Cocktail: The Bourbon Buck

There are few things as satisfying as sitting down to enjoy a carefully crafted cocktail at home. Something about spending those few extra minutes mixing, muddling, and shaking makes that Old Fashioned or Manhattan all the more rewarding. But sometimes – whether it be for lack of time, energy, or desire – a simple, yet satisfying drink is needed. For those times, a Bourbon Buck is the perfect answer.

The Buck is a drink style as old as they come. At its heart, a Buck is an ounce or two of spirit, a bit of citrus juice, topped with ginger beer. It is a very generic template; insert your spirit of choice and you’ve got a Whiskey Buck, a Gin Buck, a Vodka Buck, etc. While you might often see it on the spring and summer seasonal cocktail lists, it’s just as refreshing in the fall or even in the dead of winter.

Although it goes by a slightly different name – a play on words perhaps – the most popular iteration of the Buck today is probably the Moscow Mule. While there are a few different claims to its origin, one of the more famous stories is that it was a drink developed as a marketing strategy in 1941 by Jack Morgan, owner of the Smirnoff distillery. Giving the classic Vodka Buck a catchy name and its own signature serving glass helped put the company on the map in America and in the minds of American drinkers.

While the Moscow Mule is traditionally made with Lime Juice, and you’ll often see “Kentucky Mules” made with lime juice, I find that lemon juice works a little better with the whiskey base. And although any whiskey will fair just fine, my first choice is always a solid rye (Wild Turkey 101 Rye, Rittenhouse, Bulleit) or a high rye bourbon. The rye spiciness works well with the other flavors and ensures your whiskey isn’t masked by the ginger and citrus.


Making the Drink



  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey

  • 6-8 oz Ginger Beer

  • ½ a lemon




  1. Fill a collins glass, copper mug, or mason jar with crushed ice and add 2 oz Rye Whiskey.
  2. Squeeze the juice from ½ of a lemon into the drink through a strainer to catch any seeds. Drop the lemon shell into the drink.
  3. Fill to top with ginger beer and lightly stir to mix.
  4. Garnish with a few mint sprigs if available.


Blake Smith



Blake Smith

Jordan GrigsbyComment