If You Only Know How to Make One Cocktail, Make It the Delicious Whiskey Sour

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Whiskey Sour Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Whiskey Sour is a classic cocktail with a rich history dating back to the 18th century. It is believed to have originated from British sailors who mixed their daily rations of spirits with lemon juice to prevent scurvy.

  • The first recorded mention of the Whiskey Sour was in an 1870 Wisconsin newspaper.
  • It gained popularity in the United States during Prohibition, as the sourness helped mask the taste of poor-quality whiskey.
  • The Whiskey Sour is a member of the 'sour' family of cocktails, which also includes the Daiquiri and the Margarita.

How Whiskey Sour Tastes?

The Whiskey Sour is a well-balanced cocktail with a tangy, sour taste from the lemon juice, a subtle sweetness from the simple syrup, and a rich, warming sensation from the whiskey. The egg white adds a smooth, creamy texture.

Interesting facts about Whiskey Sour

  • The Whiskey Sour is often served with a cherry and an orange slice as garnish, which adds a touch of sweetness and color to the drink.
  • Some variations of the Whiskey Sour include the Boston Sour (with egg white) and the New York Sour (with a red wine float).
  • The Whiskey Sour is traditionally made with bourbon, but other types of whiskey can be used for different flavor profiles.


Whiskey: 2 oz

Whiskey is the backbone of this cocktail, providing a robust base that offsets the tang of the lemon and the sweetness of the syrup. Too much will overpower, too little and you'll miss the warmth. No whiskey, no whiskey sour! If you swap it for say, tequila, you've got yourself a Margarita's cousin.

Mary Mitkina

Lemon Juice: 0.75 oz

Lemon juice is here for that zesty zing, balancing out the strong whiskey flavor with its bright acidity. Without it, the sweetness would be cloying. Lemon juice keeps things lively. Using lime juice would take you down a different tasty avenue.

Emma Rose

Simple Syrup: 0.5 oz

Simple syrup is the sweet counterpart that melds with the whiskey's complexity and tames the lemon's sour edge. No syrup would lead to an overly tart drink. Swap it for maple syrup and welcome a deeper autumnal vibe.

Alex Green

Egg White: 1

Egg white is the secret frothy friend that gives the cocktail its silky texture and luxurious mouthfeel. Opting out means missing out on the visual flair and creamy top. A vegan alternative could be aquafaba, but the dynamic would be slightly altered.

Mary Mitkina

Angostura Bitters: 2 dashes

A dash of mystery! Angostura bitters add depth, a hint of spice, and a layer of complexity. Leaving them out would make the drink a bit too one-dimensional. It's like a sprinkle of magic that completes the potion.

Emma Rose

Maraschino Cherry: 1

This garnish adds a touch of elegance and a pinch of sweetness you can look forward to at the end of your drink. It's the cocktail's cherry on top, literally. No cherry? It'll still be delicious, just less dressed up.

Alex Green

Orange Slice: 1

The orange slice garnish complements the cherry and gives a nod to the citrus in the drink. It also adds an aromatic allure when you go in for a sip. No orange, no problem, but it's the sunshiny smile that tops off the presentation.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Whiskey Sour Drink

  1. Combine ingredients
    • In a cocktail shaker, combine the whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white.
  2. Dry shake
    • Shake the mixture without ice to emulsify the egg white and create a frothy texture.
  3. Add ice
    • Fill the shaker with ice and shake again until well-chilled.
  4. Strain
    • Strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
  5. Garnish
    • Add a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters on top of the foam, and garnish with a maraschino cherry and an orange slice.

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh lemon juice
    • Bottled lemon juice can have a bitter taste. Freshly squeezed lemon juice will give your Whiskey Sour a bright, fresh flavor.
  • Shake well
    • The key to a great Whiskey Sour is a good shake. This not only chills the drink but also helps to properly mix the ingredients and create a nice froth from the egg white.
  • Choose your whiskey wisely
    • The type of whiskey you use can greatly affect the taste of your Whiskey Sour. Bourbon is traditional, but rye whiskey can add a spicy twist.

Perfect Pairings

Food Pairings

  • Grilled or Barbecued Meats: Whiskey Sours provide a refreshing counterbalance to the rich flavors and smokiness of grilled meats.
  • Crispy Fried Foods: The acidic nature of the cocktail cuts through the greasiness, cleansing your palate.
  • Heavy Appetizers or Cheese Plates: The drink's sweetness pairs well with cheeses and hearty finger foods.

Drink Pairings

  • Non-alcoholic Ginger Beer: For a non-alcoholic option that complements the whiskey sour, ginger beer adds a nice spicy contrast.

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What you could change in Whiskey Sour

  • Whiskey - If you don't have bourbon, you can use rye whiskey or even Scotch for a different flavor profile.
  • Lemon juice - If you're out of lemons, you can use lime juice instead. The taste will be slightly different, but still delicious.
  • Simple syrup - If you don't have simple syrup, you can make your own by dissolving sugar in equal parts hot water.

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And of course - twists🍹

New York Sour

  • Red Wine Float: After shaking and straining, gently pour a float of red wine over the back of a spoon on top of the drink. It adds a fruity depth that'll have your taste buds singing in the Big Apple.

Bourbon Maple Sour

  • Maple Syrup: Swap the simple syrup for maple syrup and watch this whiskey sour transform into a fall classic. The deep, rich sweetness will make you want to jump into a pile of leaves.

Amaretto Sour

  • Amaretto: Use amaretto in place of whiskey for a sweeter twist with an almond kick. It's like a whiskey sour that went to Italy and came back wearing a designer suit.

In case you forgot basics how to make Whiskey Sour

The basic composition of simple syrup is relatively straightforward – a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. This mixture is heated until the sugar dissolves, resulting in a clear, sweet syrup.

Learn everything about simple syrup

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Whiskey Sour

Is it necessary to use egg white in Whiskey Sour?

While traditional Whiskey Sour recipes call for the use of egg white to give the drink its characteristic frothy texture, it's not absolutely necessary. If you're allergic to egg, vegan, or simply aren't a fan of using egg white in cocktails, you can omit it. However, be aware that the drink will have a slightly different texture without it.

What are some whiskey recommendations for making a Whiskey Sour?

The choice of whiskey can dramatically affect the taste of a Whiskey Sour. Some recommendations include Bulleit Bourbon, Wild Turkey Rye, or Jameson Irish Whiskey. These offer a variety of flavor profiles, from the robust and rich bourbon to the smooth and slightly spicy rye, and the soft, malty finish of the Irish whiskey.

What’s the proper way to store whiskey?

Storing your whiskey properly can maintain its quality for a longer time. Keep it upright (to stop the cork from drying out and to prevent oxidation), and away from heat or direct sunlight.

Are there any non-alcoholic versions of a Whiskey Sour?

Yes, there are non-alcoholic or 'mocktail' versions of a Whiskey Sour. You can substitute the whiskey with non-alcoholic alternatives like brewed tea, apple cider vinegar, or even non-alcoholic spirit substitutes that mimic the flavor of whiskey.

Can I mix different kinds of whiskey in a Whiskey Sour?

While it's not traditional, you can certainly mix different kinds of whiskey in a Whiskey Sour. It can be a fun way to experiment with different flavors and aromas. However, be aware that this may alter the original taste profile of the cocktail.

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