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Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour

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There’s a simple structure behind all sours, a family of citrus-based cocktails.


  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ orange wheel (for serving)
  • Maraschino cherry (for serving)

Recipe Preparation

  • Combine bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is very cold, about 20 seconds.

  • Strain cocktail through a Hawthorne strainer or a slotted spoon into an old-fashioned or rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with orange wheel and cherry.

Reviews SectionSubbed in baking soda for whiskey, tasted like doodoo. Would try again!James Forky-FingersWisconsin07/24/20I subbed maple syrup instead of simple syrup, made it taste like autumn~yingmakesthingsATL05/12/20

Easy Scotch Whiskey Sour Recipe


  • 6 tablespoons Scotch Whiskey (I use The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 4 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Add whiskey, lemon juice, maple syrup and cinnamon to a cocktail shaker (you can also use a mason jar). Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously for about 20 seconds.
2. Fill your glasses with ice (I used 2 glasses, 6oz each). Strain the whiskey sour mixture into the glasses and enjoy!

Note: This post may contain affiliate links for products I like. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I'll earn some coffee money at no cost to you, which I promise to drink while creating more helpful recipes like this ) Thank you for supporting My Delicious Meals!

The History of the Whiskey Sour

Whiskey sours date back over a hundred years, becoming infamous for containing a unique combination of sugar and lemon juice, along with your whiskey of choice. Now while the drink may be intriguing, its past is not nearly as illustrious.

A man by the name of Elliot Stubb is credited with creating the first whiskey sour back in 1872, but the first reference to the drink came two years earlier in a Wisconsin newspaper. It may be unclear how the drink really became mainstream, but after over a century of delighted sourpusses, that point seems moot.

How to Make a Whiskey Sour

This is a great drink, because there’s not that much you can do to screw it up.

There are a lot of recipes out there, and frankly any one of them could be great.

My sister for instance, makes her whiskey sours with egg white. Which gives it an awesome froth, and a fantastic texture. For my recipe here, I’m not going to suggest that since I know a lot of people just starting out with cocktails feel pretty worried about cracking egg white into their drinks.

But if you’re feeling adventurous, give her recipe below a try, or get even more unique and try this Union Club cocktail.

My recipe? I keep it really simple, and use the same ratio I use for my classic daiquiris.

Sidenote: Check out the book Cocktail Codex to learn about some of these ratios and recipes. I’m not sure I’ve found a better book for teaching you enough of the basics to help you feel comfortable experimenting on your own. Here are some other favorite cocktail books as well.

Where was I? Oh yeah, ratios.

Super simple, super delicious.

I love the fact that this drink is great for both whiskey and non-whiskey drinkers.

If you know someone who says they don’t like whiskey? Make them one of these.

It cuts out all of the harshness often associated with whiskey, and allows you to taste the spirit without tasting straight alcohol.

And then once you’ve got them hooked on the whiskey sour, then you can slowly graduate them to a peach old fashioned.

Before you know it, they’ll be downing shots of Jamison like its nobody’s business.

Oh wait, we’re adults now. We don’t do that? Right. We don’t do that.

This drink is also great because you can serve it basically however you want.

If you do go with egg white, a coupe is best, but when you leave out the egg white? You can do a coupe, or you can serve it over a big cube in a rocks glass, or even get super pretentious and go nick and nora.

As for whiskey? I like bourbon in this, but use whatever you’ve got. This is not a pretentious drink, so anything goes.

I wouldn’t even judge you if you used the crappy bottled lemon juice.

Ok, that’s a lie. I’d judge you a little bit. But hey, I’m not going to pretend like I haven’t done it in a pinch.

But trust me, fresh lemon juice makes a BIG difference.

Regardless, you’re the boss.

Let me know what you think of my recipe, and how it turns out!

If you’re looking for another “beginner friendly” bourbon cocktail, consider making a mint julep as well. Only 3 ingredients, and super tasy!

Federal Buffalo Stamp a.k.a. Mixing Up the Sweetness

Photo: Courtesy Buffalo Trace

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 0.75 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 0.75 oz. maple syrup
  • 1 thin slice of ginger

Muddle ginger in the bottom of a shaker tin. Add liquid ingredients, add ice, seal tins and shake hard for 6 to 10 seconds. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass, and garnish with a lemon wheel.

Using a different kind of sweetness is a fun and interesting way to mix it up a little and circumvent the need for an egg white. If you used honey syrup instead of simple syrup, it would be called a Gold Rush and has a story all its own, but one of my favorite things to do is to recruit the depth of fresh maple syrup and the spice of ginger, which are a wonderful foil to the bourbon and don&rsquot bind to the tannins so much as provide such an interesting side show that your palate doesn&rsquot really mind.

For bourbon here, I&rsquod say 45 percent ABV is a maximum. Buffalo Trace, as always, is a wonderful choice, but this is great with the less expensive end as well, like Evan Williams Black Label or Jim Beam or even a Tennessee whiskey like Jack Daniels.

Every week bartender Jason O’Bryan mixes his up his favorite drinks for you. Check out his past cocktail recipes.

How is the Whiskey Sour made?

The recipe varies depending on the location, or your own taste . But the basic recipe for Whiskey Sour is this:

  • 5 cl Bourbon Whiskey
  • 3 cl Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 cl Sugar Syrup
  • 2-3 ds Egg White or Fee Foam

Preparation: Fill the shaker with some ice and then put all the ingredients in. Mix it. Fill into chilled old fashioned glasses and garnish with an orange slice or a maraschino cherry.

For all vegans out there: You don&rsquot have to leave out the foaminess of the egg white. You can replace it with Fee Foam. This alternative is neutral in taste and develops the foam by shaking.

Side Note: While you can use different Whiskeys , you can also use any type of syrup you prefer. This will probably go hand in hand with the Whisky of your choice. The choice between suitable maple syrup, sweet honey or even exotic agave syrup, is entirely yours.

Whiskey Sour

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A Sour is not so much a drink as it is a concept. Lemon or lime juice, almost any liquor, and sugar—in proper proportion—form a Sour. Don’t even think about using a packaged mix for this cocktail. A simple but magical blend, the Sour was first made with brandy in the middle of the 19th century. Bartenders have flirted with and still have their occasional flings with numerous other base alcohols, but whiskey was the liquor of choice by the end of the 19th century, with rye on equal footing with bourbon. Bourbon is still favored by many, but blended whiskeys and Scotch have jockeyed for position. Add a dash of grenadine to a Whiskey Sour, and you have the sophisticated Ward Eight.

Always prepare Sours fresh. Here is a foolproof rule of thumb for making a perfect Sour every time: Mix 2 ounces of your chosen spirit with 1 teaspoon sugar and 3/4 ounce lemon or lime juice (the “sour” flavor), and shake with cracked ice. Substitute lime juice for lemon in a Scotch Sour. Shake a Sour well for a truly frothy drink, and serve it straight up in a cocktail glass, over the rocks in a hefty Old Fashioned glass, or in a Sour glass. Garnish with any assortment of seasonally fresh fruit.

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  • 2 tablespoons aquafaba (drained chickpea liquid)
  • 5 ounces whiskey
  • 5 ounces lemon juice
  • 4 ounces prepared simple syrup
  • 4 maraschino cherries (optional)

Nutritional Information

  • Calories 277
  • Fat 0.2
  • Satfat 0g
  • Monofat 0g
  • Polyfat 0g
  • Protein 0.3g
  • Carbohydrate 33g
  • Fiber 0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Iron 0mg
  • Sodium mg
  • Calcium 1.5mg
  • Sugars 30g

How to Make a Whiskey Sour

The Whiskey Sour is at once wake-up call and comfort sipper. Sour as sin, it'll jolt your palate awake and scrub it clean, as only something this caustic (but delicious) can. But at its core, it is a combination of things you like best, or else you wouldn't be here: whiskey and lemon. Add sugar to make it friendly and egg white to give it body, and you've got a tart cocktail that's simple to make and nourishing to drink.

There are a thousand and one ways to make a Whiskey Sour, or very nearly. Here's how we do ours. A note on the whiskey: Bourbon is traditional, and it's sweeter side will help balance the drink, but you can also choose to lean into the tanginess with rye. Don't muck it up by using a sour mix like with all cocktail creation, fresh ingredients are best.

A Little Background

The Whiskey Sour belongs to the sour family of cocktails, in which a type of liquor is doused with citrus juice and sugar. The British Royal Navy slugged these down in the 17th and 18th centuries, most often with rum and lime, to stave off scurvy while patrolling the Caribbean. It wasn't long before the sour was canonized as a legitimate cocktail. According to Difford's Guide, the first sour recipes (like the Brandy Sour and Gin Sour) were published in 1862 by Jerry Thomas, the father of American cocktail-making. From there, it was only a matter of years before someone made a sour with American whiskey and forever popularized it among American drinkers. Which is all to say the sour is a stalwart, traveling from sea to land, across continents and through centuries, and tasting damn good with whiskey.

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If You Like This, Try These

Up the ante on the Whiskey Sour by floating a spoonful of dry red wine across the top&mdashthat's called a New York Sour. Other sour drinks include the Amaretto Sour and the Brandy Sour. Really, any cocktail that uses the liquor-plus-citrus-plus-sweetener build is a close cousin to the Whiskey Sour, like the Gin Sour and the Pisco Sour. Then there are the sour heavyweights: the Margarita and the Daiquiri.

History of the Whiskey Sour

The whiskey sour made its official debut in Jerry Thomas' 1862 "The Bon Vivant's Companion" (or "How to Mix Drinks"), which was the first published bartending guide. However, you can trace the cocktail's roots to a century before that.

In general, sour drinks were initially created to fight off scurvy among British Navy sailors during the 1700s. Most often, this meant adding lime to the rum rations (inspiring drinks like the Navy grog). Not only did it ward off disease, the rum or gin (and sometimes whiskey) helped preserve the perishable fruit juice on long voyages.

From there, the addition of a little sugar enhanced the citrus-liquor combination. The result was a more drinkable and very tasty beverage. These eventually became known as the sour family of drinks, which have remained popular the whiskey sour remains the most notable.

How Strong Is a Whiskey Sour?

Assuming that you pour an 80-proof whiskey into a whiskey sour, it is a relatively mild drink. Its alcohol content falls in the range of 14 percent alcohol by volume (28 proof). That's about half the strength of a Manhattan and similar to a glass of wine.


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