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A Classic Whiskey Sour

The Classic Whiskey Sour

by Barbara Kiebel on March 9, 2012

A few weeks ago I wrote about another classic cocktail, the Manhattan, and I won’t deny that experience had me start thinking about other cocktails of my parents generation and this was one that came to mind. I can see why it’s maintained it’s popularity; it’s an elegant combination of ingredients and certainly beyond simple to make. A combination of bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup is shaken together with ice. Historically the drink has included a bit of egg white which creates a a slight frothy head on the drink and I do prefer it this way but the egg white is not crucial to the flavor so it’s definitely optional.

Many people might concoct this particular cocktail using a ‘sour’ mix but those too often use artificially flavored ingredients. This is such an easy drink to prepare and the use of fresh lemon juice really is key to it being a great cocktail. I’ve never been one to buy pre-made mixes; there is just no way they can compare with fresh juice and simple syrup combinations.

As simple as the cocktail is; the real trick is in getting a balance to the sweet and sour components and finding one that best suits your taste. The trickiest part of mixing this drink is adjusting the ratio of sour (the lemon) to sweet (the sugar) to get a flavor balance that pleases you.

This recipe is courtesy Liquor.com; a spirits partner I’ve started working with recently. They’ve produced a short video on the making of the Whiskey Sour and I found their proportions suited my tastes perfectly; mostly in that the proportions were not overly sweet; if you prefer a slightly sweeter cocktail, just add a bit more of the simple syrup. Check out their section in the sidebar for contests, events and other libation information.

If I recall, my parents served this in a highball glass and that’s what you’ll see in the video too but I just wanted something a bit fancier so a martini glass it was! Enjoy…and cheers!

A Classic Whiskey Sour

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 cocktail

A Classic Whiskey Sour

There is a reason some cocktails are classic and the whiskey sour is a good example; just as good today as when it was first created.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces of bourbon (I love Maker's Mark; it's not outrageously pricey but it's a good quality bourbon and in this drink...the bourbon is VERY evident)
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ oz simple syrup (Mix 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved; remove from heat and cool).
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of egg white (optional)
  • lemon wedge and maraschino cherry garnish

Preparation

  1. Combine bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white in a cocktail shaker. Shake well for 20 seconds. Add at least a cup of ice and shake for another 20 seconds.
  2. Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass and garnish with the lemon wedge and maraschino cherry on a skewer.
http://www.creative-culinary.com/whiskey-sour/

Thanks for visiting...I would love to hear from you!

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jen Lang February 22, 2013 at 10:52 pm

You nailed it on the head with balancing the sweet and sour contrasts… mmm, when you get it right, there’s nothing that tops a good whiskey sour for me!

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2 Creative Culinary February 23, 2013 at 8:37 am

Such a great cocktail is too often ruined with premixed sweet and sour mix. It’s SO easy isn’t it to just juice a lemon! I love them too; I’m gonna love some tomorrow night during the Oscars too!

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3 Sarah December 4, 2012 at 5:41 am

I can’t wait to try this cocktail recipe out, I don’t like it straight but I love mixing it with other drinks to make unique tastes. I would recommend buying whiskey online as there are websites out there who do really good deals.

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4 Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet September 6, 2012 at 10:16 pm

How I wish I had the ingredients for this cocktail right now. Sounds incredible. (as usual)

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5 Beverlee Berry May 23, 2012 at 8:46 am

my first drink ever many, many years ago was a whiskey sour, it came in a very small glass and always had a cherry and orange on a toothpick, and was foamy. I have tried them at all kinds of restaurants and they bear NO resemblence to the ones of old, help whats going on guess no one drinks them anymore, always thought they were a good little drink.

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6 Creative Culinary May 23, 2012 at 8:58 am

That foamy part is from the egg whites! I prefer them made at home; a lot of restaurants use a mix for the sour element and I prefer using fresh juice…you should try making them; they are so good!

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7 Melissa March 25, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Can’t wait to kick off the new season of Mad Men with this tonight. Cheers!

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8 Lékué March 21, 2012 at 9:07 am

Hi there! Just a quick note to let you know we are running a cocktail contest on our Facebook page. Feel free to enter with one of your delicious and original recipes! The best one gets a prize! Entries open until March 25th 2012.
http://www.fb.com/LekueWorld

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9 Adryon March 13, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Oh Barb, this looks so lovely. After such a crap day I would kill for the perfect whiskey sour. Beautiful!
Adryon Most Recent Post: Coming Home and Homemade Cheesesteaks

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10 Creative Culinary March 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Shoot sweetie…wish you were closer; I would have one in your hand in a heartbeat! Feel better.

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11 Ibenk December 5, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Thanks again for the hookup on this. It was great meeitng you and R. I’m sure we’ll bump into each other again at another Pharmacie party. BTW, my article won’t be in print till Oct. since the mag is a bi-monthly.

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12 foodwanderings March 13, 2012 at 10:47 am

Honestly Barb, I would not know a whiskey sour from a Manhattan and I am getting quite an education here. Love this series, I can learn and pretend to be sophisticated! :)
foodwanderings Most Recent Post: Delicious & Fluffy Yeast Pancakes

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13 Creative Culinary March 13, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Trust me I am learning some things on the way too…I’m enjoying the ‘classic’ series; trying cocktails that were my parents favorites back when I was only drinking a Shirley Temple. :)

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14 Laura March 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

I’ve got a bottle of unopened bourbon at home, and until now I had no idea about what I was going to do with it. Until now……cool drink!
Laura Most Recent Post: Diarrheal vomit just in time {NOT}!

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15 Creative Culinary March 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Perfectly good idea Laura…it is classic and I think should be more popular!

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16 Julie March 13, 2012 at 9:44 am

Yummy! That’s what I’d call delicious! It could be the main attraction on my birthday party next week, thanks for the inspiration!
Julie Most Recent Post: wisdom tooth infection symptoms

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17 Creative Culinary March 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Well, whatever you choose to be your main attraction Julie…I hope it’s a fun birthday celebration. Cheers!

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18 Jeanette @ This Dusty Kitchen March 12, 2012 at 11:15 am

I think I would love this and it does sound surprisingly simple to make. I love your notes about ‘Why Shake?’!
Jeanette @ This Dusty Kitchen Most Recent Post: Apple Dumplings

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19 Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray March 12, 2012 at 10:55 am

This looks so perfect Barb!
Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray Most Recent Post: Vegetarian Quinoa Black Bean Chili

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20 Amanda March 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Barbara I can only imagine the fun you must have putting these posts together! I’m not a huge spirits drinker, but you always make these cocktails look very desirable.
Amanda Most Recent Post: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) alive & well in Adelaide – Jupiter Creek Farm

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21 Terra March 11, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I love the pictures, it makes me want a sip right about now:-) Your whiskey sour sounds delicious! Hugs, Terra

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22 Donna March 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I used to love Amaretto sours. Thanks for reminding me. I need to stir up something new, I think!
Donna Most Recent Post: Spring is here! And we’re eating it for #Sunday Supper

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23 Brian @ A Thought For Food March 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I love a good whiskey sour and one that is made with fresh ingredients is always the best!
Brian @ A Thought For Food Most Recent Post: {Silent Sunday: Maine}

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24 Lorraine @ Figs and Artichokes March 11, 2012 at 11:12 am

Love a classic cocktail. I have been ordering Sidecars recently, but this may be my next regular order.

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25 Elizabeth March 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Probably my favourite drink of all, basic, simple and elegantly delicious!
Elizabeth Most Recent Post: Chocolate Chip Pancakes

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26 Creative Culinary March 13, 2012 at 8:13 pm

You can not deny too that it absolutely packs a bit of a punch…there is no denying the bourbon in this drink is there? Cheers!

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27 Daisy@Nevertoosweet March 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Nice drink :) Never had a Whiskey Sour think it’s time I drank more hehe and I really need to get some martini glasses ~
Daisy@Nevertoosweet Most Recent Post: New Place – Ariel Le Cafe

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28 Creative Culinary March 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm

You can also made this is a plain short highball glass too; I did the martini just because I thought it was pretty. :)

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29 Danijela March 10, 2012 at 9:11 am

Hello,
this is wonderful. I didn’t know that egg white is one of ingredients, so I am surprised. Thanks for this recipe, I like it. :)
Danijela Most Recent Post: Want Starbucks Like Coffee at Home? Syrups to the rescue!

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30 Creative Culinary March 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I tried it first without the egg white and I did like it a bit better with a bit of froth…but the flavor is the same either way. Cheers!

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31 vianney March 10, 2012 at 12:03 am

fresh kemon juice is the way to go. I would love to try this at home with the egg white. stunning pics, lovely!!
vianney Most Recent Post: Joy the Baker’s Avocado Fries & CookBook Review

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32 Creative Culinary March 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Thanks Vianny…it makes ALL the difference; I can not imagine buying a dry or even a bottle of mix when this is so dang simple. Cheers!

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33 Lora ~ cakeduchess March 9, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I’ve only seen a Whiskey Sour in a highball glass but love the classy martini glass. And that shot where you can look right into the glass is very cool and very tempting! You cocktail temptress, you!;)
Lora ~ cakeduchess Most Recent Post: Coconut and Almond Cake {Torta di Cocco e Mandorle}

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34 Creative Culinary March 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm

My parents used to just make them in a short glass so I guess the moral of this story is…they are good in any glass!

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35 Chez Us March 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Great minds think alike. I have been meaning to write about Whiskey Sours for the past year, after a friend in Boston reintroduced them to us. Love them! I just posted a version this morning too! Yours looks delicious and I send a cheers your way!
Chez Us Most Recent Post: Friday Cocktail Hour | Homemade Sour Mix and a Whiskey Sour

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36 Paula March 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm

The *old* stuff is always classic. Beautiful photos of a wonderful cocktail. Congratulations with the partnership with Liquor.com Barb. I love your cocktail skewer!
Paula Most Recent Post: Deployment Cookies

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37 Creative Culinary March 13, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Thanks Paula…I’m so glad I found the skewer! I have pulled so much stuff into my dining room where I take photos and I couldn’t find them. Duh…it was still in the drawer of my actual bar area!

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38 Rich March 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Gotta love a whiskey sour
Rich Most Recent Post: Cigar Smoking Etiquette

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39 Creative Culinary March 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Well, I do now but that first sip I imbibed as a kid thinking I was sneaking my mom’s lemonade? Well, I’m pretty sure I spit it out on her. :)

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40 Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking March 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Barbara, this whiskey sour looks wonderful and your styling is stunning! What a pretty drink and I bet it goes down very smooth…

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41 Creative Culinary March 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Thanks so much Georgia; your kind comment is very much appreciated.

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42 Lisa | Dust with Flour March 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I always wondered what makes the sour sour. Duh. It’s just lemon juice. Thanks for posting this recipe!
Lisa | Dust with Flour Most Recent Post: TWD: Rugelach from Baking with Julia

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43 Creative Culinary March 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Now you know that made me for real chuckle out loud right. Duh! Because if you had asked me before I made this cocktail from scratch I would have been hard pressed to say myself but let’s blame the ingredients that we wouldn’t be able to pronounce on a bottle of something we would not really want to drink, OK?

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44 Toni @ Boulder Locavore March 9, 2012 at 10:25 am

I love that you made this cocktail Barb. I have not ever had a Whiskey Sour (that I recall) but like you it brings me back to my parents era of Cocktail Hour; a civilized habit of a daily after work cocktail at home when everyone got off work at 5 and no one was beholden to life 24/7 due to cyberspace. I have spent many years of my cocktail life as a devoted Manhattan drinker and the Liquor.com video got my attention too, wondering how a Whiskey Sour is made. Hands down these classic cocktails should be a staple of anyone’s cocktail existence. I’d take one over a Fuzzy Navel any day.
Toni @ Boulder Locavore Most Recent Post: Chef Will Nolan: Food and Wine’s ‘The People’s Best New Chef’ award and Sausage Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Parsley Sauce

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45 Creative Culinary March 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I’ve been having a lot of trips down memory lane recently and that is surely one of them. How I would long for a work day that stopped on a dime at 5pm and knew a cocktail would be close at hand. Ah…for the good old days!

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46 Ken│hungry rabbit March 9, 2012 at 9:19 am

We are so in sync. As I’m baking something with whiskey, I see this post. Definitely leaving that bottle out for this evening or earlier.

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47 Creative Culinary March 9, 2012 at 9:41 am

I love baking with bourbon; I’ll use other types of liquor occasionally but I’m not sure I love anything better with a sweet component than a whiskey. Cheers Ken!

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48 Elle March 9, 2012 at 7:14 am

Whiskey Sours have to be one of my top favorites of all time. They’re so refreshing, and like you said–not too sweet. Usually. ;) Fortunately, I’ve hardly ever met one that I didn’t like.
Elle Most Recent Post: Tropical Sunshine Muffins

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49 Creative Culinary March 9, 2012 at 7:28 am

The truth is Elle that this cocktail is new to me. Well, to my adult me. I recall sneaking a sip of my mother’s once and just about died; no, that really is not lemonade Barbara. For some reason that experience left me keeping them at a distance. I can certainly see why a kid would not love one; the bourbon really is front and center…which is exactly why I loved it now!

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50 Elle March 9, 2012 at 7:31 am

Ha! I was saying on Facebook that the first one I ever had was at my cousin’s wedding. I was not yet 21, but it was an open bar and I guess I looked old enough. Someone recommended one to me and I’ve never looked back. They’re so clean and refreshing. Same thing with Tom Collins. Love those, too!
Elle Most Recent Post: Tropical Sunshine Muffins

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