Bourbon Sweet Tea Cocktail


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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.

overhead image of bourbon sweet tea cocktail in a mason jar with ice and lemons

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 favorites, the Paper Plane Cocktail, Last Word Cocktail and Green Tea Cocktail), and I hope it will be at yours too! 

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Sweet tea in a pitcher on a white table

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 JuiceSimmer 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.
lemons and fresh ginger on a wooden cutting board

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Make Ahead

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.

bourbon sweet tea being poured from a glass container into a mason jar


Can I use less sugar?

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.

What is the best tea for sweet tea?

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. 

three mason jars filled with ice, lemons, and bourbon sweet tea cocktail

More Summer Friendly Drinks

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bourbon sweet tea cocktail in a mason jar with crushed ice around it
4.70 from 26 votes

Bourbon Sweet Tea Cocktail Recipe

Tart lemon and sweet sugar balance the bitterness of the black tea and tang of the alcohol in this summer-friendly Lemon Bourbon Sweet Tea. Make this batch cocktail ahead of time and store it in the fridge in a pitcher for up to a week.
This makes 6 (1-cup) servings. Want to adjust the servings in this recipe? Just click on the number next to “servings” to scale up or down.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 6 minutes
Total: 26 minutes
Servings: 6


  • Saucepan
  • Pitcher


For Tea:

  • 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)
  • 1/2 cup Lemon Juice
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) Bourbon
  • 12 dashes Bitters

For Serving/Garnish:

  • Ice
  • 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.


Ginger – Ginger is completely optional, but it gives the finished tea a warm, subtly spicy flavor that goes so well with black tea that I wanted to include it as an option. For a mild ginger flavor, leave the piece of ginger whole and just simmer it in the simple syrup. For a stronger ginger flavor, grate the ginger before combining it with water and sugar. 
Simple Syrup – Feel free to use as much or as little simple syrup in this drink as you’d like. We all have slightly different preferences when it comes to the level of sweetness we like in our tea. You can also leave all or some of the simple syrup out so that everyone can customize their drink to their own preferred level of sweetness.


Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 15mg | Potassium: 21mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $8.00
Calories: 209
Keyword: batch cocktail, bourbon, summer cocktail
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

4.70 from 26 votes (24 ratings without comment)

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  1. 5 stars
    This is excellent! Made a large batch for a Master’s party last year and am making again. The Earl Grey, bitters and ginger really add a nice depth of flavor. I did use quite a bit more bourbon than the recipe calls for, but that’s personal preference.

    1. So glad you liked it! My husband is 100% with you – when he makes this, he liked the bourbon flavor to really come through, so he always increases it.

  2. 5 stars
    This drink is delicious. Such a fun summer drink that’s easy enough, but also fancy enough that it turns an at-home date night into something special. Will be looking forward to making this again next summer!