Feeling Thirsty? Sip on Our Favorite Summer Whiskey Cocktails


Jun. 13 2023, Published 1:46 p.m. ET

Man holding a mint julep at the Kentucky Derby
Source: Getty Images

Whether you're at the pool bar or a beach resort, nothing says summer vacation quite like a tropical cocktail. And while you may usually reach for a piña colada, mojito, or frozen margarita, never underestimate the refreshing and satisfying flavors of a crisp, cool whiskey drink.

Wait, whiskey? I know you're used to sipping on a lighter liquor like tequila, gin, or vodka, but there are many delicious bourbon and rye cocktails that'll make you wish you made the switch to brooding brown spirits sooner.

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We scoured social media and rounded up some of our favorite recipes for summery whiskey cocktails to help take the edge off and cool you down on a scorching hot day. Cheers!

What exactly is whiskey?

Man and woman holding glasses of whiskey
Source: Getty Images

Whiskey is an amber-hued spirit crafted from fermented grain like rye, wheat, corn, or barley that's aged in a wooden cask before it's bottled and sent off to be sold. Most whiskeys have a minimum of 40 percent ABV, and the flavor is most often described as warm, spicy, sweet, or like caramel.

There are many different types of whiskey and each one has a distinct type of grains, place of origin, blending and aging process, characteristics, and flavor profiles.

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Here are some of the most popular types of whiskey:

  • Scotch whiskey: Smoky and peaty scotch whiskey, from Scotland, is typically made from malted barley and aged for at least three years in oak casks.
  • Irish whiskey: Irish whiskey, from Ireland, is usually triple distilled from a mix of malted and un-malted barley and tends to have a smoother and lighter flavor profile.
  • Bourbon: An American whiskey made mostly from corn (at least 51 percent), bourbon is rich and sweet and aged in new, charred oak barrels.
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  • Rye whiskey: Rye whiskey is made primarily from rye grain and can be produced in the U.S. and Canada. It tends to be spicier and drier than bourbon.
  • Tennessee whiskey: Tennessee whiskey is made primarily from corn and aged in new, charred oak barrels. It undergoes additional charcoal filtering known as the Lincoln County Process.
  • Corn whiskey: Corn whiskey must contain at least 80 percent corn. Often unaged or aged briefly in new or used uncharred oak barrels, for a light, grainy flavor.
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  • Japanese whiskey: Inspired by Scotch whiskey, Japanese whiskey has similar production methods, but can vary in flavor profiles ranging from light and delicate to rich and smoky.
  • Canadian whiskey: Produced in Canada, Canadian whiskey is often made from a blend of grains and aged in oak barrels and tends to have a smooth, light finish. There aren't any regulations regarding the minimum aging period.
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Summer whiskey cocktails to keep you cool:

Whiskey shouldn't be banished to the wintertime. Here are some of our favorite brown spirit cocktail recipes that deserve a summertime sip.

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Gold Rush

The Gold Rush is a classic whiskey-based cocktail that's a refreshing combo of sweet and sour flavors. To create your own Gold Rush cocktail, according to @driftersjoint, you only need bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, and honey syrup (or a vegan honey).

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Strawberry Smashed Whiskey

To create a Strawberry Smashed Whiskey, you'll need simple syrup, a sliced strawberry, whiskey or bourbon, lemon juice, and fresh mint leaves. After following the recipe by @thepartystartersau, top off with a mint sprig garnish.

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Bourbon Crush

A Bourbon Crush combines the richness of bourbon, the tartness of orange juice and the sweetness of Grenadine. To create your own cocktail, according to @modernmakes, you'll need bourbon, Cointreau Triple Sec, Sprite, orange juice, and Grenadine. After following the recipe, top it off with an orange wedge garnish.

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Lynchburg Lemonade

Known for its smooth, citrusy and refreshing flavor, the Lynchburg Lemonade is a grown-up version of everyone's favorite summertime quencher. To create one at home, Dr. Cork suggests you combine Tennessee whiskey, Triple Sec, simple syrup, and lemon juice. After shaking it, fill a glass with ice, strain the cocktail, and then top it off with a splash of Sprite and a lemon wedge garnish.

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Mint Julep

The signature drink of the Kentucky Debry, the Mint Julep is a refreshing bourbon cocktail that's perfect for the summer. To recreate the iconic Mint Julep, as per @thirstywhale__, you'll need to muddle 10 to 15 mint leaves with a half-ounce of simple syrup. Then add 2 ounces of your favorite bourbon, add some crushed or pebble ice, stir it up, and then top it off with a mint garnish.

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Kentucky Mule

Even though the Moscow Mule is one of the most popular cocktails in the U.S., its big brother, the Kentucky Mule, is quickly gaining traction. This tasty drink substitutes bourbon for vodka, and that's why it's uses the name "Kentucky". To make the brown spirit version, according to @moodycocktails, you need bourbon, ginger beer, lime juice, and a lime wedge as a garnish. If you own a copper cup, pour the drink in there for a classic look.

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Rye Tai

The Rye Tai is a bourbon version of everyone's favorite beachy cocktail, the Mai Tai. To create this tropical whiskey cocktail, as detailed by @thirstywhale__, you need 100 proof Rye, simple syrup, Aperol, strong Jamaican rum, and fresh lime juice. Check the TikTok for full measurements, and after combining, shake it up and pour into a frozen glass, and top it off with a few spritzes of Angostura bitters.

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Amaretto Sour

Trust us, this isn't your grandma's Amaretto Sour. To make this classic cocktail by @mycocktailbible, you'll need a chilled cocktail glass, an ounce of lemon juice, 1.5 ounces of amaretto, 3/4 ounce of cask-strength bourbon, a quarter ounce of simple syrup, five dashes of bitters, and an egg white. To make this recipe eco-friendly and vegan, try replacing the egg white with aquafaba!

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