How to Make a Whiskey Smash

Get ready to smash your doubts away! Our Whiskey Smash combines zesty lemons, fresh mint, and a dash of sugar for a classic whiskey smash cocktail you will love.

A glass of Whiskey Smash on a table.

What is a Whiskey Smash?

The Whiskey Smash, a timeless cocktail, expertly fuses the rich flavors of whiskey with the zest of citrus and the freshness of mint. Its history dates back to the 19th century, where it emerged as a variant of the Mint Julep. It gained prominence through Jerry Thomas’ influential “Bartender’s Guide” in 1887. This timeless mix includes muddled lemon, mint, sugar, bourbon whiskey, and crushed ice, creating a blend of sweet, sour, and robust flavors.

In the 1990s, the Whiskey Smash became popular again, largely because of Dale DeGroff, a well-known bartender at the famous Rainbow Room in New York. DeGroff brought back and added his own twist to classic drinks like the Whiskey Smash. This move was a big part of the renewed interest in traditional cocktails seen in the early 2000s. The Whiskey Smash, known for its perfect mix of flavors and easy recipe, continues to be a favorite for both cocktail experts and those new to drinking, showcasing the lasting charm of classic whiskey cocktails.

Reasons to Love This Cocktail

  • Whiskey Smash expertly balances the boldness of whiskey with the refreshing tang of lemon and the coolness of mint.
  • Its uncomplicated recipe offers a sophisticated taste.
  • The fresh ingredients, especially mint and lemon, provide a refreshing vibe.
  • This classic cocktail is adaptable to various whiskey preferences, from smooth bourbons to peaty scotches.

Recipe Ingredients

Muddling ingredients for a Whiskey Smash cocktail.
  • Mint Leaves: Essential for the cocktail’s refreshing and cool flavor.
  • Lemon: Adds a tangy and zesty element that balances the sweetness and enhances the flavor profile.
  • White Sugar: Sweetens the drink and complements the sourness of the lemon and the herbal notes of the mint.
  • Whiskey: It provides rich, deep flavors and the defining alcohol content.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations

  • Whiskey Sour Smash Upgrade: Elevate your Whiskey Sour Smash by substituting ½ to 1 ounce of simple syrup for white sugar, and garnish with a twist of lemon peel. Introduce a dash of fresh lime juice for a delightful citrusy kick. Balancing sweetness and tartness are crucial; adjust lemon juice or simple syrup to your liking.
  • Manhattan Smash Elegance: Add a touch of sophistication to the classic with the Manhattan Smash. Incorporate richness by including 1 ounce of sweet vermouth along with the whiskey. Optionally, garnish with a cherry and a sprig of mint for a tasteful twist on tradition.
  • Fruity Fusion: Shake things up with a fruity twist by muddling fresh strawberries, blueberries, or peaches in place of or alongside the lemon. The result? A refreshingly sweet and tangy drink, perfect for those summer vibes. Customize to your liking for the ultimate warm-weather refresher.
  • Whiskey Swap: Transform your cocktail entirely by switching out the whiskey. For instance, substituting Canadian whiskey for bourbon brings a smooth, slightly sweeter flavor profile to the mix. Experiment with different whiskey varieties for a personalized touch to your drink.

How to Make a Whiskey Smash

Step #1: Place the mint, lemon wedges, and sugar in a cocktail shaker. You can also use a mason jar instead of a cocktail shaker. Muddle them together or smash the stuff up with a muddler (or the handle of a wooden spoon) until the sugar has dissolved and the lemon has released its juices.

Muddled lemons and mint in a mason jar.

Step #2: Add the whiskey, cover, and shake for 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to an Old-Fashioned glass.

Step #3: Top with crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Whiskey Smash cocktail served in a lowball glass.

Expert Tips

  • Straining: Your choice between straining or double-straining the Whiskey Smash depends on your texture preference. If you want no pulp or mint leaves in your drink, double-strain it into your rocks glass.
  • Simple Syrup: Opting for simple syrup instead of granulated sugar can make the drink smoother and easier to mix.
  • Muddle Mint: Exercise caution when muddling the mint leaves. Lightly press to release aromatic oils without tearing the leaves, preventing a bitter taste.
  • Swizzle: After adding crushed ice, swizzle the cocktail a bit to evenly chill the drink and mix the ingredients.
  • Garnishing: Opt for spearmint for a lighter, sweeter mint flavor. Additionally, consider using a swath of lemon peel or a couple of fresh berries for a pop of color and flavor.
Whiskey Smash served in a lowball glass with a sprig of mint leaves on a table.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use other fresh herbs besides mint in a Whiskey Smash?

Absolutely! While mint is traditional, you can experiment with other fresh herbs for unique twists. Basil offers a peppery, slightly sweet flavor, while rosemary can add a piney, aromatic touch. Just remember to muddle gently to release the oils of the herb.

What is the traditional serving glass for a Whiskey Smash?

The traditional way to serve a Whiskey Smash is in a lowball glass, also known as a rocks or Old-Fashioned glass. Due to its wide opening, people prefer this type of glass. It’s ideal for muddling ingredients directly into the glass.

Can I make a non-alcoholic version of this cocktail?

Yes, use a non-alcoholic whiskey alternative or a simple syrup flavored with herbs.

How do I know when the sugar is fully dissolved?

The mixture should feel smooth, not gritty when stirred.

Can I use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemon?

Yes. Bottled lemon juice can work in a pinch. However, I recommend using fresh lemon for the best flavor and zest.

Storage Info

The Whiskey Smash is best enjoyed fresh and isn’t suited for long-term storage. However, if needed, you can store the muddled mixture of mint, lemon, and sugar in the refrigerator for up to a day. If you’ve prepared it in advance, simply give it a good stir or a quick shake before serving with whiskey over fresh crushed ice.

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A glass of Whiskey Smash on a table.

Whiskey Smash Recipe

Get ready to smash your doubts away! Our Whiskey Smash combines zesty lemons, fresh mint, and a dash of sugar for a classic whiskey smash cocktail you will love.
4.6 from 88 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Beverages
Cuisine: North American
Diet: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 198kcal
Author: Linda
Print Recipe

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves - about 7 or 8 leaves
  • half of one lemon - cut into four pieces
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • 1 cup crushed ice

Instructions

  • Place the mint, lemon wedges, and sugar in a cocktail shaker. You can also use a mason jar instead of a cocktail shaker. Muddle them together or smash the stuff up with a muddler (or the handle of a wooden spoon) until the sugar has dissolved and the lemon has released its juices.
  • Add the whiskey, cover, and shake for 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to an Old-Fashioned glass.
  • Top with crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint.

NOTES

Storage Info:
The Whiskey Smash is best enjoyed fresh and isn’t suited for long-term storage. However, if needed, you can store the muddled mixture of mint, lemon, and sugar in the refrigerator for up to a day. If you’ve prepared it in advance, simply give it a good stir or a quick shake before serving with whiskey over fresh crushed ice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 198kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 17mg | Potassium: 86mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 637IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg

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About the Author

Linda

Hi, I'm Linda! Welcome to The Wanderlust Kitchen, where I share recipes and travel adventures from all around the world. Here you'll find a world of recipes you can have confidence in. These recipes celebrate authentic food heritage as well as modern techniques and ingredients. Be adventurous and try a new recipe and travel somewhere you have never been before.  Bon Appétit! Bon Voyage!  

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Comments:

    1. Isn’t that a great glass? I got it at an estate sale. I think it is pretty old. Sorry, I can’t help you find one like it.