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Maple Bourbon Smash

All Photos: Mike Jordan

Maple Bourbon Smash


Make this festive, maple-y one-spirit bourbon cocktail for happy hour tonight

Raise your hand if you've ever Googled a cocktail recipe at 5 p.m., only to realize that your dream beverage requires four different spirits and two kinds of bitters. That's what I thought.

Instead of futzing around with countless bottles of liquor, it's time to embrace the simple, one-spirit cocktail. My collegue Mike Jordan recently crafted an excellent such drink using his favorite bottle of bourbon and a few smartly-dispatched pantry ingredients — the maple boubon smash.

You'll need to gather a lemon, some sage and a bottle of your best maple syrup. And pick out your favorite bourbon — its flavor will really come through here, so make it count. (Mike likes W.L. Weller bourbon, as well as a bottle of Bissell bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup that you can order online.)

Muddle lemon slices with that bourbon, maple syrup and sage, and really get in there until the mixture turns slightly cloudy and thickens. The bitterness from the lemon rind adds needed complexity, and eliminates the need to add a few dashes of bitters. Sage brings an herbaceous quality to balance out the sweetness of the bourbon and maple. The final touch is a generous pour of fresh lemon juice, which you'll shake into your muddled masterpiece.

Strain and garnish with a little more lemon and sage — you'll want to make sure your drink drinker knows just how clever this cocktail is.

Maple Bourbon Smash
Makes: 1 cocktail
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes

4 lemon rounds, plus 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce maple syrup
1 sprig fresh sage leaves, plus more for garnish
Ice cubes

Fill a rocks glass with ice.

Place 3 of the lemon slices in a cocktail shaker. Cover with the bourbon and maple syrup, followed by the sage leaves. Muddle the mixture until the mixture looks thicker and slightly cloudy, about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice and fill the shaker with ice cubes. Shake until chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into the prepared glass and garnish with the remaining lemon round and additional sage leaves. Serve immediately.

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Kate Williams is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also the on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She's worked in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.