Summer cocktails inspired by the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Uncharted Traveling

Summer time is for lazy days and cool nights. Good friends and good times. Kickin' back at the lake and hangin' out on the porch. What goes better with a front porch than a glass of bourbon? And what better way to celebrate summer than with a cocktail or two? Put these together and you have the perfect summer cocktail! Let me introduce you to some of my favorites, inspired by my travels on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

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Jenny Feleciano/Uncharted Traveling

Kentucky Tea

Looking for a summer drink with a little kick to it? Look no further. All you need is your favorite Kentucky bourbon, lemonade, peach tea, and a front porch! To make the perfect Kentucky Tea, use Four Roses Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The rich fruity notes and mellow spices in this Bourbon will blend perfectly in this summertime cocktail. It will go down way too smooth!

If you’ve ever wanted proof that mingling Bourbons is an art unto itself, you’ll find it in this perfectly balanced, Small Batch Bourbon. Four original Bourbon recipes have been expertly selected by our Master Distiller at the peak of maturation to create this very mellow and perfectly balanced Bourbon. You can enjoy it best straight up, on the rocks, or simply with a splash of your favorite mixer. ~ Four Roses Distillery Website
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Kentucky Tea with Wild Turkey Bourbon WhiskeyJenny Feleciano/Uncharted Traveling

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Four Roses Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 4 oz Peach Tea
  • 1 oz Simple Syrup
  • Lemonade ice cubes
  • Lemon slices (optional)

* To make a pitcher, use 4 cups peach tea, 2 cups bourbon and 1/2 cup of sugar. Stir the sugar into the tea while it's still warm, then add bourbon. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Add lemonade cubes when serving.

Directions:

Prepare lemonade ice cubes and keep separate until ready to serve the tea. Combine bourbon, tea, and simple syrup in a glass and stir to combine. Add lemonade cubes and stir a few times to get the lemonade flavor mixed in. Garnish with lemon slices or mint leaves. If you don't have time to make lemonade ice cubes, you can substitute with 2 ounces of lemonade. You can also add some regular ice cubes to keep the drink cold.

* Turn this into a slush! Just add the ingredients to a blender or Ninja and blend 'til it reaches slushy consistency.

Serve in:

Mason jar or tumbler glass

Bourbon Slush

This frozen concoction knocks it out of the park! It will become your go-to summertime party drink. Easy to make, and even easier to drink. No matter how much you make, it won't be enough, because everyone will be coming back for more. For this recipe, I like to use Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky has an award winning father/son master distilling team that's been kicking butt and taking names long enough that they are BOTH in the Bourbon Hall of Fame.

Originally crafted by Kentucky Bourbon Hall-of-Famer Eddie Russell as “Wild Turkey 81”, Wild Turkey Bourbon is aged in American White Oak barrels with the deepest, No. 4 “alligator” char. With notes of sweet vanilla, pear, and hints of spice, this bourbon finishes with a flavor that is full and rich, whether enjoyed straight or with a mixer. ~ Wild Turkey Distillery Website
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Bourbon Slush with Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Bourbon WhiskeyJenny Feleciano/Uncharted Traveling

Ingredients:

  • 12 - 16 oz Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 16 oz Black Tea (boil 2 cups of water, remove from heat, add 2 tea bags & let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 12 oz Frozen Lemonade Concentrate Undiluted
  • 6 oz Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate Undiluted
  • 1/2 cup Sugar (optional)
  • Sprite, 7-Up, Ginger Ale, or Club Soda
  • Lemon or Orange slices

Directions:

Combine the bourbon, tea, and sugar (if you use it) in a large bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemonade and orange juice concentrate and stir until combined. Cover the bowl, or transfer to a plastic container with a lid (ziplock bags work too). Freeze overnight. To serve, scoop slush mixture into a glass and top with Sprite, 7-Up, Ginger Ale, or Club Soda. Garnish with lemon or orange slices.

Serve in:

Mason jar, tumbler, wine glass...this drink is so good, it doesn't matter!

Bourbon Sour

A little sweet and a little sour, just like a southern girl should be. Made with homemade sour mix and brandy soaked cherries, this drink requires a bit of prep work, but it's definitely worth the wait. This will be your favorite Friday night cocktail! You can choose your favorite Kentucky Bourbon, but mine is Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

This deep amber whiskey has a complex aroma of vanilla, mint and molasses. Pleasantly sweet to the taste with notes of brown sugar and spice that give way to oak, toffee, dark fruit and anise. This whiskey finishes long and smooth with serious depth. ~ Buffalo Trace Distillery Website

If you do any bourbon tasting in Kentucky, you absolutely must include Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. I mean, just to get a glimpse of the ever elusive Pappy Van Winkle should be reason enough! But more than that, this distillery has an awesome story with 200 years of history, fun tours, and pretty darn good bourbon. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to visit the newly uncovered archeological dig site that was found during a recent renovation.

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Bourbon Sour with Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon WhiskeyJenny Feleciano/Uncharted Traveling

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 2 - 3 Dashes Bitters (Barrel Aged Bitters offsets the tartness)
  • Brandy Soaked Cocktail Cherries OR Maraschino Cherries
  • 2 oz Homemade Sour Mix

*Substitute for sour mix: 1 oz fresh lemon juice, 3/4 oz fresh lime juice, 1/2 oz simple syup

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake a few times. Pour over 2 - 3 medium sized ice cubes. Garnish with cocktail cherries or a Maraschino cherry

Serve in:

Short tumbler glass

Sweet Bourbon Sidecar

Looking for the perfect weekend cocktail? This delicious twist on a Sidecar cocktail is refreshing and sweet, with just enough of a kick to let you know the weekend is here! This slightly sweeter version of a Sidecar is accomplished by using Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon Whiskey.

Wild Turkey American Honey is an exceptionally smooth liqueur blended with pure honey and real Wild Turkey Bourbon Whiskey. It’s perfect straight out of the bottle, chilled in the freezer, or on the rocks. It’s the sweeter, smoother side of Wild Turkey, with notes of sweet honey, caramel, and orange. ~ Wild Turkey Distillery Website
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Sweet Bourbon Sidecar with Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon WhiskeyJenny Feleciano/Uncharted Traveling

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake a few times. Serve over ice and garnish with a twisted lemon peel.

Serve in:

Short tumbler glass

Buffalo Float

Now for dessert! This is the perfect dessert cocktail for summer nights on the back porch. Coming to you from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky...it's like a Root Beer Float, adult style! All you need is some Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream Liqueur, a little root beer, and some ice cream. This smooth creamy liqueur is so good, you'll even be tempted to skip the root beer and ice cream and drink it all by itself chilled or on the rocks.

Bourbon Cream is handcrafted using Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon, making it a perfect marriage of rich delicious cream and smooth Kentucky bourbon. ~ Buffalo Trace Distillery Website
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Buffalo Float with Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream LiqueurJenny Feleciano/Uncharted Traveling

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream Liqueur
  • 4 oz Root Beer
  • 1 - 2 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)

Directions:

Put a few ice cubes in the bottom of the glass. Add bourbon cream liqueur, and top with root beer. For a creamier treat, try substituting the ice cubes for vanilla ice cream. You can thank me later.

Serve in:

Short tumbler glass (or a tall one if you need a double!)

Here's to summer nights and bourbon cocktails. Drop your comments below and share your favorite summertime drinks as well. Cheers!

Follow me to keep up to date with all things Memphis, southern inspired travel ideas and cocktail recipes. I write about travel, community events, live music and festivals, and all the best food and drink!

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Local city guide for Memphis Tennessee, reporting on current events, entertainment, and all the best places to eat and drink. And a few cocktail recipes here and there!

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