Bourbon Crusta Cocktail Recipe

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Bourbon Crusta Nutrition Facts





Alcohol %:~30

Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Crusta is believed to have been invented by Joseph Santini in New Orleans around the 1850s. It's a style of cocktail that is characterized by a sugared rim and a large swath of citrus peel lining the glass. Bourbon Crusta is a variation that uses bourbon as its base spirit.

  • Who would like it? Bourbon lovers and those who appreciate classic cocktails with a twist will enjoy the Bourbon Crusta. It's a drink with history and character, perfect for sipping slowly and savoring.

How Bourbon Crusta Tastes?

The Bourbon Crusta is a harmonious blend of sweet, sour, and strong flavors. The bourbon provides a robust and woody backbone, while the citrus and sugar create a refreshing and zesty contrast.

Interesting facts about Bourbon Crusta

  • The Crusta is considered a precursor to the modern-day Margarita due to its sugared rim.
  • The original Crusta was made with brandy, not bourbon.
  • The large citrus peel garnish is a distinctive feature that sets the Crusta apart from other cocktails.


  • Bourbon: 2 oz(60ml)
  • Lemon juice: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Orange liqueur: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Maraschino liqueur: 0.25 oz(8ml)
  • Simple syrup: 0.25 oz(8ml)
  • Lemon peel: 1pc
  • Sugar: for rim


  • Why: The soul of the cocktail; its rich, caramel notes provide warmth and depth. Consequences of changing: If you go overboard, you'll overshadow the other flavors. Less, and you lose the backbone of the drink. Alternatives: Swapping for rye whiskey would add spicier notes.

Alex Green

Lemon Juice

  • Why: Brightens the cocktail with zesty acidity, balancing the sweetness. Consequences of changing: Too much makes it sour, not enough, and the drink is cloyingly sweet. Alternatives: Lime juice could substitute for a tangier profile.

Mary Mitkina

Orange Liqueur

  • Why: Adds a subtle, citrus sweetness that complements the lemon. Consequences of changing: Altering the amount can either overpower the citrus or make it hardly noticeable. Alternatives: Triple sec or Cointreau can be used interchangeably.

Emma Rose

Maraschino Liqueur

  • Why: Provides a hint of cherry almond complexity. Consequences of changing: More can make the drink overly sweet and perfumed; less and you'll miss out on the nuanced flavor. Alternatives: A tiny splash of almond extract could mimic some maraschino traits.

Alex Green

Simple Syrup

  • Why: It's the sweetener that melds the flavors smoothly. Consequences of changing: Too sweet or not sweet enough can throw off the cocktail's balance. Alternatives: Honey syrup could add a more earthy sweetness.

Mary Mitkina

Lemon Peel

  • Why: Adds a fragrant garnish and zesty oils to the drink's surface. Consequences of changing: Without it, you miss the aromatic prelude to sipping the cocktail. Alternatives: Orange peel can add a different citrus aroma.

Emma Rose

Sugar for rim

  • Why: Provides a sweet start to each sip and textural contrast. Consequences of changing: Without it, you lose an element of decoration and initial sweetness. Alternatives: A spiced sugar rim, like with cinnamon, could add a twist.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Bourbon Crusta Drink

  1. Rim a glass with sugar.
  2. Line the glass with a large lemon peel.
  3. In a shaker, combine bourbon, lemon juice, orange liqueur, maraschino liqueur, and simple syrup.
  4. Fill the shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
  5. Strain the mixture into the prepared glass.
  6. Serve immediately.

Pro Tips

  • Chill the glass beforehand to keep the cocktail cool longer.
  • When rimming the glass with sugar, make sure it's even for a better presentation.
  • Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.

Perfect Pairings


  • Spicy Cajun shrimp: The sweetness of the cocktail will counter the heat of the shrimp perfectly.
  • Glazed pork belly bites: A perfect combination of fat, sweet, and bourbon.
  • Gorgonzola-stuffed mushrooms: The earthy flavors marry well with the citrus and sweet notes of the cocktail.

Main Courses

  • Grilled steak: The robust flavor of bourbon stands up to the charred, meaty steak.
  • Roast duck with orange sauce: Complements the orange liqueur in the drink.


  • Lemon tart: Echoes the lemon in the cocktail for a consistent flavor theme.
  • Dark chocolate mousse: Chocolate and bourbon are a classic match, with the richness of the mousse balanced by the acidity of the drink.

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What you could change in Bourbon Crusta

  • Bourbon: You can use rye whiskey for a spicier kick.
  • Orange Liqueur: Triple sec or Cointreau are good substitutes.
  • Maraschino Liqueur: Luxardo Maraschino is the classic choice, but any maraschino will do.

Explore all drinks starting with B here

And of course - twists🍹

Bourbon Crusta with a Smoky Twist

  • Ingredients: Replace bourbon with 2oz of smoky Scotch.
  • Recipe: Follow the original recipe, just swap out the bourbon for Scotch.
  • Flavor change: This adds a peaty, smoky dimension that's perfect for those who crave depth.

Spiced Crusta

  • Ingredients: Add a pinch of cayenne to the sugar rim, and use honey syrup instead of simple syrup.
  • Recipe: The process is the same, but with cayenne coated rim and honey syrup.
  • Flavor change: The cayenne adds a fiery sweetness that's balanced by the richness of honey.

Citrus Burst Bourbon Crusta

  • Ingredients: Add an extra 0.25oz of both lemon juice and a splash of grapefruit juice.
  • Recipe: Incorporate these into the shaking process for an extra citrus punch.
  • Flavor change: Brighter, more pronounced citrus notes that make for a refreshing summer sip.

In case you forgot basics how to make Bourbon Crusta

The basic composition of simple syrup is relatively straightforward – a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. This mixture is heated until the sugar dissolves, resulting in a clear, sweet syrup.

Learn everything about simple syrup

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

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Frequently Asked Questions on Bourbon Crusta

How do I achieve the perfect sugar rim for my Bourbon Crusta?

Gently run a lemon wedge around the rim of the glass to moisten it lightly. Then, dip the rim in a shallow plate of superfine sugar, twisting the glass slightly to ensure an even coat. Tap off the excess sugar before adding your cocktail.

Can I make the Bourbon Crusta in advance?

It's best made fresh due to the citrus juice and sugared rim, but you can premix the bourbon, orange liqueur, maraschino liqueur, and simple syrup. Add lemon juice and garnish when serving.

What type of bourbon is best for a Bourbon Crusta?

A bourbon with a balanced profile and not overly high proof works well to complement the cocktail's other ingredients without overpowering them. An 80 to 100 proof bourbon is typically ideal.

Are there any special techniques to express the lemon peel over the Bourbon Crusta?

After cutting a long swath of lemon peel, twist it over the glass to release the oils onto the surface of the drink. Run the peel around the rim, then spiral it inside the glass for the full effect.

What's the best glassware to serve a Bourbon Crusta in?

Traditionally, a Crusta is served in a stemmed glass such as a wine glass or a coupe, which helps showcase the sugared rim and lemon peel garnish while making it easy to sip.

Is it important to use fresh lemon juice for my Bourbon Crusta?

Absolutely. Fresh lemon juice is key to achieving the right balance of flavors. Bottled lemon juice can contain preservatives and has a different flavor profile that may affect the cocktail's taste.

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