Kentucky Maid Cocktail Recipe

There's something about the combination of bourbon and barbecue that just feels right to me, and by virtue of it being an American invention, bourbon also can be justified as one of the more patriotic ways to imbibe during a week of celebrating independence. Yes, you should be celebrating all week. With drinks!

Though bourbon is often paired with lemon juice, incorporating lime juice in the Kentucky Maid, a cocktail by Milk & Honey's Sam Ross, is a refreshing change. The Maid's formula of citrus with mint and cucumber is one that can be easily adapted to other spirits, as well. For instance: if you change the base spirit to gin instead of bourbon, this drink would be called an Old Maid (or basically an Eastside on the rocks), and using lemon instead of lime juice would make this a Whiskey Smash, though that drink does not call for cucumber.

These small variations that result in a wide range of flavors are easy to grasp once one begins to understand a core basic cocktails and how to swap ingredients as a bartender would, which Mr. Ross also handily outlines in his new mobile app, Bartender's Choice.

As far as the practical application of this drink at a big summer barbecue, expanding the recipe and batching the ingredients in large containers in advance is key, since no one wants to be strapped behind the bar as other people enjoy the party.

Shaking each cocktail individually (after pouring the mixture from a pre-batched pitcher) imparts aeration and better dilution levels, making it always an ideal option in terms of taste. However, in a pinch, simply pouring this cocktail in batched form over rocks will due, but always try to include a garnish (mint or cucumber in this case) to keep up appearances. Enjoy.

Kentucky Maid Cocktail Recipe
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  • 2 oz Elijah Craig Bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz 1:1 simple syrup
  • 6 fresh mint leaves
  • 3 slices cucumber
  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker tin and muddle.
  2. Shake with ice and dump entire mixture (with ice) into a large rocks glass.
  3. Garnish with a mint, cucumber, and add straw.
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