This Sunday is National Whiskey Sour Day and what better reason to put on a cocktail party than to celebrate this iconic drink.
A simple mix of Whiskey (normally Bourbon), Lemon Juice and Sugar Syrup (egg white optional), this classic cocktail forms the building blocks for so many cocktails that have followed.
The simple recipe of spirit + sour + sweet has spawned a variety of cocktails from the Daiquiri to the Sidecar and the Margarita to the Gimlet. Sours, as this family of cocktails is known, is probably one of the oldest of original cocktail families and was first described by Jerry Thomas in his 1862 book The Bar-Tenders Guide
The Whiskey Sour has been a mainstay if American drinking. Sure, it’s never been what you might call a fashionable drink but then it also has never really gone out of fashion either.
From pre-Prohibition days through to when the mad men roamed Madison Avenue, to today’s cocktail revival, the Whiskey Sour has remained firmly on the bar.
If nothing else, the Whiskey Sour is a comfortable drink. It’s easy to make and is perfect no matter what the weather. In winter, it has enough bite to warm your bones and the in summer the sour is both light and refreshing.
Now while shaking up a Whiskey Sour may seem simple, don’t be fooled. Balance is very much the key to this classic drink. If you are new to either Bourbon or a Whiskey Sour, the best advice we can give is make it as directed, give it a taste, then adjust your next drink as needed.
But most of all, resist any temptation to use anything but fresh Lemon Juice in this drink.
Now the Whiskey Sour can be made two ways – either with egg white or without. If you make it with egg white you are technically actually making a Boston Sour but so many people make it with egg white for the silky feel and froth that it’s usually seen as part of the drink.
Gary Regan’s Joy of Mixology does not include an egg but Dale DeGroff’s The Essential Cocktail includes egg white as an option.
For our purposes, we would probably recommend you leave the egg out for a couple of reasons. Firstly, adding an egg to a cocktail makes some people nervous, as it should; there is a chance you are going to give your guests salmonella, if the eggs aren’t stored properly.
Secondly, because honestly eggs just get messy. In a party setting, they have ‘the lounge room now smells of egg and I can’t get this stiffness out of the carpet,’ feel about them.
If you are super keen to be able to provide your guests with a frothy drink, then we suggest you use Aquafaba instead. Aquafaba is basically chickpea water and will give the same sort of froth, without the mess or the illness.
Now what we suggest in terms of decor, is setting up a Whiskey Sour station, where guests can make their own drink. This is not only more efficient for you but also gets your guests more involved.
A good way to do this is by having individual ‘mini’ bottles of Bourbon available, set up on a tray. This ensures that everyone has their own portion of booze. The Lemon Juice and Sugar Syrup can be in jugs brought out of the fridge as needed.
Jam jars or spill-proof coffee cups make great alternatives to shakers.
Now as we mentioned, there are two ways to make a Whiskey Sour
There are also a couple of simple riffs on the Whiskey Sour if you’re feeling game. Add a red wine float to the top of the drink and you have a New York Sour
Alternatively, if you replace the Sugar Syrup with Maple Syrup (and add aquafaba or egg white) you have a Filibuster Cocktail –
- 2 ounces rye (preferably Sazerac 6 Year)
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce maple syrup, Grade B
- 1/2 ounce egg white or 1 small egg white
- Garnish: Angostura bitters
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and dry shake. Add ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass. To garnish, dash Angostura bitters decoratively over top cocktail.
Bourbon has many flavor characteristics, but at its core is the caramelized sweetness that comes from aging in charred new oak barrels. The spirit therefore pairs well with foods that have a caramelized component. With this in mind, one suggestion is a Caramelized Onion and Fig Pizza, which will bring in the caramel flavours with the onion and a little bold sweetness with the fig. Note: no matter what Chef Mike in the video says, there is no excuse to use ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’. Do yourself and your guests a favour and salute using a good, fresh virgin olive oil.
With a Bourbon Cocktail, it only makes sense to make some Bourbon Balls. Dark Chocolate pairs extremely well with Bourbon and in fact, the darker the better.
If you are unsure what you’ll talk about, then we have a few articles that can provide some fun facts for you and your guests.
How Well Do You Actually Know the Whiskey Sour?
How to Use Aquafaba (AKA Chickpea Brine) for Vegan “Egg White” Cocktails
How To Pair Cheese And Whiskey – an exciting little pair when you’re looking to spice things up.
Choosing the Best Whiskey for a Whiskey Sour
Drinking Whisky Sour Cocktails can encourage people to engage in risky behaviour, discover scientists