The Whisky Sour

Go deeper inside the flavour and history of a classic whisky cocktail.

A whisky sour is a prohibition classic cocktail recipe, all about balance. Traditionally made with a warming whisky, tart lemon juice, and offset by sugar and the silky texture of raw egg white. 

What is in a Whisky Sour?

The method and ingredients.
Creating an excellent cocktail is all about balance, especially for this recipe.Traditional whisky sour recipe ingredients are whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, and egg white....

Creating an excellent cocktail is all about balance, especially for this recipe.

Traditional whisky sour recipe ingredients are whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, and egg white. A classic 'whiskey sour' calls for bourbon as the base, which adds a touch of vanilla and oak without overpowering the sweet vs. sour tug-of-war going on in the glass. At The Lakes, we believe all drinks should be enjoyed "as you please" - as long as you have a good quality whisky, one you enjoy drinking, you can make a whisky sour cocktail. 

Using freshly squeezed lemon juice is essential—anything else doesn’t even compare. If you don't have a lemon to hand, you can swap it out for lime (or a mixture of the two). Citrus is needed to balance out the sweetness from the sugar.

Simple syrup (a sugar water mix made to 2:1 ratio of sugar and water) is the most popular sweetener used within a whisky sour cocktail. Maple syrup or triple sec can be alternative substitutes.

Egg white is optional but adds a silky texture and the iconic foam head of the drink you wouldn't get otherwise. To use egg white, “dry shake” all the ingredients together (about 30 seconds) without ice before shaking again with fresh ice. This pro tip, equivalent of a bakers meringue, combines the ingredients to achieve the frothy texture.

When making any cocktail the glassware is always important, and with the sour, this has changed greatly over the century and a half of its popularity. 

Originally Jerry Thomas' 1862 The Bartender's Guide specified a ‘small bar glass’, however a modern day Whisky Sour recipe can be served in a myriad of ways, on-the-rocks in an old fashioned or tumbler glass, or strained into a stemmed coupe glass.

History of The Whisky Sour

A Sour is well recognised to be an individual serving of a punch - a mixture of strong spirit, sweet and citrus.

The first written record of a sour was in 1856, from a hand-written list of 107 mixed drinks offered at a saloon in Toronto, Canada. It’s unknown exactly when the Whisky Sour cocktail itself was conceived (or who was the architect), yet 6 years later it was first printed in the famed Jerry Thomas’ The Bartenders’ Guide in 1862.

However it's likely that a version of the whisky sour was devised from sea travel a Century earlier, where sailors mixed lemon or limes, which they kept on board to prevent scurvy, with whatever spirit they had on hand (usually safer at that time than stagnant water or sea water) and mixed together to mask the taste of a rough rum. These were then brought ashore, and the concept was born.

The Sour, in whichever format, has clearly been a cardinal point of American drinking since the mid-19th century. It has been well published in all early mixology reference guides, with twists of red wine, bitters or and the introduction of egg white to add that iconic creamy texture.

The Whisky Sour cocktail thrived during the prohibition era and proved the most popular and endearing style of Sour, so much so, it now has its own annual celebration on the 25th August.

What does a Whisky Sour taste like?

The warming flavour from the whisky is uplifted by the zesty lemon juice and balanced out with the sweetness of a simple sugar syrup, whilst the egg white froth creates a rich, creamy texture. 

Whisky Sour Recipe

50ml The One Fine Blended Whisky
25ml Lemon Juice
15ml Sugar Syrup
1/2 Fresh Egg White
Method Fill cocktail shaker with all the ingredients and shake really hard for about 30 seconds. Add ice, and shake again. Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice and garnish with a cherry and orange slice.

Whisky sour variations

Whilst a traditional whisky sour recipe states bourbon, we’ve adapted and created our own take on the Whisky Sour

Offering a tropical twist, The Lucido Sour shows the versatility of this classic cocktail and The One Fine Blended Whisky.

Add 50ml of The One, 25ml of mango juice, 15ml of lemon juice, 5ml of Maraschino liqueur and drops of miracle foamer to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain and remove the ice from the shaker. Dry shake shake.  Strain into a martini glass or a tumbler filled with cubed ice and garnish with an orange twist

The One is complex yet balanced with fresh orchard fruits, butterscotch and a hint of smoke on the nose, creating depth to the Whisky Sour, whilst the mango flavour adds an exotic taste with the Maraschino liqueur acting as a glue to blend together the fruit and smoky flavours.

The most popular way to create a Whisky Sour variation is changing the base spirit used - try brandy as one of the original sours from the 1860s.

Swap the bourbon for a Cognac and add 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters before your first shake.

Or create an Amaretto Sour for a spiked sweet and sour hard candy with bold notes of cherry, almond held together with a slight tartness. 

Using the above method, your ingredients are 60ml of Amaretto, 30ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 dash of Angostura Bitters and 15ml of egg white.

Finally you can opt out of the egg white altogether, which keeps the drink tasting the same, but doesn't have the same richness of texture.

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