The Whiskey Sour cocktail is one of the oldest and most venerable styles of cocktails in American history. While easy enough to prepare at home with some planning and preparation, this is a drink that had fallen on hard times after Prohibition. Innovations like bottled sour mix—a combination of corn syrup, dyes, and citric acid—led to a drink that was noxious, overly sweet, and lacked depth.
The Whiskey Sour is the grandfather of the sour cocktail family, appearing in the first cocktail book ever printed, Jerry Thomas’s “How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon-Vivant’s Companion” in 1862. Even in the 1860s it was an older-style drink, and there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the Whiskey Sour was the preferred tipple of Edgar Allan Poe.
A Whiskey Sour is a fairly straightforward drink: whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar. Because of the cocktail’s simplicity, each individual ingredient becomes very important.
The whiskey should be good-quality bourbon or rye whiskey. Avoid blended whiskeys, as they are too light to mix well in this drink. Irish and Canadian whiskeys would both work in this cocktail in a pinch as well. Lemon juice should be freshly squeezed and strained to remove the pulp, while the sugar should be made into a simple syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water, dissolved).
With these ingredients prepared ahead of time, making a delicious Whiskey Sour is pretty straightforward and easy. Just make sure to have a supply of ice cubes and a Boston shaker ready to shake up this American classic.
Whiskey Sour Cocktail
Makes 1 cocktail
- 2 oz good quality bourbon or rye whiskey
- 1 ½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¾ oz simple syrup
- In a Boston shaker, add all ingredients.
- Top with ice and close shaker.
- Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
- Strain into an ice filled double rocks glass