This is a great bourbon cocktail for days when the temperatures start to rise. Chef Annette Tomei created this summery, layered bourbon lemon cocktail for us. It offers just the right balance of flavors and sensations to excite your palate and beat summer heat. (The ingredients include lemon sorbet!)
It is a four-way cultural mix: from the US, northern strawberries and southern spirit; from Italy, northern Balsamic vinegar and southern-style lemon granita. And they all come together in delicious harmony.
And with its sophistication, we think it’s a drink suitable for a Kentucky Derby viewing party…at least, it’s what we serve.
It’s also a great bourbon dessert drink to serve any night you want something light and sweet with a kick.
How to make a layered bourbon lemon cocktail
This creative bourbon cocktail is like bourbon lemonade but much more creative. (The bourbon gets layered on top of marinated strawberries and a generous scoop of frozen lemonade in the form of granita or sorbet.)
However, it’s important to note that some of the prep work for this bourbon and lemon cocktail must be done in advance.
Prep to do in advance
The macerated strawberries, (strawberries that have been softened by soaking in liquid, in this case, balsamic vinegar), takes a minimum of one-half hour. But the strawberries can be prepared up to one day in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
If you are making homemade sorbet or granita, you will also have to make this in advance so that it has time to freeze. Annette recommends either using your favorite recipe or purchasing prepared sorbet. Once you’re ready to prepare the cocktail, be sure to pour it slowly over the granita or sorbet to get the layered effect.
Making a granita at home is easy and it doesn’t require an ice cream maker. It’s basically like making lemonade and then freezing it into a chunky slush.
To make a homemade granita, start with simple syrup. Once the syrup is cooled, combine equal parts simple syrup and fresh lemon juice in a small baking dish. Freeze for one hour then stir with a fork. Freeze for an additional 1 1/2 – 2 hours, stirring with the fork every 30 minutes.
Equipment needed to make this bourbon martini cocktail
- 1 chilled martini glass per person
- A muddler – You will use this for the berries and ginger in the mixing glass to help maximize flavor.
- A mixing glass – This is an essential piece of equipment anyone who enjoys making cocktails should own. (Note that this cocktail is stirred, not shaken, which means you will use this glass instead of a cocktail shaker.)
- A bar spoon – This is the long, slender spoon you’ll see bartenders using to gently mix drinks. If you don’t have one, substitute with a thin-handled tablespoon
- A strainer
- A small ice cream scoop. If you don’t have a small scoop, use a heaping tablespoon
- Jigger – The measuring tool used to measure alcohol precisely.
What kind of bourbon should you use?
We like Bulleit Kentucky Bourbon for this bourbon martini recipe. It’s a quality, smooth bourbon. (It’s an especially good choice if you’re serving this as a Kentucky Derby drink.)
But if you can find a bourbon that’s interesting and local, that’s always a great idea. If you happen to be in New York State, Annette recommends that you try Hudson Whiskey’s Bright Lights, Big Bourbon.
When to serve this summer bourbon cocktail
We billed this as one of the best bourbon drinks for a Kentucky Derby viewing party. But this cocktail still fulfills our philosophy of serving you recipes worthy of your next date night. And when you consider this modern cocktail’s ingredients, it’s easy to see why we consider this a top contender for a spring or summer date night cocktail.
You can serve this bourbon drink with lemon before dinner. But it is also a great dessert cocktail, since it contains both sweet, ripe strawberries and sorbet.
Is it aphrodisiac? Well, it certainly has all the elements as far as we’re concerned. Don’t forget, citrus is among our 10 Best Foods for Women. Then add to that the layers of aphrodisiac strawberries, ginger and bourbon in one martini glass, it sounds pretty potent to us. As for the results, you be the judge!
More bourbon cocktails
Bourbon Limonata Martini
- 1 chilled martini glass
- 1 muddler
- 1 mixing glass
- 1 bar spoon
- 1 strainer
- 1 small ice cream scoop
- 1 jigger
- 1 fresh strawberry sliced
- 1 in piece of peeled fresh ginger cut into small bits
- 1 tsp aged Balsamic vinegar
- 4 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 tsp agave nectar
- 1 in jigger Kentucky Bourbon Bullitt Kentucky Bourbon was usedthe development of this recipe
- 1 small scoop lemon sorbet or granita approximately 1/8 cup, homemade or purchased
- 1 lemon slice seeds removed
Macerate the strawberry and ginger:
- Place the strawberry slices and ginger in a small microwave-safe bowl, top with the vinegar; stir well. Cover and microwave for approximately 30 seconds. Allow to sit covered for at least 30 minutes, up to 3 hours, or until cooled completely (longer equals more flavor). This part can be done in larger proportions then chilled and stored in the refrigerator for 1 day.
Prepare the cocktail:
- In a bartender's mixing glass, muddle the strawberry-ginger mixture with the bitters until the ginger and berries are well bruised. Fill the glass halfway with ice; pour in Bourbon and agave nectar. Stir vigorously.
- Place scoop of sorbet in the chilled glass; strain the cocktail over the sorbet. Serve garnished with a lemon slice and a swizzle stick.
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