The Whiskey Sour

November 4, 2021

The whiskey sour is one of the best classic cocktails. It’s easy to make, and the recipe is the base for the entire family of sour drinks. There are also a variety of adjustments you can make to ensure it suits your taste perfectly.

As the name suggests, this cocktail is sour. The flavor is balanced and complemented by the sweetness of the whiskey and simple syrup, so it’s not as tart as you might think. Try it with the ratio suggested in the recipe, give it a taste, and then adjust your next drink as needed.

The whiskey sour is such a popular drink recipe, that it has its own holiday. If you need a reason to mix one up, National Whiskey Sour Day is August 25th

So, here’s what you’ll need to make your own:

  • 2 ounces Filmoore Rides Whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 3/4 ounce simple syrup, to taste
  • Maraschino cherry (or lemon peel), garnish

First step, in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup.

Then, shake well. Strain into a chilled sour glass, or over fresh ice in an old-fashioned glass.

Garnish with a maraschino cherry or lemon peel. Enjoy. That simple.


  • When using a rich (2:1) simple syrup, you’ll likely want to use a little less in the whiskey sour. If you have a standard syrup made with equal parts of sugar and water, pour the full 3/4 ounce.
  • Fresh lemon juice is the key to a great whiskey sour. Bottled lemon juices are either too sweet or too tart and will significantly affect the quality of your drink.
  • Every new style or brand of whiskey you choose will give the cocktail a unique flavor profile.

Add an Egg White

A traditional recipe for whiskey sours includes an egg white. It tends to tame the tartness and make the drink a bit smoother. The use of raw egg is a matter of personal choice, though. Many drinkers pass on the ingredient because there is a potential for salmonella, while others believe that the risks are minimal.

When using egg, dry shake all of the ingredients without ice, then add ice and shake for at least 30 seconds to ensure it’s properly mixed. It’s also generally preferred to serve the drink on the rocks.

Recipe Variations

  • Sour mix (sometimes called sweet and sour mix) is a popular shortcut that combines the sweet and sour components into one mixer. It is an easy option, and many sour recipes suggest it, although you lose control of the final taste. If you opt for this, make a fresh sour mix for the best flavor.
  • When you add soda to this drink (or any sour), you have a collins cocktail. The whiskey version is John Collins.
  • The Frisco sour is a popular variation. Bénédictine is the sweetener, with both lemon and lime for the sour.

History of the Whiskey Sour

The whiskey sour made its official debut in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 “The Bon Vivant’s Companion” (or “How to Mix Drinks”), which was the first published bar tending guide. However, you can trace the cocktail’s roots to a century before that.

In general, sour drinks were initially created to fight off scurvy among British Navy sailors during the 1700s. Most often, this meant adding lime to the rum rations (inspiring drinks like the Navy grog). Not only did it ward off disease, the rum or gin (and sometimes whiskey) helped preserve the perishable fruit juice on long voyages.

From there, the addition of a little sugar enhanced the citrus-liquor combination. The result was a more drinkable and very tasty beverage. These eventually became known as the sour family of drinks, which have remained popular; the whiskey sour remains the most notable.

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The Classic Whiskey Old Fashioned