As winter fades away, leaves start to turn green and the weather gets warmer, many people believe it’s time to put away the whiskey and make cocktails with clear spirits like gin, vodka or tequila. Well, many people are wrong. Or as Crown Royal national brand ambassador Stephen Wilson puts it, “Whiskey isn’t a seasonal spirit. After all, it’s the changing of the seasons during maturation that help craft an exceptional whiskey.”
Whiskey in all of its forms, from bourbon and rye to scotch, Irish, Canadian and Japanese, isn’t just for cold weather. On its own, with a cube or a splash of water or in a wide variety of cocktails, it’s a refreshing spirit that can and should be enjoyed all summer long. Rob Samuels, the COO of Maker’s Mark and an eighth-generation distiller, sees bourbon in particular becoming more popular in the summer. “There’s versatility to brown spirits and brown spirit cocktails,” he says. “Take the Julep or Highball; both are great cocktails that feature refreshing ingredients—mint and club soda, respectively. It also doesn’t hurt that bourbon pairs deliciously with some of summer’s best foods, such as barbecue ribs and grilled peaches.”
Kentucky native Doug Kragel, Diageo’s American whiskey ambassador, loves to drink what he calls simple pours in the summer, such as whiskey and ginger beer, but the flavor combinations go well beyond that. “The great thing is there are so many fantastic mixologists coming out with whiskey cocktails that are a little lighter,” he says. “Whiskey goes incredibly well with citrus, a perfect summer ingredient.”
These are some whiskey cocktail recipes for the summer months that are refreshing without sacrificing the bold flavors inherent to the spirit.
1. Northern Harvest Buck
(image: Michael Hnatov)
Canadian whisky is a category that’s gaining popularity with bartenders and mixologists, and the Northern Harvest Buck highlights why. This take on the Whiskey Ginger (a.k.a the Irish Buck) adds a squeeze of lime and some bitters, which complement the slightly spicy but smooth Crown Royal Northern Harvest rye.
2. Keeneland Breeze
Bourbon and orange don’t usually go together, unless it’s a slice dropped into an Old Fashioned. But the Keeneland Breeze adds a splash of orange liqueur to a few ounces of bourbon and tops it off with some spicy, dry ginger ale to counter the sweetness.
3. Harper’s Bet
This citrus-infused cocktail takes the idea of a Manhattan and builds upon the classic. Equal parts of grenadine, lemon juice and grapefruit juice, along with some orange bitters, are combined with bourbon for a slightly sweet, slightly sour concoction.
4. Crownberry Apple
This cocktail is pretty simple—sort of like an alcoholic version of Ocean Spray Cran-Apple. Crown Royal Apple whisky and cranberry juice are combined, stirred and topped with an apple wheel in a tall tumbler filled with ice.
5. Shandy Maker
(image: Emily Wong)
Beer cocktails can be found in an increasing number of bars these days. This drink adds a hoppy IPA to 100-proof bourbon, some citrus and the kicker: muddled fresh marjoram. The result is a variety of summery flavors that blend together nicely.
6. Mint Julep
This bourbon cocktail is a classic for a reason. It’s light, refreshing and usually served in a metal cup that keeps it nice and frosty. Though strongly linked to the Kentucky Derby, this drink should be enjoyed all summer long.