Easy bourbon sweet tea is an easy, refreshing summer cocktail to make in batches. Lemon juice, sugar, brewed tea, and bourbon give the tea tart, sweet flavor.
This batch cocktail is perfect for porch-sitting, hot summer nights, and the soundtrack of cicadas. And that is exactly how we’ve been enjoying it. Poured over a big glass of ice with lemon wedges and fresh sprigs of mint (and maybe a fun summer appetizer on the side), it is one of the most refreshing cocktails for summer. The flavor of bourbon is definitely there, but the warming spices in the tea and the freshness of lemon juice give it balance. It’s the official grown-up drink of summer at our house (along with our other favorite, the paper plane cocktail), and I hope it will be at yours too!
Here’s how to make it.
Ingredients for Lemon Bourbon Sweet Tea
- Black Tea - Black tea is a great choice for making sweet tea. Any type will work, but Earl Grey is a great choice.
- White Sugar, Ginger, and Lemon Juice - Simmer these in water to make a flavored simple syrup.
- Bourbon - We preferred this Southern-inspired cocktail with bourbon, but we also tested it with our favorite local gin and loved those flavors as well!
- Bitters - Frank always says that bitters are like the “salt” of the cocktail world. This cocktail will taste flat without them. Don’t skip the bitters and feel free to add more, to taste.
You can make a full batch of bourbon tea cocktail and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week.
What is Simple Syrup?
Simple syrup is sugar dissolved in hot water. A basic simple syrup uses a ratio of 1:1 water to sugar.
Simple syrup is perfect for sweetening drinks. The sugar crystals are fully dissolved in water so you can add it to very cold drinks. The simple syrup used for this bourbon cocktail is flavored with ginger and lemon juice.
Yes. Make the full batch of simple syrup and then only add as much as you like. You can even serve simple syrup on the side and add it to each cocktail individually.
Black tea makes great sweet tea. Its natural bitterness balances the sugar for a classic sweet tea. Earl Grey is a great option for sweet tea because it contains bergamot - a fruit that gives the tea a subtle citrus flavor.
More Summer-Friendly Drinks
- Watermelon Frose
- Cold Brew Coffee Spritzer
- Passion Fruit Mojitos
- Pear and Lime Sangria
- Watermelon Lime Cooler
Bourbon Sweet Tea Cocktail Recipe
- 7 cups Water, divided
- 6 bags Black Tea (we like this with Earl Grey)
- 1 cup White Sugar
- 1 inch Ginger, peeled (optional, see note)
- ½ cup Lemon Juice
- 6 ounces (¾ cup) Bourbon
- 12 dashes Bitters
- Lemon Slices or Peel
- Fresh Mint
- Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add tea bags and brew according to package directions, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Strain off tea bags (do not squeeze or press down on the tea bags as you strain them or the tea will be bitter).
- While tea is brewing, combine 1 cup water, sugar, ginger, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and simmer just until the sugar is fully dissolved. Pour syrup through a fine strainer (this will remove any pieces of ginger or lemon pulp).
- Combine tea and simple syrup. (Note: Taste the tea as you go and reduce the amount of simple syrup if you’d prefer it less sweet.)
- Stir bourbon and bitters into the tea.
- At this point the tea can be refrigerated for up to a week.
- Serve tea over ice with lemon slices and / or fresh mint for garnish.