Bourbon Lemonade

Two legends come together to make one unforgettable, and simple, cocktail… the Bourbon Lemonade.

Bourbon Lemonade

“Pour Mr. Wolcott a bourbon, Jack… and tell him it’s from Kentucky.”

The late, great Powers Boothe uttered the line above with such devious perfection on the television show “Deadwood”, it stayed with me on a daily basis ever since I first saw that episode. When a newcomer to town asks for a Kentucky bourbon, Boothe’s saloon owner, Cy Tolliver, responds with that unforgettable dialogue, accompanied with a slightly malevolent smirk. It made me think that he was serving his customer whiskey instead.

There’s a lot of confusion amongst more casual drinkers about the differences between whiskey and bourbon. Some folks think they are interchangeable, which I never found to be the case. They might be related, but upon closer inspection (sipping) and a little armchair research, you’ll find there’s a reason Mr. Wolcott was keen to have a bourbon from Kentucky.

There’s an old expression that goes, “All bourbons are whiskeys, but not all whiskeys are bourbons.” What does that mean exactly? Let me try to break it down a little, because even I get flummoxed sometimes when thinking about it. Whiskey can be made anywhere in the world and some of the finest come from all over; Ireland, Scotland and Japan make some of the most celebrated whiskies across the globe. There’s no minimum aging requirements either, and most is made from mashed grains.

When the Scots-Irish came to the United States in the 1700s, many settled in Kentucky. They brought with them the know-how and skills of distilling whiskey, but many began to use corn, an abundant crop. This spirit was also aged in barrels, for up to a few years at least. The alcohol would then take on notes of wood and any other flavors present, such as sherry or vanilla… it all depended on what the barrel originally carried. And for this spirit to be called bourbon, it must be aged in American oak. And it has to be made on American soil.

You’ll notice as you sip on your ice-cold Bourbon Lemonade today that the refreshing zing of the citrus is finished off by spicy, robust flavors. You can tell everybody that they’re from Kentucky.

What is the Best Bourbon to Use in a Bourbon Lemonade?

When choosing the right aged and oaky spirit for your Lemonade, there’s a literal plethora of bourbons to choose from. You can grab a bottle from a famous brand, and it’ll do just fine. You can also shop around and find more boutique, small-batch selections from smaller distillers that’ll make your drink unforgettable. Just make sure that whatever you choose, it comes from Kentucky.

Bourbon Lemonade
Servings 1 serving
serving 5 minutes


  • 4 to 6 ounces homemade fresh lemonade
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • Fresh mint for garnish
  • Cocktail cherry for garnish


  • Start by making your fresh lemonade. If you’re preparing a larger batch, keep it chilled in the refrigerator.
  • Fill a glass with ice cubes to keep your drink cool.
  • Pour 4 to 6 ounces of the chilled homemade lemonade into the glass.
  • Add 2 ounces of bourbon to the glass, stirring gently to combine the flavors.
  • Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and a cocktail cherry for a touch of elegance and added flavor.
  • If desired, top off the drink with a splash of soda water or ginger ale for a fizzy twist.

FAQs & Tips

Similar Cocktails to the Bourbon Lemonade

If lemonade is the drink that keeps you cool when the weather outside is scorching and causing you to sweat, Twist & Toast has a good number of refreshing and delicious cocktails to keep you from melting when the sun is high in the sky.

  • Vodka Lemonade – A strong and citrusy tipple that is guaranteed to keep you cool when the temperature is high.
  • Jack Daniel’s Lynchburg Lemonade – A fizzy, whiskey-infused lemonade that made quite the name for itself over the years.
  • Tom Collins – If you like lemonade, you’ll love the bright and crisp Tom Collins cocktail.
  • French 75 – Champagne tops this gin and lemon juice mixture. Perfect for black-tie events, or a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating