Spirit, citrus and sugar—the original big three—combine to form the classic sour, one of the oldest types of cocktails. The category includes the Whiskey Sour, which has sated thirsty drinkers for more than one and a half centuries. It’s unknown exactly when the cocktail was conceived (or who was the architect), but its history stretches back to the Lincoln administration, and the first printed recipe appeared circa 1862 in the famed “Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide.”
The Whiskey Sour was traditionally made with whiskey, lemon juice, sugar and egg white, an ingredient that tames the tart flavor and creates a richer, smoother texture. Today that egg is optional, and it’s common to find bars serving Whiskey Sours without egg white. But if you want to taste the original incarnation of the drink, and put a little protein in your system, give it a try. When using egg white, you’ll want to perform a “dry shake” and shake all the ingredients without ice before shaking again with fresh ice. This pro move incorporates the ingredients together into one cohesive package.
Few drinks in the cocktail canon are as quick to satisfy as a silky sour. But like most classic cocktails, the Whiskey Sour has spawned countless variations, from tried-and-true riffs like the red wine-topped New York Sour to versions incorporating other fruits, juices and sweeteners. Add a flourish to any component, and you have a personal spin on this classic refreshment.
We like our Whiskey Sour spiked with bourbon, thickened with egg white and topped with a few dashes of aromatic bitters for a complementary spice note. Follow that format, and you can’t go wrong. But one of the best things about the sour is that it’s customizable, so you do you.
Watch Now: Traditional Whiskey Sour Recipe
2 ounces bourbon
3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce egg white (optional)
Garnish: Angostura bitters
Add bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white, if using, to a shaker and dry-shake for 30 seconds without ice.
Add ice and shake again until well-chilled.
Strain into a rocks glass or a coupe.
Garnish with 3 or 4 drops of Angostura bitters.
Raw Egg Warning
Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.