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Article: Best whiskey sour recipe, and the ingredients you need

Best whiskey sour recipe, and the ingredients you need

Best whiskey sour recipe, and the ingredients you need

I love a single malt neat. But, I also love whisky cocktails. They enhance, and elaborate on, flavour profiles and they can be, frankly, delicious. And, they can be a good way to introduce people to whisky (find whisky cocktails for new whisky drinkers here). So in this blog I’m going to talk about one of the best whisky cocktails out there: The Whiskey Sour.


A whiskey sour is a short cocktail made with whiskey, usually a bourbon. It’s part of a family of cocktails called ‘the sours’. As the name would suggest, this category of cocktails all include a sour component, which is usually citrus. They are one of the oldest cocktails, and are mentioned as far back as Jerry Thomas’s 1862 book “Bartenders Guide: How to Mix Drinks”.


A classic whiskey sour includes the following five ingredients:

  • Whiskey
  • Sugar syrup (half sugar, half water)
  • Lots of ice
  • Lemon peel
  • Maraschino cherry

There are other variants on whiskey sours. A New York Sour includes a few bar spoons of full bodied red wine floated on top. A ‘Ward 8’ whiskey sour includes lemon, orange juice and grenadine syrup. But the most common whiskey sour includes the above, classic, ingredients.


You can choose to include an egg white, or not. It’s optional. Some people don’t like the idea of a raw egg white in their cocktail, while others swear by it.

The original whiskey sour recipes didn’t include eggs. It was only when bartenders began experimenting on the classic towards the end of the 19th century that they started including egg whites. They found that using egg whites in their whiskey sour recipe balanced the flavours, made for a creamier mouthfeel, and allowed an attractive head of foam which looks good in a cocktail glass. Where an egg white is included the cocktail can be called a Boston Sour. But ultimately, it really doesn’t matter - a whiskey sour is a delicious cocktail with or without egg whites.


Whiskey sours, like many great cocktails, follow the golden ratio of 2:1:1. This means two-parts spirit to one-part sour and one-part sweet. An easy to remember recipe that you can use wherever and whenever you make a whiskey sour, and many other cocktails for that matter.

The other important rule to remember is that the whiskey sour is a shaken cocktail. Shaking, rather than mixing, the ingredients helps dissolve the sugar (you don’t want gritty sugar interrupting your smooth cocktail), and froth the eggs (if you’re choosing to use them).

How to make a whiskey sour in four easy steps:

  1. Pour 60ml of whiskey, 30ml of lemon juice, and 30ml of sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add as much ice to the shaker as you can, and shake thoroughly for 30 to 60 seconds.
  3. Strain into a glass over ice. Top tip: try using one large ice cube or sphere in your glass, as opposed to lots of normal sized ice cubes.
  4. Squeeze the lemon peel over your glass to release the essential oils, and then use the peel and a Maraschino cherry to garnish.

If you’re choosing to use egg whites, all you need to do is include 15ml of egg white in step 1.


Whiskey sours are often made with bourbon, and you can find more bourbon based whiskey sour recipes here. But, you can use different whiskies to create different flavours of whiskey sours, from spicy to smokey. So feel free to experiment and see what combinations you can come up with!

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