Lemon Ginger Whiskey Cocktail is an elegant, flavorful drink to serve as the “featured cocktail” at your next gathering.

Lemon Ginger Bourbon Cocktail in a glass with a slice of lemon

Bourbon Lemon Cocktail with Ginger

My mom loved bourbon – it was her alcohol of choice in the fall and winter (she drank vodka during the other seasons). I’m more of a vodka girl, but I do like bourbon when it’s mixed with other flavors – like in our Genuine Derby Day Mint Juleps, and in my Lemon Ginger Bourbon Cocktail.

Last year, Robert and I had a lovely mini-vacation at The Canyon Suites hotel on the property of The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona. One evening, the bartender served a bourbon-based drink that was infused with smoke! It was also flavored with lemon, ginger and rosemary. While I thought the smoky flavor was a bit overpowering, I liked all the others flavors. (After all, I like pretty much anything that has either lemon or ginger in it, let alone both.) So, I came home and created my own version of this delectable cocktail – minus the smoke. I think mom would have liked my version!

Specialty Bar Tools Needed to Make this Whiskey Ginger Recipe

There are only two bar tools that you’ll need to make this cocktail:

  1. Cocktail shaker. A shaker is the most efficient way to thoroughly blend together all the ingredients. Plus, with the addition of ice, it also chills the drinks at the same time.
  2. Cocktail strainer. Often the strainers built into cocktail shakers don’t tend to work very well. They can easily get clogged, and can be slow. My favorite is the stainless steel strainer with a spring linked here.

Lemon Whiskey Drink Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to whip up these amazing cocktails:

For the Rosemary-Infused Simple Syrup:

  • Honey
  • Water
  • Fresh rosemary

For the cocktail:

  • The above Simple Syrup
  • Good quality bourbon or whiskey
  • Ginger Liqueur (I like Domaine de Canton)
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon or orange bitters
  • Rosemary, for garnish
  • Lemon slices, for garnish
lemon ginger bourbon cocktail over ice in a glass, garnished with a lemon slice

How to Make a Whiskey Lemon Cocktail

All you need to do to make this refreshing cocktail is follow these easy steps:

  1. Prepare Rosemary-Infused Simple Syrup.
    In a small saucepan, heat honey, water and rosemary leaves over medium-low heat, stirring, just until honey is dissolved. Remove from heat, cover and allow to steep (at room temperature) for several hours or overnight.
  2. Place syrup in shaker.
    Place 1/4 cup rosemary-infused simple syrup (with the rosemary) in a cocktail shaker that’s around half full with ice. Place the remaining simple syrup in a sealed container and refrigerate for one month for later use. (Can also freeze for up to 3 months.)
  3. Add remaining ingredients and shake.
    Add bourbon, ginger liqueur, lemon juice and lemon bitters to cocktail shaker. Shake until well mixed and chilled.
  4. Strain and serve.
    Strain into two cocktail glasses over ice. Garnish with a small rosemary sprig and a slice of lemon.

FAQ for Bourbon and Ginger Cocktail

What is simple syrup?

Simple syrup is basically sweetened water. You can use granulated sugar, brown sugar or honey. Most simple syrups call for mixing together 1 part sugar to 1 part water, then stirring the mixture over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. In creating this recipe, I found that more honey/less water worked best – which is sometimes called “rich simple syrup.”

Why is simple syrup important to this cocktail?

Simple syrup is an important ingredient in this recipe for two reasons:
1. It smoothly provides sweetness needed to offset the tartness of the lemon juice and lemon bitters.
2. Adding rosemary leaves to the syrup cooking process provides a way to disperse the rosemary flavor into the cocktail.

What is the difference between Whiskey and Bourbon? Can either be used in this recipe?

First, and most importantly, remember: all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. The main difference between the two is in the fermentation process – the grain used and how it is stored/aged.

By definition, whiskey is a spirit distilled from fermented grain, including wheat, rye, barley, and corn—and then aged in wooden barrels. To legally call a whiskey a bourbon, it must be:
produced in the United States. (Other whiskeys are produced all over the world; most common are Scottish and Irish.)
made from 51 percent corn. (For other whiskeys, the mix of grains can vary.)
distilled to a max of 160 proof and placed into the barrels at a max of 125 proof. (Other whiskeys can be distilled to a max of 190 proof.)
stored in newly charred white oak barrels. (For other whiskeys, then need to be in oak barrels, but can be new or old, charred or not.)

In terms of flavor, bourbon tends to be slightly sweeter and smoother than other whiskeys. Any whiskey – bourbon or other varieties – works well in this cocktail.

Order Out – What is a ginger and whiskey called?

This cocktail is my version of a drink created by the mixologist at a hotel in Arizona, so it’s very unique! If you want to order something similar at a bar or restaurant, the closest classic bourbon cocktails might be a Gold Rush or Whiskey Sour. Ask the bartender to add in some ginger liqueur, and you’ll be even closer – just missing the rosemary.

Serving Suggestions for a Whiskey Ginger Cocktail

I have served this whiskey cocktail with many different appetizers. Here are some of my favorites:

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lemon ginger bourbon cocktail over ice in a glass, garnished with a lemon slice

Whiskey Lemon Cocktail

Bourbon cocktail mixed with a rosemary-infused honey simple syrup, lemon juice, and ginger. YUM!

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale

Rosemary-Infused Honey Simple Syrup (Makes around 1 1/8 cups)

  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves, plus more for garnish

Lemon Ginger Bourbon Cocktail

  • 1/4 cup Rosemary-Infused Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) good quality bourbon
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) ginger liqueur (I like Domaine de Canton brand)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 dashes lemon bitters (can also use orange)
  • Rosemary sprigs, for garnish
  • Lemon slices, for garnish

Instructions

Rosemary-Infused Simple Syrup

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the honey, water and rosemary leaves over medium-low heat, stirring, just until the honey is dissolved. Remove from heat, cover and allow to steep (at room temperature) for several hours or overnight.

Lemon Ginger Bourbon Cocktail

  1. Place 1/4 cup rosemary-infused simple syrup (with the rosemary) in a cocktail shaker that’s around half full with ice. Place the remaining simple syrup in a sealed container and refrigerate for one month for later use. (Can also freeze for up to 3 months.)
  2. Add bourbon, ginger liqueur, lemon juice and lemon bitters to the cocktail shaker. Shake until well mixed and chilled.
  3. Strain into two cocktail glasses over ice. Garnish with a small rosemary sprig and a slice of lemon.
  • Author: (By Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Category: cocktails, easy entertaining
  • Method: shaken
lemon ginger bourbon cocktail over ice in a glass, garnished with a lemon slice

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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I haves provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.


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