A grain-based spirit, citrus and sweetener—along with an optional egg white or aquafaba—makes the Whiskey Sour a delicious template with plenty of room for customization. Chicago-based bartender Jesse Vanpoucke is fond of splitting the base in his Whiskey Sour between two whiskeys in order to lighten the drink’s profile. In the Big Red Sun he uses Monkey Shoulder, a moderately priced and well-respected blended scotch, and Powers, a popular and affordable Irish whiskey.
The alterations don’t stop with a split base of malt whiskeys, though. Vanpoucke punches up his take on the sour with some passion fruit in place of the simple syrup normally used to sweeten the drink. Notably he uses passion fruit liqueur, not the passion fruit syrup commonly found in Tiki bartending. Vanpoucke uses Giffard, but there are a few other brands including Chinola and Passoa. For extra sweetness he also uses a touch of vanilla syrup, while the requisite lemon juice keeps things balanced and tart.
Finally, Vanpoucke adds bitters to the recipe, including Angostura as well as Bar Keep apple bitters from Greenbar Distillery in Los Angeles. The result is a complex and layered take on a classic. “What I love about this drink is how all the ingredients lean on each other—passion fruit to vanilla to light whiskey to apple,” says Vanpoucke. He quips that it’s also a nice hybrid drink if you happen to have brought a bottle of whiskey to a tropical island or an apple orchard.
If you’re making this drink at home and don’t have access to the two brands that Vanpoucke uses as his base, feel free to swap them out for another blended scotch whisky (something like Famous Grouse or Johnny Walker Black would fit well) and another Irish whiskey (household names like Jameson or Tullamore DEW will work just fine). In any case, it’s an opportunity to experiment with split base spirits to see what suits your tastes best.
Add the Monkey Shoulder scotch, Powers Irish Whiskey, passionfruit liqueur, lemon juice, vanilla syrup, Angostura bitters and apple bitters into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
Garnish with an apple fan.