Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by David Michael
Cocktail Classic: The Whiskey Sour
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A sublime ratio of sour to sweet to temper the strong whiskey base is what makes the whiskey sour such a popular and classic cocktail.
One of the earliest mentions of the whiskey sour appears in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 book, ‘How to Mix Drinks’.
Little has changed. The type of whiskey moves through cycles of fashion. The most common whiskey used currently is Bourbon. Feel free to use any whiskey that you prefer.
We like the addition of egg white to give the drink a creamy, frothy quality. Omit the egg white if you wish.
It’s easy to make a whiskey sour at home. In addition to the Maraschino cherry garnish, try a few drops of bitters also.
Whiskey Sour Recipe
3 ounces whiskey
1 1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white
Garnish: Luxardo maraschino cherry, Angostura bitters (optional)
In a cocktail shaker combine the whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white (if using).
Add ice to the shaker and shake vigorously.
Strain into a sour glass or over ice in an old fashioned glass.
Garnish with maraschino cherry.
Optional – garnish with a few drops of Angostura bitters. They add a beautiful splash of color resting on the egg white foam, and enhances the interplay of sour with the whiskey.
You can make this into a Whiskey Flip by using a whole egg instead of just the white.
Omit the egg entirely and top with club soda and you have a Whiskey Fizz.
Browse all of our cocktail recipes in our Cocktail Recipe Index.
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A note on Maraschino cherries
A good maraschino cherry is made from sour marasca cherries. Luxardo is an excellent brand. These are nothing like the bright red cherries most are used to. Treat yourself to a jar of good Maraschino cherries and you may never go back to the others.
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I’m a convert to these glasses. I used to drink my sours from double old fashioned glasses, but now use these exclusively. The gentle flared lip is stylish and functional.
The original Maraschino cherry and one of the best available.
This shaker is the perfect size for a pair of sours. I love that no matter how long I shake, the body doesn’t get cold or covered with condensation. And any leftover cocktails stay ice cold all thanks to this insulated shaker.
David Wondrich explores the classic cocktails with engaging stories and recipes as seen through Jerry Thomas’ writings in Imbibe! the Updated and Revised Edition