This Bourbon Punch Is Summer-Ready

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A summer-appropriate bourbon drink. [Photographs: Elana Lepkowski]

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My dad is a bourbon man. Beer may be his first love, but there will always be a glass of bourbon right next to it. That is, except, in the summer. In the summer, it's just too darn hot and muggy for his old New England stock to sit around sipping on whiskey.

I'm the argumentative child, though, and I roll my eyes at the notion that bourbon has a season. "Dad," I say, "Of course you can drink bourbon in the summer! What about a Mint Julep?" He promptly dismisses the idea that any cocktail could be as refreshing as a can of beer just pulled out of the cooler. To prove myself right, I set out to design a bourbon cocktail that Dad would want to drink for Father's Day and all summer long: something refreshing and a little savory, thanks to spices he never would have expected to find in his patio pitcher.

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In addition to beer and bourbon, my dad loves Chinese food, so I decided to layer in flavor using five-spice mix. You usually see five-spice powder in pre-ground form for cooking, but its sweet, savory, and pungent flavors are equally excellent steeped into a cocktail. The rich, slightly sweet side of bourbon pairs wonderfully with the earthy spices. I recommend using whole spices, which we'll toast to bring out the fullest flavor and mix into the syrup that sweetens the drink.

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What makes this warm-spiced drink ideal for summer? A squeeze of bright, tangy lime juice brings it to the sunny side, and a little fizzy club soda—just two ounces per person—loosens up the syrup and takes the heaviness out of the bourbon. The result is fresh and rich at the same time, and easy to mix by the batch for a long day of sipping.