This bourbon smash is made with fresh muddled fruit and herbs, bourbon, and a splash of ginger beer. It's filled with crushed ice, making it the most refreshing and delicious cocktail for all occasions.
This maple bourbon smash is warming from the cozy spices, tart from the fresh citrus, and sweet from the maple simple syrup. It covers all the bases when it comes to a balanced cocktail everyone will love.
All the fresh lemons, oranges, and crushed ice make it the most refreshing drink! We're sharing a single-serve recipe as well as a large pitcher to serve a crowd (hellooo Thanksgiving cocktail).
What is a Smash?
The most well-known smash cocktail is the mint julep made with spirits and fresh mint leaves. It's a perfect example of what a smash is all about: fresh fruit to smash, fresh herbs to muddle, and simple syrup to make it sweet, all served over crushed ice. Jerry Thomas introduced this drink as a spin-off of the traditional whiskey sour in his book "The Bartender's Guide" published in the late 1800s.
Smashes are great because they can highlight seasonal fresh ingredients, like seasonal fruit and herbs. We're using fresh citrus and rosemary in this recipe, but you can easily make it in the summer with blackberries or peaches.
Here are the key ingredients for this bourbon smash recipe and a few substitutions. Skip down to the recipe card below for exact measurements.
- Maple syrup: we love the warmth the maple syrup adds to the bourbon in this simple syrup, but you can use other natural sweeteners like agave or honey. Granulated sugar works too, just make sure it's completely dissolved.
- Spices: cinnamon sticks, star anise, and fresh ginger spice up the simple syrup and make it so cozy for fall. Leave this out if you're serving it during the summer!
- Citrus: orange wheels and lemon wedges are smashed to add fresh citrus juice to the sweet simple syrup.
- Bourbon: bourbon is a type of American whiskey. You can use any brand you like, but Kentucky bourbon is always a popular choice! Smoky bourbon adds depth and balance to this delightful cocktail.
- Orange bitters: add a few drops of these for extra citrus flavor!
- Ginger beer: we love the zing and balance this brings to this classic cocktail, but you can use ginger ale or club soda as well.
- Ice: normally we don't include water and ice in our ingredient lists, but fresh ice is a must in this recipe. You can't have a smash without crushed ice!
- Rosemary: muddling rosemary with citrus is so good in this recipe. Fresh basil or a mint sprig are also good options.
How to Make a Bourbon Smash
Here are the steps (with pictures) to make a bourbon smash at home. Jump down to the recipe card for the full recipe and to watch the video to make it with me.
- Simple syrup: add the maple syrup, water, spices, and ginger to a saucepan over medium heat and boil for 2-3 minutes. Strain out the spices and allow the simple syrup to cool slightly.
- Muddle: add the orange wheel, fresh rosemary, and equal parts orange and lemon juice to a shaker tin. Use a cocktail muddler or the back of a spoon to press the juices out of the citrus and herbs to help them infuse with the alcohol better.
- Shake the cocktail: pour the rest of the ingredients into the shaker and shake or stir well until it's completely combined.
- Serve: pour the cocktail over crushed ice and top with a bit of soda water, ginger beer, or ginger ale.
Prefer to Watch Instead of Read?
Big Batch Bourbon Smash (6 Servings)
The recipe makes a single serving, but we know you're not always drinking a cocktail alone (though we totally support that). Here are the simple steps to make a big batch of this cocktail. We've also included this information in the recipe card!
- Follow the same instructions to make the maple simple syrup (sit makes 6 servings).
- Muddle 6-8 orange wheels with fresh rosemary, ½ cup lemon juice, and ½ cup orange juice in a pitcher. Pour in 1 ½ cups of bourbon, 8-10 dashes of orange bitters, and all of the simple syrup.
Serving even more? Double the maple simple syrup and double the recipe above (step 2).
Rim the glass with spices: this cocktail would be so good with the chai sugar rim from our winter sangria recipe.
Blackberry bourbon smash: use blackberries instead of fresh orange wheels to muddle.
Peach bourbon smash: use a fresh peach instead of oranges and swap the rosemary for basil or mint.
Favorite Cocktail Products
Stock your bar with all the necessary tools to make a delicious cocktail. These are our favorite products to make several types of cocktails including our apple cider sangria and winter sangria (this section includes affiliate links).
Cocktail shaker: invest in one of these if you love bourbon cocktails. They make mixing up your cocktails so easy!
Rocks glass: serve your bourbon smash in a classic whiskey glass, often called a lowball glass. They're perfect for an old fashioned or any whiskey cocktail. We have these double old fashioned glasses (what we used in these pictures), as well as these pretty etched old fashioned glasses.
Long cocktail spoon: we use this gold bar spoon all the time. It looks pretty, stirs everything well, and even has a muddler at the end.
Pitcher: this acrylic pitcher is so pretty and functional. It's great if you're making a big batch of these (see section above) or if you're making another drink, like our apple cider sangria.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bourbon is a type of whiskey and the only alcohol recommended in a bourbon smash, where you can use any variety of whiskey (ie bourbon, scotch, etc) in a whiskey sour. Additionally, the fruit (lemon) is muddled in a smash compared to squeezed in a sour.
Use the crushed ice function on your fridge, if you have one, or throw some ice cubes in a blender and pulse a few times.
Make-Ahead and Storage Instructions
Save time as you prepare to host your party or Thanksgiving and make this in advance. Follow the instructions to make the simple syrup, muddle the fruit and mix in the bourbon. Remove the fresh fruit and store it in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Serve over crushed ice and top with your choice of bubbly drink before serving. Follow these same instructions with any leftover cocktails (without the ginger beer).
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Cocktail Recipes
Maple Bourbon Smash
Spiced Maple Simple Syrup (makes 6 servings)
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup water
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- 1-2 star anise
- 1- inch fresh ginger
Bourbon Smash (makes 1 serving)
- 1 orange wheel
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary plus a sprig for serving
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 5 drops of orange bitters
- Ginger beer or soda water for topping
- Cocktail shaker
- Bar spoon and muddler
- Cocktail glasses
- To make the maple simple syrup, pour the water, and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat then add the cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, star anise, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 2-3. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool slightly while you make the rest of the drink.
- To make the cocktail, add the orange wheel, fresh rosemary, lemon juice, and orange juice in a cocktail shaker or glass jar. Muddle the ingredients together using a muddler or the back of a spoon to release the juices. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the spiced maple syrup then store the remaining simple syrup in a glass jar with a lid in the fridge for up to 1 week (see notes to use it for a large batch). Next, pour in the bourbon and orange bitters, and shake well to combine.
- Add crushed ice to a glass then strain the drink over the ice. Top with ginger beer, ginger ale, or soda water. Gently stir and garnish with fresh fruit and rosemary.