A whiskey smash is like a whiskey sour infused with mint. And this version gets another flavor kick with a hint of punchy ginger. It’s smooth, with a wonderful sweet-sour balance you’ll instantly love.
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I’m a bit fussy when it comes to cocktails. I do like some simple classics like gin and tonics, a Pimm’s cup or mojito. I tend to avoid overly sweet drinks, though do like ones with plenty fruit flavor (hello mango margarita). But ones that are purely spirits are also a bit too much for me.
Something with citrus is a pretty safe bet for me, and so when I discovered sours, I knew I’d found a favorite. Whether it’s the more classic whiskey, or twists like my hibiscus mezcal sour, I find the simple, tart mix so appealing.
What are sours?
Before I go any further, let me say this is not about sour mixes, though there is a connection. Not necessarily in a good way, mind you.
Sours are a style of cocktail that have been around for probably longer than anyone can really pinpoint. They are spirit heavy, with some citrus, usually lemon, and simple syrup (or sugar and water).
Some accounts suggest they were created based on sailor rations. Lime or lemons to help prevent scurvy and, possibly, to water down the spirit to save the sailors drinking too much too fast. They continued being made back on land, but then through things like Prohibition and changing tastes, they went out of fashion.
I imagine the creation of sour mix probably helped add to their downfall. Since so many are pretty artificial-tasting, if you’re only adding whiskey or one other spirit, you can really taste it. But made properly, things are different.
The sour revival
Making then with real citrus is seeing a resurgence and I am glad as as it’s such a great, simple cocktail that’s perfect for sipping. While they don’t generally need (or lend themselves) to too much adaptation, a little can work.
An example is the sub-group of sours called ‘smashes’ that add some mint in the mix. I believe the name smash is because you shake the mint up with everything else to get the flavor out before you strain it. The flavor is subtle, but adds a nice extra freshness.
We had a take on a ginger whiskey smash in Hawaii that was a little different from this, but had me determined to try one at home. Since I had some homemade ginger syrup already, it was the perfect excuse.
Ideally, you’d have a cocktail shaker and shake everything together (hence ‘smash’). But even just muddling everything well in a glass gets a decent amount of flavor from the mint. You can help it by letting the muddled mint steep a little.
This ginger whiskey smash is easy to make and for only a few ingredients, tastes much more complex than it is. It has a smooth balance of tart and sweet. It’s a little boozy but not in a way that’s hard to drink. In other words, this cocktail is definitely one to try soon.
Try these other cocktails with mint:
And if you like these flavors, you might want to join me in adding Quite Good Food’s pineapple ginger rum cocktail to your list.
Ginger whiskey smash
- 2 oz whiskey recommend bourbon – I used Eagle Rare; 60ml
- 3/4 oz lemon juice fresh – 22ml, or 1 oz/30ml if prefer a little more sour
- 3/4 oz ginger syrup 22ml
- 10 mint leaves
- Shake all together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain it into a glass filled with a little ice, pressing the mint to get as much flavor from it as you can. Note a smash is often served over plenty crushed ice so serve as you prefer.
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