There are plenty of evergreens on the list of popular Whiskey cocktails like the Whiskey Sour, Old Fashioned, and the Manhattan cocktail. But none of these excellent sips is as refreshing as the Whiskey Smash.
Smash cocktails and Juleps are closely related. To be precise, the Smash is a subtype of a common Julep. And like his cousin, a proper Whiskey Smash contains a good amount of mint and lots of ice.
What is a Smash Cocktail?
In a nutshell, a Smash cocktail requires base spirit, ice, one herbal, and one fruity element. The base of a Smash can vary. In the past, Brandy and Whiskey have been most common. Today, the crowd-favorite representative might be the Gin Basil Smash.
The template of Smash cocktails dates back to the middle of the 19th century. Most likely, the drink was invented in the 1840s and reached its peak in popularity a decade later.
Smash cocktails are closely related to Juleps. The thing that tells them apart is only the addition(seasonal) of fruit and the slightly more aggressive approach when muddling the mint makes when making a Smash.
The renaissance of the Whiskey Smash
Smash cocktails were super popular in the 19th century. However, at some point, the tangy cocktail became forgotten. At least until Dale DeGroff reintroduced the traditional Smash template in New York City.
When DeGroff worked at Rainbow Room in NYC, he began serving his take on the classic Whiskey Smash to reintroduce this classic cocktail to his guests.
Apparently, the reason was that he became tired of serving Mint Juleps and searched for something similar but more refreshing. That led to his popular Whiskey Smash recipe, which includes Bourbon, mint, muddled lemon, and lots of ice.
DeGroff himself states that the Whiskey Smash is a perfect cocktail for people that are non-Whiskey drinkers.
The rather sweet taste of Bourbon in combination with lemon and mint makes this cocktail so easygoing that even the strongest Whiskey haters might enjoy it.
Variations on the recipe
Smash cocktails, in general, are a quite loosely defined category of drinks. So, for a Whiskey Smash, there's room for interpretation.
Bourbon is the traditional base for this cocktail. But you can also try Irish Whiskey, Canadian Whisky, Scotch, or Rye if you like a spicy kick in your drinks.
Furthermore, you could also replace the lemons in the recipe with another fruit.
Smashes are known to incorporate seasonal fruit. So depending on the time of the year, you can, for instance, use strawberries, raspberries, or cranberries in the recipe.
Another elegant twist is replacing the sweetener. In the standard recipe, simple syrup brings a bit of sweetness to the cocktail. Instead, you can go with Maple syrup or a seasonal sweetener like cranberry syrup.
- 2 oz Bourbon
- 3 Lemon wedges (or approx. 0.75oz lemon juice)
- 0.75 oz Simple syrup
- 1 splash Lemon juice
- 8-10 Mint leaves
- 1 Sprig of mint (for garnish)
- Put lemon wedges into a cocktail shaker and muddle them to release juice and oils.
- Add Bourbon, syrup, and mint leaves together with ice. Add an additional splash of fresh lemon juice for an extra kick of acidity.
- Shake for 15 seconds or until the drink is well-chilled.
- Now, double strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass.
- Garnish with a sprig of mint.
More Whiskey cocktails
- Whiskey Sour - Probably the most popular Whiskey cocktail right now. There are also plenty of variations like the New York Sour and Continental Sour.
- Old Fashioned cocktail - one of the oldest and most easy-to-make cocktails. Traditionally, the drink calls for a base spirit, sugar cube, and Angostura bitters.
- Manhattan cocktail - A classic and sophisticated three-ingredient cocktail based on Whiskey.
- Japanese Highball - A popular drink in Japan made with Japanese Whisky.
- Boulevardier - The Whiskey based version of a Negroni.