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5-Minute Blackberry Bourbon Smash (No Simple Syrup)

4.5 stars (201 ratings)

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This 5-minute blackberry bourbon smash is part mojito and part mint julep. Made from fresh or frozen Oregon blackberries muddled with lime, basil, and sugar, this cocktail works for any season – no simple syrup required! With over a hundred 5-star ratings, this reader favorite is a refreshing twist on the classic whiskey smash.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Oregon Berries. All opinions are 100% mine.

A close up shot of a blackberry smash cocktail with lime, basil, and blackberries on the side.

5-Minute Whiskey Smash

This blackberry bourbon smash is my non-traditional take on the classic whiskey smash. With over a hundred 5-star reviews and 6,000+ shares on Pinterest, my readers agree that this cocktail is a favorite for good reason.

I’ve swapped mint for basil, lemon for lime, and thrown in a handful of frozen blackberries for good measure. With sugar instead of simple syrup, this recipe is faster to make and tastes better too. (More on that later.)

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 in front of a fireplace on a chilly winter’s night or on a patio during a hot summer day. It really is as versatile as it is delicious.

Ingredients for making a blackberry bourbon smash: blackberries, lime, basil, bourbon, sugar, and ice.

Oregon Blackberries

I had the pleasure of collaborating with my friends over at Oregon Blackberries to bring you another blackberry recipe inspired by my favorite homegrown fruit.

Like most of my blackberry 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, but 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.

Tools used for making a blackberry smash: cocktail shaker, strainer, and muddler.

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Bar 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 my current favorite is a glass version with built-in measurements and a lid that doesn’t stick.

Pro Tip:

Don’t rely on the strainer in the top of the shaker.
The berries will clog it, leaving you with a mess.

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, the strainer 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.

A blackberry bourbon smash next to blackberries and spilled sugar.

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 in just five minutes. 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.

Sugar

We use plain white sugar in this cocktail rather than simple syrup. Since this cocktail gets muddled and then shaken, there is plenty of action going on to help dissolve the sugar. More importantly, the abrasiveness of the sugar helps to draw out the oils from the lime and mint during muddling, something you won’t get from using simple syrup. 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.

Bourbon Whiskey

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 I would serve in this cocktail at my house.

If you don’t like bourbon, you probably won’t like this cocktail, and that’s okay! Swap out the bourbon for rum, gin, or vodka, or try a raspberry mojito or blackberry gin and tonic instead.

Club Soda

Club soda, seltzer, bubble water, 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 it’s 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.

Ice

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 dilute it further with tiny cubes.

A blackberry cocktail on a brown cocktail napkin with a dark background.

How to Make a Blackberry Bourbon Smash

To make this cocktail, simply add the sugar, basil leaves, blackberries, and bourbon to the bottom of your cocktail shaker. Squeeze in most of the lime juice, then toss the rind into the shaker too. Muddle them together for a few seconds to break up the berries, dissolve the sugar, and release the oils in the lime rind and basil leaves.

Fill both the shaker and a 10 to 12-ounce glass with ice. Close up the shaker and shake to thoroughly combine, then strain it into the ice-filled glass. Top it off with bubble water, then garnish as desired. Enjoy carefully!

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A close up shot of a blackberry smash cocktail with lime, basil, and blackberries on the side.

5-Minute Blackberry Bourbon Smash (No Simple Syrup)

This 5-Minute blackberry bourbon smash is part mojito and part mint julep. Made from fresh or frozen Oregon blackberries muddled with lime, basil, and sugar, this cocktail works for any season – no simple syrup required! With over a hundred 5-star ratings, this reader favorite is a refreshing twist on the classic whiskey smash.
4.5 stars (201 ratings)
prep: 5 minutes
total: 5 minutes
servings: 1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • In a cocktail shaker, add sugar, basil leaves, blackberries, and bourbon. Squeeze in the juice from the lime, then toss the rind into the shaker as well. Muddle to break up the berries, release the oil in the basil and lime, and dissolve the sugar.
  • Add a generous amount of ice to the shaker, then 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.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1Calories: 187kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 1gSodium: 2mgFiber: 3gSugar: 11g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.

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For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the Blackberry Bourbon Smash Story.

About Renee N Gardner

I'm the recipe developer, food photographer, and mastermind behind Renee Nicole's Kitchen, where I help create kitchen confidence to inspire home cooks to become home chefs. No fancy fads here, just high-quality, homemade recipes featuring seasonal ingredients.

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4 Comments on “5-Minute Blackberry Bourbon Smash (No Simple Syrup)”

  1. 5 stars
    This is a great drink that allows the bourbon or whisky flavors shine through.
    The only change I make is to use demerra sugar (or raw sugar) instead.

    Reply
    • Timothy

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t made it with raw sugar as the crystals take much longer to dissolve than the fine grains in granulated sugar. Any tips on getting it to dissolve faster?

      Renee

      Reply
  2. 5 stars
    We will typically drink an old fashioned or I’ll take my bourbon whiskey neat and my husband takes his on the rocks, but he wanted something different and we had blackberries at home so I tried this. I didn’t have basil but the drink worked out anyway… So much so that he asked for a couple more.. haha. This was during Christmas and I thought about it again today so I’m going to get some basil and try it out with it.

    Reply

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