Spike Lemonade With Bourbon For A Boozy Take On A Refreshing Favorite

Forget Tom Collins. Mixologists know that dark-colored spirits are a powerful tool, and should be treated with proportionate discretion. But when it comes to lemonade, bourbon lends a dimensional flavor profile that you miss with clear liquors like vodka, gin, and tequila. The dawn of bourbon lemonade has arrived.

No need to break the bank with your spirit budget here. Just opt for a budget-friendly bourbon that goes down smooth — and pay attention to your bourbon's tasting notes. Vanilla, fruit, and honey are common top notes for the spirit and will pair particularly well with sweet-citrusy lemonade. Steer clear of smoky, woody, spice-forward bourbons for this bright bevy. Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a mid-priced bottle ($35.99 via Drizly) with top notes of vanilla, molasses, dark fruit, and mint that would complement lemonade. Start with 1 ½ ounces of bourbon per 4 ounces of lemonade and adjust to taste from there. A Highball or Old Fashioned glass works best for this cocktail.

This straightforward two-parter is reminiscent of the Gold Rush cocktail, which combines bourbon, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and honey syrup. You could also elevate your bourbon lemonade with brown sugar and club soda, instantly creating a fizzy mouthfeel and depth. A little triple sec would also round out the profile with some tart balance. For a sweet finish, you could rim the glass with sugar (or even floral sugar) and scrape a little fresh vanilla bean into the mix.

This stripped-down sipper is mature yet accessible

Feel free to flex a little creativity and add other flavorful additions, like mint, macerated peaches, lemon wheels, blackberries, or maraschino cherries. If you're feeling fancy, this is a great opportunity to whip out the floral bitters or fresh aromatics like lavender, plum, or honeysuckle. You could even add a splash of sherry into the mix for a boozy kick.

For effortless entertaining, you could whip up some sweet-tart strawberry bourbon lemonade. To assemble, muddle a few strawberries in the bottom of a glass, fill with ice, top with the bourbon and lemonade, and stir. This sipper is also super easy to batch, making it great for crowds at picnics and pool parties. For batching, just skip the maceration and pop a few fresh strawberries into your pitcher.

You could also just make a large batch of lemonade and set out a bottle of bourbon and some fresh garnishes on the table at your party. That way, guests can serve themselves as they please and add as much bourbon to their glass as they like — or none at all! While there's nothing quite like homemade lemonade, store-bought or even hydrated powdered drink mix both get the job done here to help save on prep time. If you go this route, just be sure to select a store-bought lemonade that isn't overly sweet so as not to throw off the balance of your complex cocktail.