Playboy Bourbon Cooler | party with Hef & Co. like its 1968

A refreshing summer drink for your next “24 hr Swingers Party”

The inspiration for this intriguing bourbon cooler came from Alberta’s collection of vintage Playboy magazines.  In an issue from ’68, editors promoted a new type of get-together for sybaritic suburbanites: the “24hr Swingers’ Party”.  Lascivious photos accompanied the article depicting a scene of Mad-cap Mod Mayhem.  The editors took the drinking aspect of the party with the most seriousness, designating specific spirits, wine, or aperitif for each hour of festivities, beginning at 10 am.  The Bourbon Cooler was served at two in the afternoon, the hour which Playboy deemed appropriate to begin drinking the “darker spirits”.

While restricting whiskey to the hours after two o’clock is admittedly a questionable concept, the recipe for the Bourbon Cooler was appealing because of its unexpected use of cucumber peel as a garnish.  (Known for using cucumber in cocktails with vodka or gin, whiskey was an unexplored territory with Alberta’s favorite fresh ingredient.) Tall and refreshing, with Maker’s Mark, fresh lime, cranberry juice, and the spicy heat of ginger, the Playboy Bourbon Cooler is designed to refresh and rejuvenate after a long day at the office or working in the sun.

In the video above Miss Flighty mixes a version of the Playboy Bourbon Cooler that includes her signature Ginger Cardamom Syrup, and Hibiscus Flower Mixer.  While it is tasty enough to merit the extra steps,  the recipe below  offers a Bunny Approved streamlined substitute.

Playboy Bourbon Cooler — early Flighty variant

the Playboy Bourbon Cooler

  1. 2 oz. fine Bourbon (Maker’s Mark or Jim Beam)
  2. splash Punt e Mes or Sweet Vermouth
  3. 1/2 fresh lime
  4. match with simple syrup (or even better, Miss Flighty’s Ginger Cardamom Syrup)
  5. 2-3 thin slices fresh ginger
  6. 1-2 oz (depending on the size of your glass) Cranberry juice
  7. peel of organic non-waxed cucumber
  8. ginger beer
  9. orange slice (optional)

In a tall glass add the bourbon, ginger, lime and sugar.  Wash and dry the cucumber, and with a hand peeler or mandolin slice 2-3 generous pieces and 3 wafer thin wheels.  Put in the cucumber wheels and muddle all gently.  Throw in a half wheel of orange for extra flavor, muddle again.  Add cranberry juice and stir.  Ice is next, a couple of cubes, and then slide the cucumber peel down the side of the glass and hold it there, adding more ice until glass is nearly filled.  Top with Ginger Beer and agitate gently with the end of your bar spoon.  A ginger slice and orange slice make a nice garnish, add a splash of bitters for aromatics.

Vintage reproduction barware from the Playboy Store

Check out these way H-O-T pint sized mixing glasses with from the Playboy Store with VaVaVooom 60s Bunny Centerfolds!! Admittedly, this is a shameless marketing ploy, if you clink on one and buy it Miss Flighty earns about 1/10 of a cent, so all I have to do is sell around  500 of these babies and I can buy myself some Maker’s Mark to make my own Bourbon Cooler!  But for reals, aren’t they cool?  I am totally saving up to get some ’cause you have to be ready–you never know when you’ll get an invite to a 24 Hr. Swingers’ Party and I want to be ready.

LeNell Smothers’ Playboy Bourbon Cooler Party Punch Recipe

The Babe of Bourbon, Ms. LeNell Smothersformer owner of LeNell’s Liquor in Red Hook–Brooklyn–whips up her own punch variant of the Playboy Bourbon Cooler for her cocktail column LeNell it All at Slashfood.  LeNell mixes enough for guest turnng the tall drink into a party sized punch.  She also includes her version of Miss Flighty’s Ginger Cardamom Syrup, Jamaica, and Cucumber Spa Mix.  LeNell is an absolutely fabulous bartender, incredibly knowledgeable about wine and spirits, and best of all she’ a lot of fun so check her out in her new digs down in Baja California.

LeNell Smothers’ Playboy Bourbon Punch at Slashfood


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