Summertime evokes images of tropical umbrella drinks filled with rum, the same old pina colada, or calorie laden fruit punch. Margaritas and daiquiris are classic beach/poolside libations, but if you’re finding yourself searching for a taste sensation, I highly recommend trying a light, refreshing cocktail made with bourbon, or rye.
One of my favorite drinks year round is Maker’s Mark bourbon, and diet ginger ale. It’s light, bubbly, and less calories than most mixed drinks. For extra flavor you might try mixing it with ginger beer. Add a splash of Cointreau, grenadine, fruit juice, or muddle with citrus fruits such as blood orange, lime, lemon, and garnish with maraschino cherry and/or an orange slice served in a Collins glass for a unique variation of a traditional cocktail.
Rye whisky, such as Sazerac, and my favorite, Knob Creek rye are also great whiskies for mixing delicious summer drinks, as it combines well with Absinthe, citrus, and simple syrup. There are several excellent, and easy recipes on the Knob Creek web page, such as the Rye Blackhawk which combines Knob Creek Rye with Dekupyer Sloe gin, and maraschino cherry, or the Spice of Life that combines Knob Creek Rye, white peach nectar, ginger beer, and muddled mint. Both can be chilled and strained, or served over ice in a rocks glass, a cool cocktail perfect for patio parties on warm summer evenings.
You may also be pleasantly surprised to find that most bourbons, especially those favored with maple or honey, mix well with the southern summer staples sweet tea, and lemonade. Wild Turkey American Honey is my go to for these concoctions, and they are perfect for mixing in large quantities to have a pitcher ready to greet hot, thirsty guests. Try different variations adding ginger ale, or beer, orange soda, fresh basil, mint, or rosemary, or fresh fruit such as oranges, lemons, limes, berries, peaches, or pineapple. All blend well with sweet tea, and lemonade, making it simple to create your own signature summer beverage.
Most bourbon distillers have a variety of recipes on their web pages, Woodford Reserve offers tutorial videos, Knob Creek diversity, and of course you can always count on Southern Living to provide numerous, delicious, traditional, and non-traditional bourbon cocktail recipes. The most important thing to remember, is be creative, experiment, you’ll be amazed at the variety of mixtures, and flavors that compliment bourbon, and rye. Invite your friends over for a mixing party, asking each guest to bring their favorite ingredient, or brand of whiskey. Don’t hesitate to try your favorite concoction frozen, making an already refreshing drink even more so. So, forget about that coconut rum with the fancy umbrella, and delve into the amazingly tasty world of bourbon, taking summertime sipping to a whole new level.
Always drink responsibly, designate a driver!