Don’t forget to enjoy a Gentleman Jack Sour on August 25.
National Whiskey Sour Day will be here on August 25. You could mark the occasion by going out for a Whiskey Sour. But just tasting the iconic cocktail isn’t really enough to fully understand why it deserves its very own holiday.
The history of the sour goes back hundreds of years to when sailors first mixed spirits and citrus to fight scurvy and seasickness. But the Whiskey Sour, at least as we know it today, was created and refined on land in the middle of the 19th century. In his 1864 book, “How to Mix Drinks,” Jerry Thomas provided the template for the modern Whiskey Sour.
Thomas called for a wine glass of bourbon or rye whiskey, the juice from half a small lemon, and a large teaspoon of powdered white sugar dissolved in seltzer water. Contemporary bartenders don’t use those exact ingredients—simple syrup has largely replaced powdered sugar and seltzer—or sometimes even measurements. You won’t find many recipes that exceed two ounces of whiskey, let alone a full wine glass.
You can celebrate National Whiskey Sour Day on the rocks or up.
But Thomas’ central trio of whiskey, citrus and sweetness is still at the core of the sour. The harmony of these three ingredients has passed the test of time, but that hasn’t stopped bartenders from experimenting.
The biggest development happened in the early 20th century, when bartenders started adding egg white to give the cocktail a creamy texture. Bartenders are also always exploring new ways to add citrus and sweetness, with many cocktail bars offering house-made syrups and alternate forms of citrus to bring new flavors to the classic recipe.
But you don’t need anything particularly fancy to celebrate National Whiskey Sour Day. You don’t even need an egg white. Simply mix whiskey with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and a dash of Angostura bitters for a stripped-down approach.
Of course, the classic formula only holds up when you use the right whiskey. And there’s no better option than Gentleman Jack. It’s double-mellowed with charcoal for extra smoothness, which balances out the tart flavor from the citrus.