A Perfect Spicy Summer Cocktail to Encourage the Sun: Kentucky Sling

Kentucky sling

It’s a typical British August Friday: the sun is struggling to peep through a far-reaching blanket of cloud and we’re all looking forward to a weekend running after any chink in this sky-armour in search of a good bask. Apart from attempted sun-worshiping, a foolish but nobel pastime, I am reminded of the joys of the weekend. My meaning here of course is that it’s a perfect excuse (none needed) for a cocktail. Enter the Kentucky Sling. This is a particularly bold one with punchy flavours of lime, ginger and coriander (do not fear, it fits in brilliantly) with a warming chilli zing lasting long after the drink is gone. This cocktail makes a nod to Southeast Asian flavours which, while they won’t exactly transport a white sand beach to the bottom of your garden, help you on the way to the vacation fantasy. The drink fuses Thai flavours with smokey Kentucky bourbon which brings a warm backbone to the drink and balances perfectly with the perfumed honey to whisk the drinker to a little weekend paradise (I’m promising a lot here).

The secret here is in the extraction of the fragrant oils contained in the herbal elements. This is achieved through the process of muddling – great if you have a dedicated cocktail muddler but equally achievable with the handle of a wooden spoon or a small rolling pin – I’ve even used the end of a sturdy shot glass before to crush the contents. As with the muddler, a dedicated cocktail shaker is the best tool for the job (the Boston variety is my preference) but this can be made in any large receptacle such as a ‘two teabag’ mug or a pint glass. If in this situation, a good stir is preferable to a shake (for obvious reasons) before straining the drink by holding back the ice and herbs with a fork.

Kentucky Sling

  • 50ml (two parts) Bourbon Whiskey
  • Thumb Fresh Ginger, Sliced
  • Quarter of a Medium Red Chilli, Sliced
  • Handful of Fresh Coriander, stalks and all
  • Half a Lime, Quartered
  • 2 Teaspoons Honey
  • Ice


In a cocktail shaker, muddle together the ginger, chilli, coriander and lime quarters until the lime has given off all of its juice and the other ingredients are well crushed.

Add two teaspoons of honey (as much as you can get off the spoon) and stir (with bar spoon or long handled ice-cream sundae style spoon) with the limey mixture until it looks well incorporated.

At the double measure (50ml) of bourbon and continue to mix for around 30 seconds to let the flavours infuse.

Add enough ice to almost fill the shaker along with a dash of water (around one measure – 25ml).

Clamp on the top half of the shaker and shake (or stir) for 30 seconds to a minute to fully chill the cocktail and to let the ice melt a little. Your mixer here is the water that comes from the ice-cubes.

Strain into an old-fashioned glass (or any squat tumbler), over ice and garnish with a thin slice of lime.


I like to enjoy mine with a sweet chilli snack and makes a great intro into any southeast asian dish such as a laksa or a pad thai.

Cocktail montageIMG_8108