Blackberry bourbon smash is part mojito and part mint julep, with a citrusy blackberry basil twist. Made from fresh or frozen Oregon blackberries, this cocktail works for any season. It’s a refreshing twist on a timeless classic. Hard to put down and a perfect way for whiskey lovers to unwind after a long day.
One of my favorite cocktails, this blackberry bourbon smash is my non-traditional take on the classic whiskey smash. I’ve swapped mint for basil, lemon for lime, and thrown in a handful of frozen blackberries for good measure.
What you get is a light and refreshing fruity cocktail with the underlying body and depth of flavor only found in properly aged bourbon whiskey.
That careful balance means you can enjoy this one on in front of a fire place on a chilly winter’s night or on a patio during a hot summer day. It really is as versatile as it is delicious.
Once again I have the pleasure of collaborating with my friends over at Oregon Blackberries to bring you another blackberry recipe inspired by my favorite home grown fruit.
Like most of my other recipes, this one is designed to use either fresh or frozen Oregon blackberries. I personally prefer this one with frozen berries. Not just because I keep a bag of them in my freezer at all times. It’s also because those frozen berries were picked at the peak of the season. As they thaw they add a level of sweetness not found in off season fresh berries.
Don’t live in Oregon? Check your freezer section anyway! You may be surprised to learn that over 90% of all US grown, frozen blackberries found in freezer sections across the country come from Oregon. Learn more at Oregon-Berries.com.
Special Tools for a Blackberry Bourbon Smash
To make this blackberry cocktail at home you’ll need a couple of special tools, a cocktail shaker, strainer, and muddler. If you make cocktails often, you should have these in your collection already, but if not I’ll go over them briefly.
Let’s start with the cocktail shaker. A necessity for all shaken cocktails, like a raspberry mojito, a cocktail shaker allows you to quickly incorporate and rapidly chill your ingredients. Shaped like a large glass with a fitted lid, they are most often made of metal, which better conducts the cold, but you can also find them in glass.
Often sold as a set with a shaker is our second tool: the cocktail strainer. The strainer fits just inside the rim of the shaker, allowing you to pour out the liquid and leave any solids behind. Great for filtering out the citrus rinds in a Cadillac margarita, in this cocktail it helps remove the basil, lime, and hunks of blackberry that even when muddled don’t break up completely.
Which brings us to the muddler. The muddler is long enough to comfortably reach the bottom of a shaker or glass. It lets you press out the juices and oils of fruits, herbs, and other aromatics. A requirement for making a mint julep, the muddler is kind of like the pestle part of a mortar and pestle.
Blackberry Bourbon Smash Ingredients
With seven ingredients including the ice, this blackberry cocktail may seem like a lot, but I promise it’s uncomplicated and easy to throw together. What makes it better is that all the ingredients are easy to source any time of the year. In fact, they are things that I keep in my kitchen on a regular basis.
We use plain white sugar in this cocktail rather than a simple syrup. Since this cocktail gets muddled then shaken, there is plenty of action going on to help dissolve the sugar. More importantly the abrasives of the sugar helps to draw out the oils from the lime and mint during muddling. Adjust the sugar to taste based on the sweetness of your berries.
Basil, Lime, Blackberries
A lot of the flavor and aromatics come from the basil, lime, and blackberry. Use fresh basil, fresh lime, and frozen blackberries for best results. The muddling process breaks down the berries and lime, releasing their juices, while drawing out the flavor from the lime rind and the basil.
The only swap I would make without compromising the drink is to trade frozen blackberries for fresh. If your berries are falling apart ripe the drink will be amazing. If not you may need a pinch more sugar and a little more work with the muddler to get all the flavor.
Whether it’s bourbon, whiskey, or bourbon whiskey, pick the one you like and it will taste great. Being from Kentucky I am partial to Kentucky bourbon and typically have a bottle of Woodford Reserve on hand, which is what you’ll find in this cocktail at my house.
I hate to say it, but if you don’t like bourbon you probably won’t like this cocktail. That’s fine, as it tastes pretty good with rum, gin, or vodka too! Granted that makes it a totally different cocktail, but it’s homemade and should be made to please your palate!
Club soda, soda water, seltzer, whatever you want to call it this is the ingredient that keeps this blackberry cocktail from being strong enough to knock you on your rear, while also adding a bit of fizzy fun. We add the club soda along with the ice after the muddling, just before its shaken and poured.
If using a homemade soda maker, like a Soda Stream, make the water a bit fizzier than you would if drinking it plain. I drink plain seltzer at about a level 1, but dial it up to a 3 for cocktails.
Nothing fancy here! Plain ice from the ice maker or trays in your freezer will do just fine. Take note that you need enough to fill both the shaker and the serving glass.
If you want to get extra fancy, you can make ice with distilled water (for that crystal clear look) but it’s totally not necessary. The one thing I wouldn’t do is use crushed ice, as the smaller the cubes the faster it melts. Since this drink calls for shaking with ice, adding club soda, and serving over ice, you shouldn’t need to further dilute it with tiny cubes.
Recommended Kitchen Tools
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Blackberry Bourbon Smash Recipe
Blackberry bourbon smash: sweet blackberries, tart lime juice, and a hint of basil shaken with your favorite bourbon whiskey for a refreshing twist on a timeless classic. A blackberry cocktail created for those who love bourbon whiskey. Mix up one tonight.
Not quite the treat you were looking for today? See all of my tasty cocktail creations or scroll just past the recipe to see more great ideas featuring Oregon blackberries.
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- 2 - 3 tsp sugar
- 3 - 4 basil leaves
- 1/2 lime
- 1/4 cup frozen blackberries
- 2 ounces bourbon whiskey
- ice cubes
- 2 ounces club soda
- In a cocktail shaker combine sugar, basil leaves, lime, blackberries, and bourbon. Muddle to break up the berries, basil, and lime, and to dissolve the sugar.
- Add a generous amount of ice, shake to chill and combine.
- Fill an old fashioned glass ice. Strain cocktail over ice, top off with club soda. Garnish with additional basil, berries, and lime if desired. Enjoy immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 187Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 3gSugar: 11gProtein: 1g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.
For the step by step version of this recipe, check out the Blackberry Bourbon Smash Story.