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How to Make a Whiskey Sour: 3 Steps to a Whiskey Sour

By
Sarah Ward
Table of Contents
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How to Make a Whiskey Sour

A whiskey sour is one of those drinks that any bartender or aspiring drink mixer needs to know how to make. This drink is a classic of the bartender drinks for a reason: it never goes out of style. These days, so many drinks involve multiple types of liquor and some juices, along with other ingredients. The old-fashioned nature of the whiskey sour recipe draws in crowds of whiskey fans who want something classic. The whiskey sour ingredients are simple enough, and that simplicity keeps this drink as a fan favorite in bars and home-bar settings alike. When it comes to learning how to make a whiskey sour, the base recipe is pretty easy to master. Sure, you’ll need a few ingredients on hand, as well as a shaker (or a mason jar). You may need to know "How much is a part?" for measurements' sake. Overall, however, learning how to make a whiskey sour is fairly easy. It’ll give you a great trick up your sleeve if you’re a bartender or just an appreciator of whiskey. There’s no better way to appreciate whiskey than to master a drink that’s been a part of the whiskey world since the 1800s. 

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What is a Whiskey Sour

So, what is a whiskey sour? It’s been said that a whiskey sour is the perfect blend of spirits, citrus, and sugar. The whiskey sour goes far enough back that we don’t know who came up with the blend. We do know that it dates to the early 1800s, and some variance of it may have started out even earlier. The whiskey sour recipe started out with whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, and egg white. It’s evolved since then, but it remains a classic favorite. 

The whiskey sour first hit the written history of drinks in 1862. The Bartenders Guide by Jerry Thomas put the recipe for the whiskey sour down on paper. It’s more than likely that people were enjoying whiskey sours long before then. In terms of drinking history, Thomas’ book was one of the first full books of drink mixes and knowledge in print. It’s only fitting that the whiskey sour was in this early book, as it has gone down as one of the best classic drinks. In the same vein as a classic martini or a Tom Collins, the whiskey sour has seen some creative twists throughout the years. However, the original recipe never goes out of style. 

Whiskey Sour Variations

As it goes with any great cocktail, there are many variations of the whiskey sour classic. Through the years it’s been mixed up with different garnishes, flavored variations of liquors, and different mixes to get the smooth quality just right. However, the classic whiskey sour is the best place to start when you’re learning how to make a whiskey sour. It's also a great option if you want to go out to a bar and enjoy this whiskey drink.

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How Do You Make a Whiskey Sour

Learning how to make a whiskey sour is simple. All you need to know is the whiskey sour ingredients and the practice to combine them. For a classic whiskey sour recipe, the ingredients are: 

  • 2 ounces of bourbon whiskey
  • ¾ ounce of lemon juice - fresh squeezed is best
  • ½ ounce of simple syrup - store bought or homemade
  • ½ ounce of egg white - this is optional, and there are alternatives
  • Angostura bitters - a vital addition for that unique flavor

All these ingredients are delicious, but together, that’s when they shine. To mix up a great whiskey sour with these classic ingredients, follow these steps:

  1. Put the bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white into a shaker (or your trusty mason jar). Then dry shake (without ice) everything together for 30 seconds.
  2. Then add some ice and shake again until your drink is chilled all the way through.
  3. Strain your whiskey sour into a glass - a coupe glass if you want to be true to the drink.
  4. Add a few drops of Angostura bitters for your garnished flavor. 

And with all that, you’ll have made a great, classic recipe whiskey sour. However, there are some other recipes to try out if you want a twist on the classic.

Whiskey Sour Recipe

Through the years bartenders and home connoisseurs have created variations of this classic cocktail. One great variation is the New York sour. This twist subs out red wine for the Angostura bitters, and goes about the steps a little differently. For the New York sour, you: 

  1. Put the bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white into a shaker with ice, and shake it until it’s mixed well.
  2. Strain the mix into a rocks glass over ice.
  3. Pour the red wine over the back of a spoon, so that it floats on top of the other ingredients. 

This drink is perfect for whiskey and wine lovers. Another great option is to mix the classic whiskey sour recipe with some blackberry flavoring. The tart and yet still sweet blackberry flavor complements every part of the whiskey sour. To make a blackberry whiskey sour, you can add in blackberry liqueur, blackberry simple syrup, blackberry brandy, or any blackberry-flavored mixer you like. This one’s all about personal preference, so play around with it and see how you can make the whiskey sour your own.

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How to Make a Whiskey Sour: In Conclusion

The whiskey sour is a classic cocktail. No matter which variation of this stellar drink you prefer, learning how to mix up this whiskey wonder is good for any bartender (especially to avoid any pitfalls of the 86 meaning). Any whiskey drink is a good drink, but the whiskey sour will always be one of the best.