Get Lit for Labor Day with The Raspberry Smash

September is the last summer month where we really get to have fun. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that there is nothing more reminiscent of September fun than smashing tiny fruits and jamming them into a cup with alcohol. That’s why we have the raspberry smash. Bubbly, beautiful, and blasted with flavor, this refreshing ode to a good time is the key to helping us pretend like summer is forever, and not a fleeting few months before winter’s icy hand forces us to put on 800 layers of clothing and face the elements like cavemen.

The secret to this bountiful beverage lies within its simplicity - despite it looking complicated, the raspberry smash is actually one of the easier drinks in the average bartender’s roster. That’s great news for you, because it means you can wow your friends and/or family with a fancy drink you didn’t even work that hard on. And also everyone gets drunk. It’s a win/win. 

Get your drinking cap on, because you’re about to get mad educated on the history and how-to of the raspberry smash. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn! Or, if you’re in a hurry, just skip to the recipe. But know that you’re gonna miss some comedy bangers. 

Let’s get started! 

A Brief History of the Smash-style Cocktail 

The origins of the first raspberry smash are unknown, but we do know that it derives from the whiskey smash, which goes all the way back to the 19th century. 

The concept of a ‘Smash’ beverage was first recorded in an 1887 recipe book, “The Bartenders Guide”, by Jerry Thomas. 

This recipe detailed how to make the original Whiskey Smash, the fruity neighbor to the Mint Julep. However, one can only assume that fruit and whiskey have been partners in alcoholic crime for far longer than that, because people have been making juleps and whiskey sours since the 1700s. 

Smashes made the rounds for decades, but eventually hit their stride in the 1980s because of legendary bartender Dale DeGroff.

DeGroff worked at the Rainbow Room in New York in the late 1980s, and added whiskey smashes to the menu. His version included bourbon, muddled lemon wedges, and mint, which became extremely popular and brought the whiskey sour into stardom. 

DeGroff claimed it became popular because it’s “the perfect cocktail for those who say they’ll never drink whiskey”. 

He claims the citrus-and-mint combo is a great way to mask some of the intensity that whiskey brings. It’s also popular due to its flexibility - using whiskey, bourbon or rye are all appropriate, and changing the fruit you use is completely fine as well. Hence the eventual creation of the raspberry smash!

What’s the difference between a Whiskey Smash and a Raspberry Smash?

As we’ve learned from history, there are very few differences between these two summer beverages. The raspberry smash branched from the whiskey smash, and with that branch came 2 changes: the alcohol, and the fruit. A whiskey smash will use lemon and whiskey, while the raspberry smash uses bourbon whiskey, lime juice, and raspberries. That’s all! Beyond that, the two drinks are nearly identical.

What’s a Raspberry Smash made of?

As stated, this is a very flexible beverage and can be tailored to meet your taste bud’s needs. The basic smash is most often made with bourbon, lime juice, a fruit of choice, mint leaves, simple syrup, and club soda. You can also use seltzer, but it may not be as lively.  

Raspberry smashes are about the same, except a bit sweeter. And also you’ll need raspberries (of course). A great tip is to use raspberries that are either ripe or a little over-ripe. See if you can find any in your fridge that look like they might be a little past their prime. Those are the perfect raspberries to use for this recipe! 

The Ultimate Raspberry Smash Recipe

At last, the magnum opus of the article. This is what the people came to see. I will not disappoint you, dear blog reader. I have prepared what you need right here. 

To make this southern sensation, you’re going to need the following: 

Ingredients:

    • 1.5 oz bourbon
    • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
    • ¼ cup raspberries
    • 4 fresh mint leaves
    • 1-2 tsp simple syrup (your call)
    • A splash of club soda or seltzer
    • Ice

Once you’ve gathered all your ingredients, you’re going to need a muddler and a cocktail shaker. If you don’t have either of those, I highly recommend this bartending kit which comes with both, and also makes you look like the coolest home bartender there ever was. 

Make it in 4 Easy Steps:

  1. Using the muddler, you’re going to want to muddle the raspberries and mint together in the bottom of the glass.
  2. Add ice to your cocktail shaker, then pour in the bourbon, simple syrup, and lime juice.
  3. Shake it super vigorously (I often put on a song to shake to, because I have the attention span of a fly and am prone to mid-shake distraction) until the liquid inside is completely chilled.
  4. Pour the beverage into your raspberry-mint mash over ice, and you’re done! 

Top your raspberry smash with a splash of club soda, and garnish with a sprig of mint. I also recommend adding a non-smashed raspberry on top, because it looks pretty suave. 

This recipe serves about 4 drinks, so find 3 people you want to drink with if possible.

Raspberry Smash Serving Tips

While this is the ultimate drink for a good time, that doesn’t mean it can be served lukewarm in a solo cup (just typing that brought me back to college. I’m nauseous). This smashing spirit is a serum of the south, and should be treated with as much elegance and care as the beloved southern Mint Julep. Imagine it as a fancy way to cool off in the hot summer heat. 

This means serving your raspberry smash in a julep cup, a mason jar, or a fancy glass. Anything less and you’re doing this drink a disservice. 

This is the perfect beverage for an end-of-summer outdoor party. Get your porch lights out, grab a speaker, and invite some pals over to enjoy this drink together!

What Food Goes with a Raspberry Smash?

A raspberry smash is pretty sweet, and should often follow something light and sweet as well. Other fruits such as apricot, blackberry, blueberry, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, limes, mangoes, oranges, peaches, and pears are a great pairing with this beverage, so it’s never a bad idea to head in the direction of a shared tart or fruity dessert

If you’re looking for meal pairings, the raspberry smash goes great with flavors like  tomatoes, basil, horseradish, hibiscus, and black olives. Any food containing these elements would be an exceptional pairing with this sweet sipper. 

Final Thoughts

Now you know everything you need to spread the word of the great raspberry smash. It’s time to get out there and enjoy September while it lasts, because soon the winds of fall will pick up, and you’ll be seeing Halloween-themed cocktails at every turn (including here). Happy sipping! 

 

Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor