackberries and bourbon, so if that sounds like something you would like - this is something you would like.
In addition, it is also a cocktail with minimal ingredients needed, minimal equipment needed, and minimal expertise required.
- Lemon - to provide tartness and brightness to the cocktail. Lemon and whiskey/bourbon are AMAZING together, which is why I love this whiskey sour and the Penicillin as well.
- Thyme - it is woodsy and slightly floral and I think it's so good when paired with the sweetness from the blackberries and maple syrup. Omit if you find it too weird. But trust me, I've also used it in this Sugar Plum Fairy Cocktail!
- Blackberries - something is enchanting about blackberries. They are sweet, tart, and so juicy, with slightly earthy undertones. If you like blackberries in cocktails, check out my Halloween cocktail - the blackberry martini.
- Maple syrup - some added sweetness. How much you want to add depends on the sweetness of the blackberries, but the caramel-like notes of maple syrup (or honey) are stellar in combination with bourbon and with blackberries!
- Bourbon - or whiskey. One of my all-time favorite spirits in combination with lemon and maple syrup or honey. I always use Jim Beam's Kentucky Bourbon, but you can choose whatever. However, use this bourbon flavor map if you want to find something similar to Jim Beam. Look for a delicate and very mildly spicy bourbon. If you want to find a sustainable brand, find your sustainable brand here.
Add lemon wedges and muddle to a cocktail shaker until juices are released (1-2). Add herbs and blackberries and muddle a few times more (3-5).
Then, add maple syrup and bourbon and fill the shaker with ice (6). Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass or your favorite cocktail glass, and top with crushed ice.
Garnish with more blackberries and thyme or just a mint sprig to keep it classic.
What makes a drink a smash?
So first; a little history of the smash.
A smash has been popular for over a century, though not always mentioned by name. According to Imbibe Magazine, there is only one rule: A smash is always a julep, but a julep is not always a smash.
In 1862, Jerry Thomas lays the foundation with the definition of the julep. He acknowledges that there are many delicious variations of this drink, but that his julep is made from mint, sugar, ice, and equal parts peach and brandy.
And if you want to try a classic julep (that is not a smash) and a fancy-schmancy pink pepper julep, don't hesitate to get my 99 Summer Drinks e-book!
In 1888, Harry Johnson mentions the smash by name. To him, it is the fruits in season and not necessarily peach. The other ingredients include mint, whiskey, sugar, and ice.
The elements of a smash are a spirit base, ice, sugar, herbs, and seasonal fruit. It appears to be amazingly flexible, even in history. It seems that whiskey or bourbon is the most common, as well as mint for the herb.
What makes a drink a smash is that we use whole, seasonal fruits which we smash or muddle with the remaining ingredients.
For example, here we use whole lemon wedges and blackberries, though in a whiskey sour we simply add freshly squeezed lemon juice.
What does a bourbon smash taste like?
A classic bourbon smash tastes fresh, tart, and sweet with a bourbon aftertaste. This particular blackberry bourbon smash tastes like that + fresh and sweet blackberries with a hint of thyme.
Whiskey or bourbon? What's the difference?
Bourbon is whiskey. But so is rye. You can use both, it depends on what you want out of the cocktail. According to bartender Kenneth McCoy, bourbon is best for a whiskey sour though, because of the vanilla, honey, and caramel notes.
Considering a classic bourbon smash is quite similar to a whiskey sour's flavor profile, I'll just leave that there.
Rye is spicier, so if you like to add some extra spice - go for it! I always use Jim Beam's Kentucky Bourbon because it's cheap and delicious, but rye is also good.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a cocktail that is extremely versatile and flexible, so you can practically do whatever you want.
- But let's begin with what appears to be the classic bourbon smash: leave out the blackberries, replace the thyme with mint and replace the maple syrup with sugar (or simple syrup for ease).
- Other fruits: peach is another favorite, I would here use either maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar. Go for any seasonal fruits. Cherry, blueberry, and strawberry (+ basil instead of thyme) are all great choices. You can also leave out the lemon and go for other citruses like lime and orange.
- Other herbs: Mint is the classic choice, however, you do you. Basil is SO good with berries like strawberries and blueberries, thyme is delicious with peach, blackberries, and plum. Apricot + rosemary is also a great combination (hence this apricot rosemary gin fizz).
- Other spirits: So I do prefer bourbon for a smash, but other favorites include vodka if you want the fruits to shine. Gin has a very herbal taste, so go for that if you want the herbs to be the stars. Rum is sweeter, and tequila is great for spicy cocktails. Read more about distilled spirits here.
Let me know what variation you like, either in the comment section below or find me on Instagram. Enjoy!
Did you like this recipe? Here are more blackberry recipes I think you’d love:
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