A smash is a style of cocktail where some of the ingredients – often fruit or herbs – are smashed in the bottom of the glass to release their flavors, just as the name suggests. A julep would actually fall under the umbrella of a smash, as the mint is muddled before other ingredients are added to the cocktail, but citrus fruit is also commonly used in smashes. When you muddle citrus, you not only extract the juice from the fruit, but also some of the oils from the peel, yielding a more flavorful cocktail.
This Ginger Bourbon Smash is a summery drink that was inspired by a batch of ginger-infused lemonade. The drink starts with lemon wedges, which are muddled to release their juice and oils, then bourbon, ginger liqueur, simple syrup and mint are added and everything is shaken together. The finished drink has a wonderful lemon aroma, a nice sweetness and a bite of spicy ginger. Since the mint is shaken and not muddled, it gives the drink a very refreshing note without dominating the other flavors. It’s a grown up lemonade, but it’s a good one!
There are a couple of ginger liqueurs out there to choose from and I used Domaine de Canton here. The liqueur has a nice blend of fresh ginger flavor and sweetness. Though it has nothing to do with flavor, the bottle is beautiful, so I love just having it up on the shelf in my bar! I have used Four Roses bourbon and Maker’s Mark for batches of this drink, though almost any bourbon you might have on hand will work well.
Ginger Bourbon Smash
1/2 of a medium lemon, cut into 4-5 wedges
1 oz bourbon
1 oz ginger liqueur (such as Domain de Canton)
3/4 oz simple syrup
5 mint leaves
Place the lemon wedges in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker and muddle firmly, until all of the lemon juice has been released. Add all remaining ingredients, fill with ice and shake vigorously until cold, about 15 seconds. Strain into a glass filled with ice* and garnish with a sprig of mint.
*I prefer using crushed ice in this drink to make it even colder. If your refrigerator doesn’t have a crushed ice setting, simply pile some ice in a clean dish towel and firmly crush with a rolling pin. Cubed ice can be used, as well.