When I was approached about creating a strawberry and bourbon cocktail recipe, my mind immediately went to a classic mint julep with a fruity twist. The more I thought about it though, the bright minty flavor of that cocktail sounded like something refreshing and light for sipping on a warm spring or summer afternoon-- not a chilly Chicago winter weekend! So I decided to re-imagine the julep and give it a seasonally appropriate makeover and the results were nothing short of refreshing and delicious.
Instead of using the traditional fresh mint leaves in this recipe, I made this cocktail with fresh thyme. Thyme has such a warm herbaceous flavor and I have really come to love it when added to a cocktail or when paired with sweet ingredients like fruit. It's also one of my favorite ingredients for fall and winter cooking. And instead of creating a simple syrup purely from granulated sugar and water (as you would for a traditional mint julep), I created a sweet and earthy honey thyme simple syrup to add to this cocktail. I used Four Roses single barrel bourbon here and the combination of that and the honey is kind of magical. And the thyme adds some nice depth to the whole thing.
Last, but not least, fresh strawberries are muddled into the cocktail mixture to add some fruity sweet and tart flavor to the mixture. The freshness of the thyme and the more subdued honey simple syrup let the strawberry flavor shine in this cocktail. The berries also give this cocktail its gorgeous and festive pink hue! It's all shaken with a ton of crushed ice for that almost slushy-like julep feel (and to fully distribute this combination of flavors).
Cheers to a very happy (and boozey) Valentine's Day!
- 3 large strawberries, chopped
- 1/2 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 3 oz. Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon
- 6 oz. thyme & honey simple syrup (recipe below)
- Crushed ice for serving
- Fresh strawberries and thyme sprigs for garnish
Thyme & Honey Simple Syrup:
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
First, make the syrup: In a small saucepan, whisk together honey, sugar, and water. Add thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to the refrigerator to cool. Once completely cooled, remove thyme sprigs.
Add chopped strawberries, sugar, and the leaves of the two sprigs of thyme to a cocktail shaker. Muddle until combined and strawberries are smashed.
Add bourbon and simple syrup to the the strawberry mixture, close the shaker, and shake vigorously until combined.
Fill two rocks glasses halfway with ice. Pour cocktail mixture over the top and garnish with a thyme sprig and fresh strawberry, if desired. Serve immediately.
Editor's Note: This post was sponsored by Four Roses Bourbon. All opinions expressed herein, as always, are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support A Squared!