Red Raider Cocktail Recipe

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Red Raider Nutrition Facts






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 16, 2024


The Red Raider cocktail is a vibrant and bold drink that is said to have originated in the southern United States. It's a favorite among bourbon enthusiasts who appreciate a citrus twist to their drink.

  • Origins The exact origins are a bit hazy, but it's believed to have been concocted in a college town, paying homage to the local team's colors.
  • Popularity It gained popularity for its balance of sweetness and tartness, making it a hit at tailgate parties and barbecues.
  • Audience It's particularly favored by those who enjoy a strong, yet refreshing cocktail with a kick.

How Red Raider Tastes?

The Red Raider offers a harmonious blend of sweet and sour with a robust bourbon backbone. The triple sec provides a subtle orange sweetness, while the lemon juice adds a zesty tang. The grenadine offers a hint of pomegranate-like sweetness and gives the drink its signature red hue.

Interesting facts about Red Raider

  • The Red Raider's name is often associated with sports teams, particularly in Texas Tech University.
  • The cocktail's red color makes it a popular choice for themed parties and festive occasions.
  • Despite its simplicity, the Red Raider is a versatile cocktail that can be dressed up or down for any event.


  • Bourbon: 1 oz(30ml)
  • Triple sec: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Lemon juice: 1 oz(30ml)
  • Grenadine: 2dashes

Red Raider Cocktail Ingredient Details

Bourbon: Bold and beautiful! Bourbon brings a robust smoky-caramel flavor that stands as the backbone of the Red Raider. Too much and you'll be walking the plank, too little and the cocktail is a tad 'ghostly'. A smokey variance? Try Mezcal for a heavier smoke profile.

Triple Sec: This citrus liqueur adds a zesty kick! It's like the life of the party in a bottle. If you're out of triple sec, you could flirt with Cointreau or another orange liqueur, just be prepared for a slightly different sweet dance.

Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice is non-negotiable here - it's like the spark in a relationship, adding brightness and balance. Bottled juice could leave the party early, making your drink dull. Keep it fresh!

Grenadine: Two dashes should suffice unless you have a sweet tooth the size of Texas! Grenadine gives that hint of sweetness and a rosy blush. Too much could turn your Raider into a toothache, too little and it may not catch the eye.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Red Raider Drink

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Pour in 1 ounce of bourbon.
  3. Add 1/2 ounce of triple sec.
  4. Squeeze in 1 ounce of fresh lemon juice.
  5. Drop in 2 dashes of grenadine.
  6. Shake well until the mixture is chilled.
  7. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  8. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Pro Tips

  • Chill the Glass: Before serving, chill the cocktail glass in the freezer to keep the drink colder for longer.
  • Fresh Ingredients: Always use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
  • Grenadine Quality: Opt for a high-quality grenadine to avoid an overly sweet and artificial taste.

Perfect Pairings

Pairings for Red Raider Cocktail


  • Grilled shrimp skewers: The smoky flavor of grilled shrimp complements the boldness of the bourbon.
  • Spicy nuts: Nuts with a kick of spice contrast nicely with the sweet and citrus notes of the cocktail.

Main Courses:

  • Barbecue pork ribs: The rich flavors of barbecue marry well with the smoky and sweet notes of the Red Raider.
  • Cajun chicken: The spices in Cajun cuisine will be balanced out by the cocktail's sweetness and acidity.


  • Lemon tart: A dessert with tartness to match the citrus in the drink.
  • Chocolate fondue: Chocolate's bitterness provides a pleasant counterpoint to the Red Raider's sweetness.


  • Cold brew coffee: The coffee's bitterness and the cocktail's sweetness could play well off each other for an after-dinner pairing.

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What you could change in Red Raider

  • Bourbon: Can be substituted with another type of whiskey if bourbon is not available.
  • Triple Sec: Cointreau or any other orange-flavored liqueur can be used as a substitute.
  • Grenadine: If you don't have grenadine, a raspberry or cherry syrup can provide a similar color and a slightly different sweet flavor.

Explore all drinks starting with R here

And of course - twists🍹

Twists on the Red Raider Cocktail

1. Spicy Red Raider:

  • Add a slice of jalapeño or a dash of hot sauce to the shaker before mixing. This will give the drink a fiery twist that warms you up from the inside.

2. Purple Raider:

  • Substitute blue curacao for triple sec and blackberry liqueur for grenadine. The taste will be fruitier and the color will be a striking purple.

3. Smoke on the Water Raider:

  • Use smoked bourbon and a hint of Lapsang Souchong tea syrup instead of grenadine. This version rides the smoky waves, offering an intense and mysterious allure.

In case you forgot basics how to make Red Raider

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 Red Raider

What type of glass is best suited for serving the Red Raider cocktail?

The Red Raider is traditionally served in a chilled cocktail glass, preferably a coupe or a martini glass to enhance the drinking experience.

Can the Red Raider cocktail be batched for parties?

Yes, the Red Raider can be prepared in large quantities. Combine the ingredients in a pitcher without ice and refrigerate. Add ice and stir well before serving.

Is there a specific bourbon that works best in a Red Raider?

While any quality bourbon will work, one with a slightly higher proof can enhance the cocktail's robust flavor.

Can I use store-bought lemon juice instead of fresh?

Fresh lemon juice is recommended for the best taste, but if unavailable, a good quality bottled lemon juice can be a substitute.

What is the best time of year to enjoy a Red Raider?

The Red Raider's refreshing yet strong profile makes it a great drink for year-round enjoyment, but it's especially popular during tailgate season in the fall.

How can I adjust the sweetness of the Red Raider to my taste?

You can adjust the sweetness by modifying the amount of grenadine or triple sec, or by adding a sweetener like simple syrup if desired.

Could I add a garnish to the Red Raider to enhance its appearance?

A lemon twist or a cherry can make an elegant garnish that complements the flavors of the cocktail.

Is the Red Raider considered a strong cocktail?

With bourbon as its primary spirit, the Red Raider is considered moderately strong, but the other ingredients help to balance the alcohol content.

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