Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Whiskey Cocktails

16 Whiskey Cocktails That Are Perfect for Summer

These drinks make the case for sipping brown spirits year-round.

Sweet Tea Smash
Sweet Tea Smash Image:

Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

Why banish your brown spirits to the cold-weather months? Tequila, vodka, and gin seem to get all the summer love, but whiskey is the base of some of our favorite seasonal sippers like Mint Juleps and Whiskey Smashes, not to mention bourbon-spiked iced teas and refreshing highballs.

These summery bourbon and rye cocktails all prove that whiskey has a place in your drinking rotation at any time of year. 

1. Mint Julep

Mint Julep

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This refreshing combination of bourbon, muddled mint, and simple syrup might be the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, but it’s delicious any time of year…or day: It was first recorded in an 1803 book as a “dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” 

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2. Whiskey Smash

Whiskey Smash

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Smash is a more fun word for muddle in the case of this 19th-century classic, which combines bourbon with muddled lemon wedges, mint, and simple syrup. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more easygoing and delicious whiskey drink. 

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3. Lynchburg Lemonade

Lynchburg Lemonade

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Named for the Tennessee home of the Jack Daniel’s distillery, this 1980s favorite combines Tennessee whiskey, triple sec, lemon juice, simple syrup, and lemon-lime soda. The original recipe called for pre-made sour mix, but it’s best left in the ’80s, along with the lawsuit the drink inspired.

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4. Bourbon Strawberry Iced Tea

Bourbon Strawberry Iced Tea

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What’s better than iced tea on a summer day? Iced tea spiked with bourbon. Add muddled strawberries and fresh lemon juice, and you have the perfect antidote to a hot afternoon.

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5. Gold Rush

Gold Rush cocktail

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Whiskey Sour fans will love this drink’s sweet-tart flavor profile, but honey syrup lends it a lushness that makes it one-of-kind. First created at New York City’s Milk & Honey in the early aughts, the delicious mix of bourbon, honey syrup, and fresh lemon juice is indeed liquid currency.

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6. Shandy Maker

Shandy Maker cocktail

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An overproof bourbon, muddled marjoram, grapefruit and lemon juices, and simple syrup are topped with a hoppy, floral IPA for this herbaceous beer cocktail. It’s certainly more complex than your average Shandy, but its fresh and citrusy flavors make it right at home in your summer drinking repertoire. 

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7. Irish Maid

Irish Maid cocktail

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Bar pro Sam Ross created the Kentucky Maid in the early aughts, combining bourbon with lime juice, simple syrup, mint, and muddled cucumber. This variation is just as refreshing as the original: It keeps the cucumber but swaps in, of course, Irish whiskey, along with floral St-Germain liqueur and lemon juice.

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8. Northern Harvest Buck

Northern Harvest Buck

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It doesn’t get simpler than the Buck, a cocktail which combines a spirit with citrus and either ginger ale or ginger beer. This basic riff adds two dashes of Angostura bitters to a mix of rye whiskey, lime juice, and ginger beer, rendering a more complex drink for a little extra effort. 

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9. Bulldog Smash

Bulldog Smash cocktail

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This Whiskey Smash variation might be even more irresistible than the original: Muddled mint, lemon, peaches, and sugar are topped with bourbon, Cointreau, and simple syrup, rendering a fruity and delicious drink.

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10. Summer Rye

Summer Rye cocktail

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An excellent case for rye whiskey’s year-round appeal: This fruity and floral combination of the spirit, St-Germain liqueur, simple syrup, and lemon and apple juices. Topping the mix with Champagne lends the drink a festive effervescence.

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11. Bourbon Rosemary Punch

Bourbon Rosemary Punch

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Have a crowd of whiskey drinkers at your summer parties? Mix up this bittersweet and herbaceous punch, which combines rosemary-infused Aperol, bourbon, honey syrup, grapefruit juice, dry sparkling wine, and soda water.

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12. Peach Beer Julep

Peach Beer Julep

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Cocktail pro Lynnette Marrero was inspired by the stone-fruit notes in India Pale Ales to create this Mint Julep riff, which combines an IPA simple syrup with muddled peaches and bourbon. The results are, well, just peachy.

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13. Bourbon Rickey

Bourbon Rickey cocktail

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The Gin Rickey might get more attention these days, but if you want to toast its namesake you should try the original Rickey, a tart mix of bourbon, sparkling water, and fresh lime juice. It was invented in honor of Colonel Joe Rickey, a Democratic lobbyist who favored zero-sugar drinks.

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14. Coal Miner's Daughter

Coal Miner's Daughter cocktail

Willie Jane

“Floral” and “herbaceous” are often words associated with lighter spirits, but this drink puts bourbon front and center. Lemon juice, honey, ginger syrup, and a sprig of lavender also join the shaker, producing a fresh and fragrant drink.

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15. High Tide

High Tide cocktail

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A homemade green tea syrup gives this Japanese whisky highball a slightly earthy flavor. Add Cointreau, lemon juice, and tonic water, and you have a refreshing summer sipper.

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16. Sweet Tea Smash

Sweet Tea Smash

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First shaken up at New York City’s legendary Please Don’t Tell (PDT), this Whiskey Smash twist combines muddled mint and lemon, Tennessee whiskey, unsweetened iced tea, and cane syrup, plus the Italian liqueur Strega, which lends an unexpected herbaceousness to the mix.

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