The Basics History & Trends

Behind the Bar: Summer Whiskey Cocktails

Ten years ago, I was working at the Blackbird Bar in midtown Manhattan and was trying to get a guest to like whiskey. The challenge inspired me to create the Whiskey Peach Smash—a chilly combination of bourbon, peaches, mint and lemon. Not only did the customer love the drink, it also made me realize that whiskey isn’t just a winter libation.

For many people, the Mint Julep that they have on Derby Day in May is their last venture into brown spirits until the next winter’s Manhattans. But just because the temperature rises doesn’t mean you should banish your whiskies to the back of the liquor cabinet. In fact, bourbon and rye cocktails like the Ward 8 and the Whiskey Sour were served all year historically.

But what kind of whiskey works best in a cool summer drink? Most bartenders have come to the conclusion, after wrestling with Scotch, that sweeter American whiskey is more cocktail friendly. I love Scotch, but at the same time it is great to see leading bartenders around the world embracing American straight whiskies, especially in mixed drinks. Mixability is one reason that brands like Four Roses Bourbon and Rittenhouse Rye continue to grow in popularity.

So dig out your bourbon bottles and cool down with my Whiskey Peach Smash and Hawaiian Stone Sour.

Whiskey Peach Smash

Contributed by: Dale DeGroff


  • 1 Small peach, pitted and cut into quarters
  • 2 Lemon wedges
  • 1 oz Special syrup*
  • 1.5 oz Bourbon
  • 1 Mint sprig
  • Garnish: Mint sprig and peach slice
  • Glass: Rocks


Muddle the peach and lemon in a shaker with the special syrup. Add the bourbon, mint sprig and ice, and shake well. Double strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and a peach slice.

*Special Syrup

Combine one part honey syrup (2 parts honey mixed with 1 part water) and two parts agave syrup (2 parts agave nectar mixed with 1 part water).

Hawaiian Stone Sour

Contributed by: Dale DeGroff


  • 1.5 oz Bourbon
  • .75 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • .75 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
  • 1 oz Unsweetened pineapple juice
  • Garnish: Pineapple slice and cherry
  • Glass: Old fashioned


Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a pineapple slice and a cherry.

Master mixologist Dale DeGroff is the author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail. He is also a advisor.