Easy to whip up and oh so delicious to imbibe. Guaranteed to get rave reviews any time it's served. It's one of those easy, comforting cocktails that works so well as the end of a busy day when little effort but big flavor are needed.
Not only is the whiskey sour a perfect cocktail to enjoy on a weeknight, in all seasons, it even works well served at special occasions. You get that tangy bite of lemon combined with the sweetness of simple syrup and the frothiness of the egg white. It's one that never gets old, and can easily be riffed with other sprits.
A Little History of the Whiskey Sour
The whiskey sour is thought to have originated in the 1700s with English sailors ("limeys") mixing citrus with their on-board spirits; the rum version is usually called "grog". The first written record of the whiskey variant comes in the 1862 The Bartender’s Guide: How To Mix Drinks by Jerry Thomas. Others place the origin in Wisconsin or even Peru. Regardless of history, it's a simple cocktail that mixes a spirit, a sour, and a sweet.
What Makes a Drink a Sour?
A sour cocktail is made with fresh citrus juice, though you will see pre-made mixes out there. In this case, we're using fresh lemon juice. Sours typically have a base liquor, fresh citrus and a sweetener. Occasionally egg white is added to a sour drink to smooth it out and add that foaminess (often called the "Boston sour").
Variations use a splash of club soda or bit of champagne to lighten the cocktail. The mix of spirit, sour and sweet is so popular and pleasing there are endless variations, and can include muddled herbs or fruit or infusions. Common sour drinks are:
What Goes in it? (Ingredients)
There’s just four simple, fresh ingredients between you and the best whiskey sour recipe you’ve ever tried. Here’s what you need:
- Good quality bourbon whiskey (though other whiskeys will work just fine).
- Fresh lemon juice (which will taste much better than store-bought sour mixes).
- Simple Syrup. A simple combination of equal parts sugar and water. It's so easy to make your own and use it in so many ways. Justin combine equal parts sugar and water together over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves. Let cool before using and store sealed in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
- An egg white. The egg white is what gives this cocktail that foamy texture that is so dreamy.
Why is There Egg White in a Whiskey Sour?
The egg white shaken up with all of the other ingredients gives the whiskey sour the foamy texture. Adding an egg white is optional, and there is definitely debate among bartenders, but I definitely recommend it. There's little reason to worry about using raw egg white, but pasteurized eggs are available if you prefer to be extra careful.
Alternatively, if you're vegan and have a love for frothy cocktails, you can substitute aquafaba (aka chickpea water) instead of the egg white. Aquafaba is a pretty amazing all-around egg-white substitute. ¾ ounce of aquafaba will equal 1 egg white.
How to Make It
- For one cocktail; combine two ounces of whiskey, one egg white, ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice and ¾ ounce simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.
- Shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds to froth up the egg white.
- Fill the shaker with ice and shake for another 30 seconds until the cocktail is very cold.
- Strain the shaken cocktail into a coupe glass or a rocks glass.
- Garnish with 2 to 3 dashes of bitters and enjoy.
Calories in a Whiskey Sour
Calories calculations in a whiskey sour can vary greatly, depending on the exact ingredients and measurement of ingredients used. Most of the calories in this drink come from the whiskey. There are about 64 calories in 1 ounce of whiskey, and this particular whiskey sour recipe has over a little over 200 calories.
Special Cocktail Equipment
More Delicious Cocktail Recipes
- Mezcal Sour
- Rum Sour
- Hot & Smokey Mezcal Margarita
- Blood Orange Margarita
- Aperol Spritz
View all cocktail recipes
- 2 oz bourbon whiskey
- 1 egg white
- ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
- ¾ oz simple syrup
- bitters for garnish 2 - 3 dashes
- Combine the whiskey, egg white, simple syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Shake for about 30 seconds to froth the egg white.
- Fill the shaker with ice and shake until very cold, about 30 more seconds.
- Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a chilled coupe or rocks glass and garnish with a few dashes of bitters.
- Use a pasteurized egg if you prefer.
- Make it vegan by substituting ¾ oz aquafaba (aka chickpea water) for the egg white.
This post was originally published on September 11, 2019 and was last updated on November 9, 2020 to include updates and more useful information.