Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Whiskey Cocktails

Japanese Sour

Japanese Sour cocktail in a coupe, with a frothy top that is decorated with drops of bitters, served on a round tray


The classic Whiskey Sour provides inspiration for countless cocktails, as bartenders across the world play with or add to its constituent parts (whiskey, citrus, sugar, egg white). In the case of the Japanese Sour, Shigefumi Kabashima uses Japanese whisky and incorporates yuzu and kuromitsu. Yuzu is a citrus fruit with a tart flavor that’s like a combination of lemon, lime and orange, and kuromitsu is a molasses-like syrup derived from kokutō, a mineral-rich unrefined sugar.

“Nikka Coffey Grain whisky gives a rich and elegant flavor; ‘black honey’ also has rich sweetness, and the yuzu scent enhances these ingredients, giving the cocktail a Japanese flavor profile,” says Kabashima, the owner and beverage director of ROKC in New York City. 

Just like is common with the classic version, Kabashima mixes his ingredients together and then employs a dry-shake (shaking without ice before shaking again with ice) to incorporate the egg white with the liquids. This creates a rich and silky cocktail while also yielding a frothy head on top of the drink, which serves as a palette for the eye-catching pattern of aromatic bitters.


  • 2 ounces Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese whisky

  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/4 ounce yuzu juice (or lime juice), freshly squeezed

  • 1/3 ounce Japanese kuromitsu (can substitute honey or molasses) 

  • 1/2 ounce egg white

  • Garnish: 5 drops Angostura bitters

  • Garnish: 5 drops Peychaud’s bitters


  1. Add the whisky, lemon juice, yuzu juice, kuromitsu and egg white into a shaker and dry-shake (without ice) vigorously for 10 seconds.

  2. Add large ice cubes and shake again until well-chilled.

  3. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

  4. Garnish with the Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters.

Recipe Variations

New York Sour: Floats red wine on top of the traditional Whiskey Sour.

Port New York Sour: Subs tawny port for red wine.

Apricot Ginger Whiskey Sour: Adds apricot liqueur and ginger syrup to the mix.

Smoky Sour: Brings spice and smoke via cinnamon syrup and lapsang souchong tea.