The Whiskey Sour ranks as one of the most popular drinks in the world. It’s a pleasure to drink and a breeze to craft at home. Follow our Whiskey Sour recipe and join the happy crowd of Whiskey Sour fans.
The Whiskey Sour is a bit of an anomaly.
It’s a sour drink that’s not too sour. It’s also a pre-prohibition cocktail that tastes fresh and modern.
However, one thing about this classic cocktail is abundantly clear. Even for novice mixologists, it’s as easy to craft a Whiskey Sour as it is to drink one.
The Whiskey Sour fits into the classic cocktail category like a glove.
Popular around the world, the tart bourbon-based drink doesn’t involve any special tools or obscure ingredients. Dating back to the 19th century and possibly further, it’s proven the test of time and gets more popular with every passing decade.
This drink is so easy to both craft and drink that it could become a habit. Although we’re okay with this situation, we figured we’d warn you accordingly.
History of the Whiskey Sour
We’d love to tell you a story about the dashing young bartender who invented the Whiskey Sour but that would be pure fantasy.
What we can tell you is that the Whiskey Sour dates back to at least the mid-19th century when Jerry Thomas included the sour whiskey cocktail in his iconic guide – The Bon Vivant’s Companion. However, cocktail historians (yes, that’s a thing) suspect that the Whiskey Sour’s history goes back further when sailors would drink liquor to stay both happy and hydrated during long voyages.
The Whiskey Sour has evolved over the years with an egg white added to the mix years after Thomas published his book. It’s also appeared in movies like The Seven Year Itch back in 1955 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood more recently in 2019.
Right now, it’s playing a starring role in our home bar.
Whiskey Sour Ingredients
While you could craft a Whiskey Sour with Whiskey Sour mix, we say don’t do it.
Not only do commercial mixes tastes bad, there’s really no need considering the simple roster of ingredients required to craft a Whiskey Sour from scratch. These are the classic cocktail’s ingredients:
While you can use either bourbon or rye to craft a Whiskey Sour, we use bourbon whiskey in our recipe. And, in our home, we specifically use Four Roses bourbon.
Four Roses is a great cocktail bourbon since its flavors are relatively mild with hints of both vanilla and caramel. It’s also one of the more affordable bourbons produced in Kentucky and has a 40% ABV, the lowest possible ABV for Kentucky bourbon.
Feel free to use whatever bourbon or rye is your favorite. If you do, you’re practically guaranteed to love your Whiskey Sour cocktail.
How To Craft a Whiskey Sour Cocktail
As we mentioned above, you don’t need any special tools or equipment to craft a Whiskey Sour cocktail at home. We use the following tools when we craft Whiskey Sours in our home:
None of these tools is expensive or hard to find. And, in a pinch, you can improvise with kitchen tools if you’re missing a tool or two.
Discover 10 necessary bar tools for lazy mixologists.
When crafting a Whiskey Sour at home, the first step is to gather and measure the bourbon, freshly squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup. We use a Japanese Jigger to get accurate measurements and easy pours for all three.
We typically prepare simple syrup in advance so that it has time to cool. However, we squeeze the lemon juice on the spot by hand for maximum freshness.
Save money by making simple syrup from scratch. It’s as easy as boiling water and sugar in a 1:1 ratio until the sugar dissolves. Make sure you stir frequently so that the sugar doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Let the syrup cool before covering and storing in an airtight container.
Pour the bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup directly into a shaker as you measure each. Next, pour an egg white into the shaker.
Adding raw egg white is an optional step that creates a frothy finish not to mention a bit of protein.
Feel free to omit the egg white if you follow a vegan diet or are concerned about salmonella. Another option is to use a pasteurized egg white product.
The next step is to shake the cocktail. However, if you’re including the egg white, this is a two-part step.
First, do a dry shake without ice for 30 seconds. Dry shaking will allow the egg white to emulsify and transform to egg white foam. Next, add ice and shake for another half minute until the drink is fully chilled and blended.
We use a Boston Shaker to craft this and other cocktails and we love it. It’s so easy to use and doesn’t make a mess. Our previous shakers often leaked and the lid would stick to the base between uses.
Purchase a Boston Shaker from Amazon if you don’t have a shaker or want an inexpensive upgrade.
The final step is to strain the bourbon cocktail into a glass and garnish.
We like to drink our Whiskey Sours on the rocks with a toasted orange twist and Luxardo cherry garnishes. These garnishes look great. Plus, there’s nothing better than eating that cherry after it soaks up some of the cocktail.
Buy a jar of Luxardo cherries from Amazon if you can’t find them at your local liquor store or specialty market.
Whiskey Sour Variations
We’re going to go on a limb and suggest that there’s no need to modify the classic Whiskey Sour recipe. It’s that good. However, we fully support you crafting it to your personal taste. Here are some experimentation ideas to consider:
Whiskey Sour FAQs
Bourbon or Rye, Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Egg White (optional), Maraschino Cherry (garnish), Orange Wedge or Peel (garnish) and Ice
You should use your favorite bourbon in this cocktail recipe. We typically use Four Roses but any bourbon will work just fine.
The Whiskey Sour is shaken, not stirred.
We like to serve this cocktail in a lowball glass and you should do the same.
Whiskey Sour Recipe
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- 1 egg white (optional)
- 1 maraschino cherry
- orange peel
- ice cubes
- Combine bourbon, lemon juice,, simple syrup and egg white in a shaker.
- Shake vigorously for 30 seconds without ice so that the egg white emulsifies. (Skip this step if you omit the egg white.)
- Add ice and shake vigorously for an additional 30 seconds until the drink is properly chilled and blended.
- Strain into a lowball or rocks glass filled with ice.
- Add a maraschino cherry and orange twist as garnish.
- You can use a coupe or martini glass if you prefer sipping this cocktail without ice.
- The egg white can be omitted if you're a vegan or you're uncomfortable with ingesting raw eggs.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Japanese Jigger - Premium Double Cocktail Jigger, 1oz/2oz made from Stainless Steel 304
Premium Cocktail Shaker Set: Two-Piece Pro Boston Shaker Set. Unweighted 18oz & Weighted 28oz Martini Drink Shaker made from Stainless Steel 304
OXO SteeL Cocktail Strainer
Luxardo, Gourmet Cocktail Maraschino Cherries 400G Jar
15PCS Cocktail Picks, Upgrade Stainless Steel Martini Picks, Reusable Metal Cocktail Skewers, 4.3 Inches Cocktail Toothpicks for Martinis Olives Appetizers Sandwich by FATLODA
Whiskey Glasses-Premium 11 OZ Scotch Glasses Set of 6 /Old Fashioned Whiskey Glasses/Perfect Gift for Scotch Lovers/Style Glassware for Bourbon/Rum glasses/Bar whiskey glasses,Clear
Thirsty for More Cocktails?
Try our Absinthe Frappe, Amaretto Sour, Americano, Aperol Spritz, Aviation, Bee’s Knees, Between the Sheets, Bijou, Black Russian, Boulevardier, Brandy Alexander, Brown Derby, Café Maria Theresia, Caipirinha, Clover Club, Coquito, Corpse Reviver #2, Creamsicle, Cuba Libre, Daiquiri, Dark and Stormy, Diplomat, Dirty Shirley, Eggnog, Emerald, Espresso Martini, French 75, French Connection, G+T, Garibaldi, Gibson, Gimlet, Gold Rush, Grasshopper, Hanky Panky, Hemingway Daiquiri, Hugo Spritz, Hurricane, Irish Coffee, Kentucky Mule, Kir Royale, Last Word, Lemon Drop Martini, Manhattan, Maple Bourbon Smash, Martinez, Mauresque, Milk Punch, Mind Eraser, Mint Julep, Mojito, Moscow Mule, Mudslide, Negroni, Negroni Sbagliato, New York Sour, Old Fashioned, Old Pal, Paloma, Paper Plane, Pimm’s Cup, Pink Lady, Porto Tonico, Ramos Gin Fizz, Revolver, Sazerac, Sidecar, Siesta, Spicy Margarita, Tipperary, Tomate, Vesper Martini, Vieux Carré, Whiskey Ginger, White Lady and White Russian cocktail recipes.
View the latest Web Story.
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: January 13, 2022