Spiked Strawberry Lemonade | Vodka or Bourbon
This spiked strawberry lemonade is the perfect cocktail for sipping on the patio! Made in a pitcher with homemade sparkling strawberry lemonade and bourbon (or vodka!), it’s refreshing, boozy, tart, and sweet. Make it for a BBQ, beach day, or summer dinner party!
When it comes to summer cocktails, I have a couple of stipulations. First, they must be good and boozy. And secondly, they can’t have more than a handful of ingredients. We’re going for effortless, easy-breezy here. I need something that I can mix up super quick for a dinner party like sour spaghett cocktails, berry rosé sangria, or this boozy lemonade!
Drinking this lemonade is genuinely like being a kid again, except now’s there’s bourbon. It’s nostalgic, tart, sweet, fizzy, and all around the epitome of a summer cocktail. Over the weekend, we drank this cocktail while floating the Truckee River and BBQing and it was truly a perfect summer situation.
I also became friends with a guy named Pirate Steve, but that’s a story for another day.
Why you’ll love this cocktail!
The first time I met my husband’s family, his cousin made a huge pitcher of bourbon lemonade that almost made me die. It was so good. Inspired, I dug up my old lemonade recipe from culinary school and then added strawberries, because everything is better with strawberries. Here’s why you’ll love it too!
- The recipe is super easy to make. The hardest part is puréeing the strawberries, I promise.
- We’re making this strawberry lemon cocktail in a pitcher or punch bowl, so it’s great for a crowd!
- This drink is fruity, refreshing, and perfectly boozy. Nothing crazy but it gets the job done.
- It’s truly the ultimate summer cocktail for BBQs, picnics, beach days, or bachelorette parties!
- Strawberries – I prefer fresh strawberries but frozen will also work!
- Lemons – grab a big bag of lemons so that you have enough juice to make the lemonade.
- Sugar – we will use regular granulated sugar to make simple syrup which will sweeten the drink.
- Sparkling water – plain sparkling water or club soda adds a nice fizz.
- Alcohol – I prefer bourbon but vodka is also delicious in this cocktail!
- Fresh mint – for garnish. This is totally optional!
How to make this cocktail
Make the simple syrup
- First, make the simple syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and let it bubble for about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Then, pour the simple syrup into a bowl and let it cool completely.
Prep the berries & lemons
- While the simple syrup cools, roughly slice the strawberries.
- Place the strawberries in a blender and purée until smooth.
- Then, use a citrus press (or just your hands!) to juice the lemons.
Assemble the cocktail
- Now it’s time to make the cocktail! Pour the strawberry purée into a large pitcher. Then, add the lemon juice.
- Next, add the simple syrup, sparkling water, and bourbon or vodka.
- Mix the cocktail gently with a large wooden spoon. Serve over ice and garnish with mint!
For a smoother cocktail, strain the strawberry purée before you add it to the drink. Just pour the purée through a fine mesh sieve to remove any seeds and extra pulp. Gently push the juice through the sieve with a rubber spatula to get as much strawberry juice as possible.
- Citrus press – this is genuinely one of my favorite kitchen tools! It’s super affordable and it’s the easiest way to squeeze a bunch of lemons.
- Blender – a blender will give you a super smooth strawberry purée. A food processor works too!
- Pitcher – to mix everything together! You can also use a small punch bowl.
For a single cocktail
Don’t need 8 entire drinks? Totally fine, this strawberry lemonade cocktail is super easy to make as a single cocktail. And, you don’t even have to blend the strawberries! All you need is a muddler or a wooden spoon with a thick handle. (Make sure to check out the recipe card for measurements!)
- Place a couple of chopped strawberries in a glass. Use a muddler or wooden spoon to smash the berries until they’re smooth.
- Then, fill the glass with ice. Add the lemon juice, simple syrup, sparkling water, and bourbon or vodka.
- Stir the drink well to combine. Garnish with mint and enjoy!
Storing & make-ahead
To store any leftover lemonade, cover the pitcher with a bowl cover or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 2 days. Just keep in mind that the drink will lose fizziness the longer it sits!
To make this cocktail in advance, combine the strawberry purée, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bourbon or vodka. Mix, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to serve, add the sparkling water, stir well, and serve over ice.
- Berries – you can also use blueberries or raspberries.
- Citrus – instead of lemons, try using limes to make a limeade cocktail.
- Water – for classic lemonade, use still water instead of sparkling.
- Herbs – basil is also so delicious as a garnish for this cocktail!
This strawberry lemonade cocktail works for pretty much any summer occasion. Truly everyone who tries it loves it. Make it. Double it. Put it in a huge pitcher and serve it at any of these get-togethers!
- BBQs and pool parties
- Picnics and beach days
- Bachelorette parties or bridal showers
- Baby showers
- Dinner parties and birthday parties
- Lounging on the patio – no reason needed!
If I’m serving this to my friends who don’t drink alcohol, I just leave the bourbon or vodka out. Then, my cocktail-drinking friends can add whatever alcohol they want to their own drinks! This is also a great way to serve this lemonade at a baby-shower or kid-friendly party.
Tips & tricks
- You can use frozen strawberries instead of fresh! Just make sure to defrost the berries before you blend them up.
- Always use fresh lemon juice. I find that the store-bought stuff is either too watered-down or way too acidic. Fresh lemon juice has the best flavor and tartness!
- Add the sparkling water right before you serve this cocktail. Otherwise, it will lose its fizz if it sits too long!
- Add sliced strawberries and lemon slices to the pitcher for decoration. I also like to do this last-minute so they don’t get mushy.
- Store-bought lemonade will work if you’re in a big hurry. Just combine store-bought lemonade, strawberry purée, and bourbon or vodka. It won’t taste quite as good as homemade but works in a pinch!
What alcohol goes with this lemonade?
- Bourbon – it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of bourbon, so this is obviously my go-to choice. I love how the notes of caramel, oak, and vanilla taste with the sweet strawberry and tart lemon!
- Vodka – for a more mellow flavor, make vodka strawberry lemonade. This is also a safe choice if you or your friends are not a fan of whiskey!
- Gin – go with a nice floral gin to complement the strawberry lemon.
- Rum – light rum would be absolutely delicious in this cocktail!
- Tequila – blanco tequila will give this drink a margarita vibe.
How alcoholic is this cocktail?
The alcohol percentage will depend on what type and brand of liquor you add to the cocktail. But, bourbon typically has between 40-50% of alcohol in a 1.5 ounce shot. Vodka typically has between 40-60% in each 1.5 ounce shot. This pitcher has 12 ounces of liquor, which is 8 drinks total!
Can I make this without alcohol?
Definitely! For regular sparkling strawberry lemonade, just leave out the alcohol altogether. No need to replace it with anything!
Can I make this without a blender?
Yes! If you don’t have a blender to make strawberry purée, you can use a food processor or mash the berries by hand. To do it by hand, just use a wood spoon or muddler to smash the berries until they’re nice and smooth!
Is this recipe freezer friendly?
Sadly, this recipe is not freezer friendly. The alcohol will keep the liquid from freezing and the sparkling water will lose its fizziness once it’s frozen. It’s best to just make this recipe in advance instead!
More summer cocktails
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Spiked Strawberry Lemonade (with Bourbon or Vodka!)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 pound fresh strawberries, hulled & roughly chopped
- 1 1/4 cups fresh lemon juice
- 4 cups sparkling water (cold)
- 12 ounces bourbon or vodka
- Fresh mint, lemon slices, and sliced strawberries, for garnish
- 2 strawberries, hulled & roughly chopped
- 1 1/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 ounces simple syrup
- 1/2 cup sparkling water
- 1 1/2 ounces bourbon or vodka
- Fresh mint, lemon slices, and sliced strawberries, for garnish
- Large pitcher
- Blender or food processor (optional)
- Citrus press (optional)
- To make the simple syrup, combine the sugar with 1 cup of still water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves completely. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Then, remove the simple syrup from the heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl. Let it cool completely.
- Meanwhile, add the strawberries to a blender or food processor and purée until the strawberries are very smooth. Alternatively, mash the strawberries with a muddler or wooden spoon until smooth.
- To a large pitcher, add the strawberry purée, lemon juice, cooled simple syrup, sparkling water, and bourbon. Mix gently to combine.
- Serve the lemonade over ice and garnish with lemon slices, sliced strawberries, and fresh mint. Enjoy!
- Add the strawberries to a tall glass. Use a muddler or wooden spoon to mash the strawberries until they're smooth.
- Fill the glass with ice and add the lemon juice, simple syrup, sparkling water, and bourbon or vodka.
- Stir the cocktail gently to combine. Garnish with lemon slices, sliced strawberries, and fresh mint. Enjoy!
xo Sara Lynn
Song of the Day: Little Dark Age by MGMT
This recipe was originally posted on July 10, 2018.