bourbon slush punch

Nothing to see here, guys.

strong tea

Really, you wouldn’t like this. Who’d want to drink a half-frozen blend of strong tea, lemonade, orange juice and bourbon garnished with fresh mint on a sticky, hot summer day? It might give you a little brain freeze. It would probably feel like liquid air conditioning. It could improve your outlook to the point that you might forget to dread the next heat wave. Nothing good could come of this.

orange juice-ing

Trust me, I know from experience. My friends brought bags of this slush up to their roof last month and I had but a few crunchy sips before I turned to my husband and said, “I think I’m starting to like summer in the city.” He said, “Whoa. Slow down there!” And we both agreed that this was a very dangerous drink to have on hand and that we should only finish our glass and at most one more to be safe.

lemon juicing

bourbon, tea, lemon and orange juice
all mixed and ready
concentrate + ice to blend

My friends got the recipe from a magazine, but it’s crazy sweet as printed. I ended up tweaking it, using freshly squeezed orange juice and lemonade instead of frozen concentrate and half the recommended sugar (less, even, given that I didn’t sweeten the equivalent homemade lemonade). The original recipe has you divide the mixture between two gallon-size freezer bags and freeze it until slushy, but my friends complained that this took forever, at least 12 hours in their freezer (your freezer may be colder), and that’s just way too much forethought about a cocktail for me. Plus, I had little doubt that I’d miss the “perfectly slushy” window and end up with a giant ice cube. So, when I make it, I use a base concentrate which is all of the ingredients except the water and you should keep this chilled until needed. And instead of adding water, we used the equivalent weight in ice, which you can blend in a large batch or individual size, as needed. Which might be often this weekend. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

bourbon slush punch
bourbon slush punch

One year ago: Banana, Nutella and Salt Pistachio Popsicles
Two years ago: Pink Lemonade Bars
Three years ago: Tomato Salad with Crushed Croutons
Four years ago: Raspberry Brown Sugar Gratin
Five years ago: Asparagus with Chorizo and Croutons and Sour Cherry Slab Pie
Six years ago: Herbed Potato and Summer Squash Torte
Seven years ago: Pearl Couscous with Olives and Roasted Tomatoes

Bourbon Slush Punch
Adapted from Garden & Gun

After significantly reducing the sugar and replacing frozen concentrate with fresh juice, I halved this recipe so that it serves 8 people (in 1-cup servings; your punch glasses may be smaller) from 4 cups concentrate and about 5 cups ice. The resulting punch is lightly sweet and very refreshing. And it crunches. You can definitely double it for a crowd. If you would rather make the slush the way originally recommended, after you make the punch base mixture, add 2 cups cold water to it. Pour mixture into a gallon-sized freezer bag. Freeze mixture until slushy (this might take several to many hours), and serve. If it freezes solid, place it in a punch bowl and let it thaw, breaking it up every 15 minutes or so. Blending ice cubes as directed below is definitely less work.

1 cup water
2 tea bags (whatever you like for iced tea)
1 cup bourbon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups orange juice (about 3 well-squeezed oranges)
6 tablespoons lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
16 to 17 ounces (about 5 cups of small pieces of ice) ice cubes
Mint sprigs or lemon slices, for garnish

Boil 1 cup water for tea. Add the tea bags and let steep until cool. Discard the tea bags and set aside. Pour tea into a pitcher. Add bourbon, sugar, orange juice and lemon juice and refrigerate until needed. Don’t worry about stirring the sugar so that it dissolves; after 30 minutes in the fridge, it will have.

To serve: Shake or stir punch base to ensure ingredients are evenly distributed. To make two liters of punch, add base and full amount of ice cubes to your blender, blending until the ice is crushed and slushy. For each individual glass of punch, place 1/2 cup punch base and slightly heaped 1/2 cup small pieces of ice (mine were chipped off an ice block; don’t ask) and blend until slushy. Add an extra whole ice cube or two to glasses if desired. Garnish glass with a sprig of mint or slice of lemon.

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118 comments on bourbon slush punch

  1. Joanne

    Am headed out right this minute to get all the ingredients and whip up a batch…oh wait, darn it, I’m at the office. Drat.

  2. Christine

    39.5 weeks pregnant and this is on my to-do list as soon as I am 0% pregnant. No, wait– I’ve got some requisite nesting to do this weekend, so I could make it and stash it in the back of the fridge- I’m sure the bourbon will help it keep should I go (god forbid) a week or two overdue. And I may just skip the blender and mix it with crushed ice from the fridge dispenser- wouldn’t want to wake the baby. :)

    Summer bourbon is about my favorite thing ever. (Or second favorite after winter bourbon). Can’t wait for this!

  3. Oooooooh yes. Yes. I did a mint julep granitas earlier this summer, and I can only imagine how dangerous this one will be too! Looks so delicious.

  4. Stef

    Ok, I started reading the directions and immediately converted water to ice and fresh juice for concentrate in my head. Then you did too. Bourbon doesn’t need lots of sugar. Thanks for this one Deb – it is the first summer drink that I have felt like actually going out and getting all the ingredients! Thanks!

  5. Sarah

    Oh my gosh, I am such a sucker for a bourbon cocktail. I’ll be making this this weekend!

    Quick typo: just above the 9th photo, a splicing issue: “And instead of adding water, we add the The water is instead added as ice…”

  6. Kimberly L.

    Oh mama! I wonder if I put this in my ice cream maker, if it would make this into daiquiri-like consistency? Must attempt.

  7. katie

    This looks delicious!
    My grandmother makes vodka slush with similar ingredients. I have been thinking of this drink lately, it sounds so good during hot weather.
    However, hers includes orange juice concentrate and heaps of sugar, so I have not made it.
    Here you are to the rescue! Fresh juice, less sugar, and bourbon instead of vodka? Bourbon for the win!

  8. I’m a bourbon girl, so much so that I infuse it with bacon for a killer old fashioned (garnished with a clove-infused maraschino cherry), but I also love a good slush, and your punch is going to visit me at happy hour. Thanks for a fun recipe.

  9. Peter B

    My wife makes this often in the summer in it original form, and it was a staple of her grandmother. We like to put a twist on it, though. We use a thai tea blend, local “moonshine” (un-aged whiskey), and use tropical juices (mango, guava, etc).

  10. Erika

    We’ll take all the sugar here in the South ;)
    Reminds me of a fruit tea recipe I have…delicious, even without alcohol!

  11. John

    If you do think to prep it well enough in advance, it’s no problem to freeze for a long time because the bourbon prevents it from becoming a frozen block and stays the right amount of slushy.

    1. deb

      John, Laura — Oh, right! Booze doesn’t freeze. So, I’ll update that. And of course, everyone should feel free to make it however is easiest.

      A second thing I liked about having the water separated out as ice is the reusability of the drink; if you make slush, and it doesn’t get finished, well, you need new friends :) but you then need to re-freeze it to make it usable again. Here, you’re starting with more of a concentrate for the drink, so you can take any amount, add an equal volume or so of ice, and blend it.

      1. Mary

        I make a similar slush and just freeze a big batch. Whenever the craving strikes I chip off a chunk and its magically slushy in minutes. You can leave it in the freezer for up to a month.

  12. This sounds like the best thing to happen to a summer weekend since…since I don’t know what. :) I will definitely be drinking one of these some afternoon soon!

  13. Laura

    Deb, you minx! As a KY gal I’ve been making bourbon slush for YEARS! It’s a staple tailgating before horse racing. Anyway, I’m so excited to try your recipe!
    I would like to add: If your mixture freezes solid, you didn’t put in enough bourbon!

  14. Shelley

    Bwahaha! Just bought that magazine for a friend who likes gardening. And guns. Worst magazine name ever though! Great punch recipe can’t wait. I have one with dark rum and pine/orange/grapefruit juices that’s a great slush too so this will help mix up the ole repertoire!

  15. We make a huge batch at the beginning of every summer, and keep it in a large tub in the freezer. Use an ice cream scoop to half-fill a glass, and then pour club soda over it.

    Also, if you’re using frozen juice concentrate (which we usually do for convenience sake), you wouldn’t need to add any sugar. It’s already plenty sweet!

  16. EricaLT

    I want to have a party just to make this.

    Or, alternatively, I will make this and have a party.

    Either way, I get some bourbon!

  17. Oh Deb I love you! This is EXACTLY what we say about your infamous Vermontucky Lemonade. It’s become kind of legendary ever since the first summer I served it to our friends… a) it is so refreshing and cold and delicious and b) the alcohol content totally sneaks up on ya! It is always requested. This sounds like it will be our new favorite! Thank you for bringing down the sweetness and for making it fool-proof (whether baking or freezing items, I am bound to walk away and forget it about taking it out at the right time)! Perfection, and in your warm and charming voice with those very inviting photos of slush — this post is just everything I love about SK! Happy summering to y’all!

  18. Jen

    Yay! We LOVE Bourbon Slush in this house. A friend from Baton Rouge gave us her “Meemaw”‘s recipe and also serves it every Christmas at their “Fais Do-Do” party. Suffice it to say, there is never any leftover and we always have a stupendous time at the party. :)
    I’m not sure why I never though to make this in the summer. I think I’ll do that this weekend!

  19. Dahlink

    This takes me back to early days of food blogging. We had a lively group at the much-missed Dining@Large blog. Our most flamboyant regular had a number of alter egos, and he hung out with someone named Bourbon Girl. I always wondered if BG lived outside of his imagination, but I met her in the flesh at his memorial gathering. (What does it say about a blog that I have attended two festive gatherings, plus two memorial services for beloved contributors?) In any case, it made me ridiculously happy to know that Bourbon Girl lives!

  20. Jessiet

    Hey Smitten! I just printed this recipe and am taking it with me to Maine for our vacation. I am so excited to try it. Okay, one thing though. You didn’t really think you were going to get away with not getting some flak for hanging around with folks who read “Garden and Gun” magazine, did you?! Hahaha! I’m impressed–they sound like my kinda folks!

  21. Sue

    Blender query: I searched through your posts and found that you got the Vitamix bundle at Costco. I am thinking of splurging on a Vitamix as well. Found info on refurbished and looking into that. But would give up the dry container if go that route. So, question for you is, do you use the dry container much? Is it really worth it to go for the bundle deal? Thanks!

    1. deb

      Sue — I intentionally got the one with the dry container, but haven’t used it much. Yet. (I’ve only had this for two months.) I suspect that when I do, however, I’ll be glad I got it. But I haven’t done a lot of baking that would involve grinding nuts or the like lately.

      Jessiet — I was wondering when it would come up. I have VERY lukewarm feelings about the magazine. I actually subscribed for a couple months and then read something that irritated me to the point that I actually cancelled my subscription. But, they got the recipe where they got it, and credit is due.

          1. mary

            Oh my gosh – i find myself offended by so very many things. If i acted on every offense, I wouldn’t leave the house, turn on the tv, or speak to my relatives! There’s a great book called ‘unoffended’ and we may be taking offense too quickly.
            Thank you again for your adaptation of the recipe! Making it for a dinner party here in the hot and humid weather

            1. deb

              True. We get to decide what the big things are. For me, the classism in that article is a line I wouldn’t cross.

              More relevantly, enjoy the drink. It’s a summer staple here.

      1. A Mitchell

        Oh, my! Reading the article about Southern Women is like listening to fingernails screeching on the blackboard! Hear words to this effect constantly here in SC. I’m from New England…

      2. Vicki

        I have the original stainless steel Vitamin with just 1 container. It’s great for grinding grains, making oatmeal flour as well as blending your Bourbon Slush and making Margaritas. I didn’t realize the new Vitamix has 2 containers. Enjoy!

  22. Kim Stebbins

    Oh my, what memories! My grandmother made something very, very similar for decades and served it, not in the summer, but every Thanksgiving! I know that sounds odd, but Tennessee can be warm in November. She served it, not as a slush, but in a big crystal punch bowl with an ice ring. Sadly, I never got the actual recipe (though these are the ingredients)–we actually called the punch, “Granny’s Recipe.” And yes, even the children would sneak a few sips when no adults were looking! I am so happy to see this and now I can make it. But I’m not waiting until Thanksgiving!

  23. I had a friend who used to make whiskey slushes in very large batches for, ahem, –social gatherings — I think she mixed the whiskey with the other components and “froze” them, but they never really froze, they just got, well — slushy. This reminds me of my friend and those good times. Thank you!

  24. Christine

    If you think you dont like bourbon, you are probably wrong! Try this recipe! We have had a similar recipe in our family for generations (with bourbon and tea). Like others noted, we make our ‘concentrate’ in an ice cream bucket that you can either turn out whole into a punch bowl, or use an ice cream scoop to put shavings into a glass, AND THEN top with gingerale which immediately (almost) turns it slushy. These punch recipes ARE summer life changing! Make one immediately! The only problem is too much driving to do in the summer with all that bourbon-y goodness calling from the freezer. Good thing there’s an excellent seal on the door! Deb I look forward to trying your version since we avoid soft drinks now! Or maybe ill superconcentrate and add club soda like another commenter!

  25. I understand the love/hate with some of those southern-belle-type mags. Lovely in so many ways but narrow-minded in many too. I love to find them here and there and flip through them (and copy a recipe or two) but refuse to subscribe. Re: the blender, I too went back and found the post with the info, and am very amused by your comment about being sold on the 7-yr warranty. It’s an indication of wisdom and experience, not just age…we all know the pain of replacing a blender only a year (or months) after we bought it! Going through this right now myself with a certain brand– known for their ubiquitous and awesome stand mixers — not as awesome blenders :(

  26. Kathleen

    I live in Texas. Summer feels like penance. This refreshing little pick me up comes at a perfect time. Have survived July, take a breath, plunge in to August.

  27. I’m one of those weirdos who loves summer in the city (I’d rather be hot than cold) but that drink sounds to-die-for! Bourbon and orange juice — two of my favorite drinks!

  28. Kayte

    Thank you for this recipe! It’s been in the 90*s all week here and I’m thoroughly enjoying a glassful right now. Recipe was super easy & quick to make – I appreciated not having to wait for it in the freezer. Reminds me of a summer-version of a hot toddy. Delicious.

  29. Amy

    I made this today (on the rocks since we dont have a blender) for a backyard bbq we had this evening. It was a HUGE hit! Thanks for posting this today!

    1. deb

      Jackie — It might have been my blender — and a lot of the foam appearance is from slushed ice that separated to the top. Future batches, where the concentrate was very cold from the fridge, had more of a loose, drinkable sno-cone effect. Which I loved. Did you?

  30. Emilass

    Would there possibly be a way to make this amazingness into an equally amazing non-alcoholic/kid-friendly version?
    Our family has been making slushies in various forms for years, and this one looks delicious! Must have more versions!

  31. Patricia

    I never knew I would love bourbon! This is delicious and refreshing and I has juice so it’s healthy, right? Used 1/2 brown sugar which seemed a nice idea, and also a few drops (or more) of Cointreau. All variations were equally wonderful. My new favorite drink for summer.

  32. Nicole

    I know zilch about bourbon. What (affordable) bourbons would you recommend for this delightful-looking summer beverage?

    1. deb

      Nicole — No need at all to use expensive bourbon. (It’s a long story, but that last splash in the bottle I used was … donated. We have, um, a lot of pretty good bourbon — I went a little overboard when I was in Kentucky last year — and I really wanted to reduce our bottle count before we move. Tough job, I know.) You can ask at liquor store for recommendations. Otherwise, I see no shame in using Maker’s Mark.

  33. Katy

    I made the freezer version of this punch for an afternoon on the Russian River in Guerneville. I added a little more bourbon than the recipe called for (maybe 1/3 cup more). :-p I put it in the freezer in a plastic airtight container on Friday night, and it was frozen the next morning. After sitting in a cooler bag for the drive, it thawed to a nice slushy consistency by 2pm. It was perfect and yummy and dangerous. PS I see no reason to use expensive bourbon for this recipe — I used Wild Turkey. Thanks, Deb!

  34. Kate

    Wow! I made this, following the freezing method, not the blender method. Easy and sooooo delicious for a summer’s day! Thank you for posting this!

  35. Ha! I had already bookmarked Garden and Gun’s version of the recipe, so I’m even more excited to have your improvements to it. Definitely think I’ll be doubling this one. ;)

  36. G

    There has been a version of this for adults in my neighborhood at every party and gathering since I can remember. We call it “reindeer ice” in the winter and add ginger-ale to the slushy ice that semi freezes. This version sounds much more tart and even more delicious. They are dangerous though!

    1. deb

      Laila — Are you asking because you don’t have or don’t like bourbon? I’d recommend whiskey (not very different) but if it’s the flavor profile you don’t like, that won’t help.

  37. I need one of these right now! It’s been dreadfully hot here in Los Angeles the past few days and this punch would soooo hit the spot. My friends and I are having a girls weekend this Labor Day Holiday and I think Mr. Slushy Punch will have to make an appearance. Book marking and sharing with my followers. Thanks for posting this!

  38. Joan

    My recipe is similar but I freeze it as much all the way as the bourbon will let it. Scoop with an ice cream scoop and then add some Sprite or 7-up. YUMMY!

  39. Carol Milstein

    Just saw this post, and it looks really great! I make something similar with 1 6 oz can of frozen lemonade concentrate, 1 6 oz can of grapefruit juice concentrate, and one bottle of white wine. Takes some time to freeze, but it never freezes solid because of the alcohol, and makes a yummy sweet/sour wine slush! Not quite as dangerously boozy either.

  40. Christine

    Ha, I was comment #3… and my daughter was born about 15 hours after I posted that comment. So I STILL haven’t gotten around to making this. Hopefully soon!!!

  41. Carla

    OK, so I’m wanting to make this using the oh-so-trendy smoked ice cubes for our 4th of July party this weekend. I’m thinking I’ll make the concentrate as you’ve described with an extra cup of water (or two?) then pour it over the smoked ice cubes and garnish with mint and an orange peel. My question is, will this be entirely too strong? It’s going to be hot, and the ice will be the giant whiskey ice cube (the sphere molds are just too pricey, plus I want the smoke flavor to melt into the drink to give more flavor, so I’m just fine with cubes) so it should melt and add and extra 4 oz of water to the cocktail. I just don’t want to schnocker myself and my friends too quickly!

    1. deb

      Carla — I’m totally unfamiliar with smoked ice cubes. Do you just add liquid smoke to the water or is it something more elaborate?

  42. Lauren

    If you already have an ice cream maker add the additional water as outlined in the freezer bag method chill and then pour into your ice cream maker you will have uniformed slush!

  43. Carla

    Smoked ice is the new trendy thing in drinks (according to my friend who works in food trends, anyways). But what you do to make them is put ice cubes in a shallow walled pan and put them into a smoker (we have a Traeger grill, but wood chips in the over would work too) for about an hour. Then, re-freeze the water in the large sized ice cube tray. I’ve read that it’s better smoke ice rather than water in the first step because the smoke is attracted to the colder surface and there is also more surface area on an ice cube than on water, so you get more flavor that way. Fancy cocktail places are using smoke infusions (RoCA in Des Moines, IA has something called The Smoking Gun that is a really good example) or smoked ice cubes to give more depth to the flavor profile and I’m clearly a fan!
    I’m smoking the ice/water right now on my maiden voyage. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  44. Maro

    Working our way through this decadence right now. We made a double batch,
    so I hope people come help us! This is making me feel like a total s’lush. ;)

  45. Laurel

    I want to make this to bring for a gathering with a lot of paleo-ish type people. For the sweetener, do you think coconut sugar would work? Or maybe I could use honey?

  46. Laura

    Another smoky option: cut the lemons in half (as you would prep for juicing). Place them cut side down on a smoker around 225 or 250 degrees for 30 min or so. Once juiced, this lends a delicious smoky flavor and depth to whatever you make, but it’s not at all overpowering.

  47. Lilllian

    Excellent! I added a splash of Frangelico and some dark boozy cherries to each glass just because I had them on hand. This is going to be a big hit on my next girls’ movie night.

  48. cateyanne

    i’ve made them both ways, and hands down the best way is the original. unfortunately although I like the idea of fresh citrus versus frozen concentrate, yours were just not slushy like the original. and although they get pretty frozen, I make mine anytime I want and keep a tupperware container in the freezer for when friend pop over. all I do is scoop and add a little sprite or gingerale to slushy it up! these are also great for holiday parties.

  49. Alleira

    I’m going to riff on this a little for New Year’s Eve. We’re doing the entrees for a progressive dinner with our neighbors, so thought we might serve these as a pre-dinner cocktail.

    My husband made fresh cherry bounce with bourbon this year, so I am going to use that in place of the bourbon called for in this recipe. I’ll use the fresh citrus juice called for in this recipe, but instead of doing this as a “slush” I will just add club soda to give it a little lightness and use regular ice cubes. I think the cherry with the citrus and tea will be a nice, interesting combination. Happy new year!

  50. Jennifer

    Do you think it would actually freeze solid with the alcohol in it? I would think it would just kinda stay slushy. Maybe I should up the bourbon ratio… hmm…

  51. Gabby

    Tasty as written.

    We took half the recipe & blended with ice, and put the other half in the freezer and forgot about it for a week. Today, in the heat (!!), we took it out and dumped it into the Vitamix with addition splash of bourbon – oh myyyyy. Exceptionally good.

  52. Amy P

    Whew this is a lot of bourbon! Admittedly I’m not much of a drinker so it hit me quick and I could mostly taste bourbon and not the citrus or tea. For my tastes I’ll probably cut it back to about 1/2 – 2/3 cup next time.

  53. Bonnie Pierce

    I make this by the batch and put them in individual mason jars. I take it out of the freezer a minute or 2 early and then it is pefectly slushy. A batch lasts as long as I can keep my hands off of it. I fresh squeeze equal amounts of oranges, lemons and limes. I also under sugar. I add it as needed depending on how sweet the citrus is.

  54. Katie polfer

    Wonderful flavor combination! My family used to serve something similar at holiday gatherings.

    I altered this recipe a lot, but am posting my comment to hopefully help someone.

    To use up a lot of fresh citrus, I combined 2 cups OJ/mandarin juice, and 1 cup lime with a couple lemons, the tea, and 1/3 cup simple syrup. I added 2 cups of bourbon- wanted to be sure it wouldn’t freeze. It’s really boozy, but also a bit “loose”. Next time I would use 1.5 c bourbon .
    Keeping this in mason jars (per another reviewers recommendation) in the freezer is a great idea.

  55. Susie

    Would you mind telling me what brand and model of juicer you are using, please. I have arthritis, and your auto juicer my be what I could use.
    Thank you in advance. I love your site, and all the pictures and instructions.

  56. Pz

    I made this to tonight as a summer dessert. It was awesome. It was cold, tangy, sweet, and boozy! Perfect for a hot day like today!

    Made non alcoholic version for the kids. They loved it.

  57. Laura

    This is absolutely delicious! This is the new go-to summer recipe. Peaches smelled great in the grocery store so I juiced about a couple peaches along with the citrus. Perfectly sweet, tart, just lovely. I used a strong earl Grey tea, I love the combination of all the flavors, they blend beautifully.