The Story Behind The Kentucky Maid

Bourbon takes a trip to the farmers market in the Kentucky Maid, a modern classic by NYC-based bartender and Attaboy co-owner Sam Ross. Muddled cucumber and mint bring a cooling brightness to a base of bourbon, lime, and simple syrup in what some have referred to as the Whiskey Smash’s answer to the Mint Julep — and vice versa. This cocktail definitely lands on the more refreshing end of the mixed bourbon drinks scale, but packs enough of a punch to enjoy in any season.

During his tenure at New York’s Milk & Honey, Ross earned his reputation as one of the key movers and shakers of the modern cocktail renaissance, creating an impressive catalog of canonical drinks in just a few years' time. Between 2004 and 2007, he invented the Penicillin, the Paper Plane, the Kentucky Maid, and its sister cocktail the Old Maid (a.k.a. the London Maid), which employs Hayman’s London Dry gin instead of bourbon in an otherwise identical spec. There’s also the Polish Maid with vodka, the Mexican Maid with tequila, and the Irish Maid with Irish whiskey and St-Germain. It’s a whole family of cocktails and, just like the Mule template, almost any spirit is welcome.

As per the bourbon of choice, Ross recommends Elijah Craig Small Batch for its resounding caramel and spice notes. Once the drink is shaken up and ready to pour, make sure to double strain to prevent any mint pieces and mashed cucumber from ending up in the glass. For the garnish, pierce a cucumber slice with a hardy sprig of mint, and let it float on the surface of the cocktail.


  • 2 ounces bourbon, such as Elijah Craig Small Batch
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 3 cucumber slices
  • Garnish: cucumber slice skewered with a mint sprig


  1. Muddle the mint, cucumber slices, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add bourbon, lime juice, and ice.
  3. Shake until chilled.
  4. Double strain into a rocks glass over ice.
  5. Garnish with a cucumber slice skewered with a mint sprig.

Rate This Recipe:

(46 votes)

Yield: 1
Calories: 181
Updated: 2024-05-06

Kentucky Maid Recipe Video