Kentucky Buck Cocktail

The Perfect Kentucky Buck Recipe

The Kentucky Buck is a refreshing, citrusy cocktail that dates back to the late 1800s. It is believed to have originated in Louisville, Kentucky, where it quickly became a favorite among locals. The drink features bourbon or rye whiskey as its base spirit, combined with fresh lemon juice and ginger beer for a zesty kick.

The origins of the name “buck” are somewhat unclear, but it is thought to refer to a family of drinks that were popular in the late 19th century. These drinks typically included ginger beer or ale and citrus juice, and were often served in a tall glass over ice.

As for the Kentucky Buck specifically, it gained popularity throughout Kentucky and beyond during Prohibition when bartenders would mix up cocktails using ingredients they could get their hands on – often including homemade syrups and juices. The simplicity of the Kentucky Buck recipe made it an easy go-to for many home bartenders and was popularized by local bars following repeal.


Servers: 1

  • 2 oz bourbon whiskey
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz ginger syrup (or ginger beer)
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Soda water (to top off the cocktail)
  • Garnish: Lime wheel and/or mint sprig

Taster’s Guide Tip 244: The Perfect Kentucky Buck Recipe

The Kentucky Buck cocktail recipe is that it is a refreshing and popular whiskey-based drink that originated in the United States. The recipe typically includes bourbon, fresh lemon juice, ginger ale or ginger beer, and a dash of Angostura bitters. It is often garnished with a lemon wedge or a cherry. The Kentucky Buck is known for its balanced combination of flavors, with the sweetness of bourbon complemented by the tartness of lemon and the spice of ginger, making it a delightful choice for whiskey enthusiasts and cocktail lovers alike.


  1. Fill a shaker with ice.
  2. Add 2 ounces of bourbon and 3/4 ounce of fresh lime juice to the shaker.
  3. Shake the mixture for around 15-20 seconds until chilled.
  4. Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice cubes.
  5. Top off the glass with approximately 3 ounces of ginger syrup or ginger beer.
  6. Add two dashes of Angostura bitters to the glass.
  7. Gently stir the mixture to combine all the ingredients.
  8. Pour soda water slowly into the glass, filling it to the top.
  9. Give the cocktail a final gentle stir to ensure the flavors are well mixed.
  10. Garnish with a lime wheel on the rim of the glass.
  11. Optionally, add a mint sprig as an additional garnish.
  12. Serve and enjoy!

What Makes This Cocktail Unique

One thing that sets the Kentucky Buck apart from other whiskey cocktails is its use of ginger beer as opposed to soda or tonic water. Ginger beer gives the drink a spicy sweetness that complements the bold flavors of bourbon or rye whiskey without overpowering them. Another unique aspect of this cocktail is its versatility; while many recipes call for lemon juice as the citrus component, other citrus fruits like lime or grapefruit can be used instead depending on your preference.

Some variations even include muddled fruit like strawberries or blackberries for an added layer of flavor complexity. Overall, the combination of spicy ginger beer with tart citrus flavors and rich whiskey make for a well-balanced drink that is perfect for sipping on warm evenings or serving at gatherings with friends.

Information about Ingredients

Explanation of why each ingredient is important

Bourbon whiskey is the key ingredient in a Kentucky Buck. It is a type of American whiskey that is distilled from corn mash and aged in oak barrels.

Bourbon has a rich, smooth flavor that pairs perfectly with the other ingredients in this cocktail. Fresh lime juice adds a tangy, citrusy flavor to the Kentucky Buck.

It helps balance out the sweetness from the ginger syrup and bitters. Ginger syrup (or ginger beer) gives this cocktail its unique kick.

Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe an upset stomach. The spicy-sweet flavor also makes it a popular mixer for cocktails.

Angostura bitters are made with botanicals and spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. They add depth to cocktails and help balance out sweetness.

Soda water adds some fizziness to the cocktail without affecting its taste too much. It also helps dilute the alcohol content so you can enjoy more than one drink without feeling too tipsy 🙂

Tips and tricks for perfecting the cocktail

While making this cocktail is easy enough, there are some tips that can help you make it even better. Firstly, when adding ice cubes to your glass be sure to use large cubes that will melt slowly without watering down your drink too quickly. Secondly, use quality ingredients – it makes all the difference!

Choose high-quality bourbon such as Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace and opt for freshly squeezed lime juice instead of bottled to get the best flavor possible. Don’t skimp on garnishes – they add both visual appeal and additional flavor profiles to your drink.

A sprig of mint adds freshness while slices of lime add acidity that helps balance out sweetness from ginger ale or ginger beer. By following these tips you can easily create an impeccable Kentucky Buck that will impress even the most discerning cocktail connoisseurs!

Kentucky Buck Cocktail


A world of possibilities

One of the great things about cocktails is their versatility. With a few simple tweaks, you can create a completely different flavor profile. Here are some ideas for customizing your Kentucky Buck:

1. Swap the base spirit: While bourbon is traditional for this cocktail, you can experiment with other types of whiskey or even rum or tequila to create a unique twist.

2. Add fruit: Muddle fresh berries like strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries in the bottom of your shaker tin before adding the rest of your ingredients for a fruity variation.

3. Spice it up: For a little extra kick, try adding jalapeño slices or spicy ginger beer to your recipe.

4. Sweeten to taste: The standard recipe calls for honey syrup, but you can adjust the sweetness level by using simple syrup or agave nectar instead.

Suggestions for substitutions or additions

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to experiment with even more flavors and ingredients, here are some suggestions to get you started: Lemon juice: If you prefer things on the sour side, try using lemon juice instead of lime juice in your recipe. Bitters: Adding a couple dashes of bitters (such as Angostura) will give your Kentucky Buck more depth and complexity.

Citrus liqueurs: A splash of Cointreau or Grand Marnier can add an orangey note to your cocktail that complements the other flavors nicely. Mint leaves: For an extra burst of freshness, muddle in some mint leaves along with your other ingredients.

With so many possible variations and adjustments to this classic cocktail recipe, there’s no excuse not to get creative and customize it to your liking. The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to experiment and discover your new favorite version of the Kentucky Buck.

Serving Suggestions

Ideas for Garnishes and Presentation

When it comes to serving a delicious Kentucky Buck cocktail, presentation is key. A beautiful garnish can take your cocktail from ordinary to extraordinary, impressing your guests with both taste and style.

Some great garnish options for a Kentucky Buck include fresh mint leaves, a slice of lemon or lime, or even a sprig of rosemary for an added touch of flavor. For a more dramatic presentation, consider rimming the glass with sugar or salt and adding a citrus twist for an added burst of flavor.

Or try serving your Kentucky Buck in a mason jar filled with crushed ice and topped with a colorful paper straw. Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with different garnishes until you find the perfect one!

Choosing the right glassware for your Kentucky Buck is also important. A traditional highball glass is typically used for this cocktail, but you can also opt for a Collins glass if you prefer something taller. The glass should be filled with ice before pouring in the mixture to keep it chilled.

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your ingredients, it’s important to know how to properly mix and serve your Kentucky Buck cocktail. Start by filling your shaker with ice before adding all of the ingredients listed in the recipe.

Give everything a good shake until well combined before straining into your chosen glassware. If you don’t have access to a shaker, no worries!

You can always mix everything right in the glass using a long spoon or even just give everything a good stir using any handy utensil on hand. Whatever method you choose, be sure to pour slowly so as not to disturb any garnishes already added before serving it up fresh!

Kentucky Buck Cocktail

Fun Facts

The Origins of the Kentucky Buck

The Kentucky Buck cocktail has its roots in the classic Gin Buck, a simple mixture of gin, ginger ale, and lime juice. However, when bourbon became the spirit of choice in the United States during Prohibition, bartenders began to experiment with adding it to the Buck recipe.

This led to the creation of the Kentucky Buck as we know it today. Interestingly enough, the name “Buck” comes from an old slang term for a serving of ginger ale or beer mixed with a spirit.

So technically speaking, any variation of this drink could be considered a buck! But for those who appreciate a good whiskey-based cocktail with a kick of ginger and citrus, there’s nothing quite like a classic Kentucky Buck.

The Evolution of the Recipe

Over time, mixologists have put their own spin on the Kentucky Buck recipe. Some variations call for swapping out bourbon with rye whiskey or tequila, while others add fresh fruit like strawberries or peaches to give it an extra layer of flavor.

One popular variation is known as the Ginger Rogers: made with gin instead of bourbon and topped off with sparkling wine. In recent years, bartenders have also started experimenting with different ginger beers to add different levels of spice and sweetness to their cocktails.

Some choose spicy ginger beers that pack a punch while others opt for sweeter varieties that balance out some of the bitterness from citrus juice. No matter how you mix it up though, one thing remains constant: this cocktail is all about balancing flavors and creating something that’s both bold and refreshing at once.

Trivia Tidbits

Did you know that some historians believe George Washington himself may have enjoyed a version of this cocktail? It’s true – records show that he was quite fond of ginger ale! Another fun fact: during the 1930s and ’40s, the Kentucky Buck was a popular drink among Hollywood celebrities.

Clark Gable was known to enjoy them, as was Frank Sinatra. And finally, for those who like to get technical: the official recipe for a Kentucky Buck calls for a “jigger” of bourbon.

For those who aren’t familiar with bartending measurements, a jigger is roughly equivalent to 1.5 ounces of liquid. So pour yourself a jigger’s worth of your favorite bourbon and mix up this classic cocktail – you won’t regret it!


The Kentucky Buck is a classic cocktail that infuses bourbon with refreshing citrus and ginger flavors. The combination of sweet, sour, and spicy notes creates a perfectly balanced drink that is sure to satisfy even the pickiest of palates.

To make this cocktail at home, gather your ingredients, muddle them together, shake with ice, and strain into a glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a slice of lime and enjoy!

The key to making a great Kentucky Buck is using high-quality ingredients. Choose a good quality bourbon that you enjoy drinking on its own, as this will be the base of your cocktail.

Use fresh-squeezed lemon juice for a bright burst of flavor and homemade ginger syrup for an extra kick. Don’t forget the soda water to add some effervescence to the mix.

Encouragement to Try Making It at Home or Ordering It at a Bar

Whether you’re looking for something new to try at home or want to impress your friends with your bartending skills, the Kentucky Buck is an excellent choice. With its combination of bold flavors and easy-to-find ingredients, it’s perfect for both novice mixologists and seasoned professionals alike.

If you’re not in the mood to make it yourself, head out to your local bar and order one instead! Many bars now have their own unique twists on this classic cocktail that are worth trying out.

You might even discover a new favorite variation! No matter how you choose to enjoy it, just remember: sipping on a perfectly mixed Kentucky Buck is like taking a sip of history.

This classic cocktail has stood the test of time for good reason – it’s simply delicious! So go ahead – grab your shaker and get mixing!

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