Over a century ago, the Whiskey Sour originated as one of the simplest cocktails, with variations of whiskey, lemon juice, and sweetened with sugar. The mix lost attention after the prohibition era, but it resurged with the newly heightened interest in craft cocktail. Thanks to whiskey’s newfound status and the use of fresh ingredients, the Whiskey Sour has made a strong comeback. Because sours have a higher ratio of alcohol to mix than your typical cocktail, the “unofficial” holiday appeals to the summer beverage interests of men and women alike.
The whiskey sour is also traditionally the choice of scurvy ridden sailors. To prevent a ship full of intoxicated shipmates, the liquor, usually rum once it was discovered, was watered down and lemon or lime juice was added to mask the flavor of the rum. Hence, we have a very early version of the Sour.
The sailors brought this concept to shore and eventually the basics of the sour cocktail were refined to what we know it as. Gin and Brandy were also substituted in by the English, but the Americans were more fond of the native (and generally easier to obtain) whiskey. Jerry Thomas ultimately refined and published this imbibement, codifying the sour into black and white. Soda was originally used, but abandoned over time. Most likely as people realized that the soda lost some effervescence after being shaken.
One thing you do not see in the recipe, other than a lack of measurements? An egg. No whites, no yolks, nothing. The egg was later added as a creamy, frothy element to the cocktail. It went down a little smoother and looked a little better in the glass with the egg in it.
Here are three modern takes on this classic cocktail!
George Dickel Whisky Sour
- 1.3 oz. George Dickel No.12 Whisky
- 1.5 oz. lemon juice
- 0.75 oz. simple syrup
Shake and strain ingredients into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge or cherry.
Jeff’s Redneck Sour
- 1.25 oz. Bulleit Rye
- 1 oz. fresh lemon sour
- 0.5 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
- 2 dashes grapefruit bitters
Shake and strain ingredients into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a grapefruit half wheel.
The Harvest Sour
- 1 oz. Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
- .5 oz. Crown Royal Regal Apple Flavored
- .5 oz. lemon juice
- .5 oz. simple syrup
- 1 Dash Pimento Bitters
- 1 Egg White
- Grated Nutmeg (optional)
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Grate nutmeg for garnish (optional). As a bartender friend of mine likes to say, “You actually have a better chance of choking on a bar peanut than contracting salmonella from an egg.”
What whiskey sour will you be celebrating with tonight? Leave a comment and let us know!