Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour consists of whiskey, lemon juice, sugar syrup and optionally protein. A good Whiskey Sour has the perfect balance of sweetness, acidity and the aroma of cask aged whiskies. The traditional Whiskey Cocktail has been popular for centuries and is served in the best bars in the world.

Whiskey Sour
The perfect balance of sweetness, acidity and the aroma of Bourbon Whisky. This is what makes a Whisky Sour (Photo: whisky-sour.com).

Recipe for the Original Whisky Sour

Whisky Sour ingredients:

Preparation

  • The first step is called Dry Shake. Put all ingredients without ice into a cocktail shaker and shake for 12 seconds.
  • Then follows the Wet Shake. Add the ice cubes to the other ingredients in the shaker and shake again for 12 seconds.
  • Strain the contents of the shaker into a suitable glass.
  • Optional: Garnish the cocktail with a slice of orange and a cocktail cherry.
Print this recipe

The preparation of a Whisky Sour Cocktail on video

How do I make sugar syrup myself?

Whisky Sour without sugar syrup? That does not have to be! I will show you how to make sugar syrup very simply. A basic distinction is made between:

  1. Simple Syrup
  2. Rich Simple Syrup
  3. Different types of sugar

Simple and proven: Simple syrup with common household sugar

Making sugar syrup yourself is easy. You simply dissolve a certain amount of sugar in water - and the syrup is ready. . For 500ml of Simple Sour you take 500ml of water and stir in 500g of sugar. It is quicker if you heat the water beforehand. It should not boil, however, as this causes water to evaporate, which can lead to the ratio no longer being correct. Simple Syrup tastes great in Whisky Sour because it is not too sweet. It should not be stored for too long, as it can start to go mouldy due to the relatively low sugar content.

Sweeter and longer lasting: Rich Simple Sirup

Rich Simple Syrup is sweeter than simple syrup and has a sugar to water ratio of 1:2. This makes it safer to store, as bacteria can hardly multiply due to the sugar. It is a bit thicker than Simple Syrup and is also very suitable for Whisky Sour. However, you have to take care to use less syrup for mixing. If you mix the Whisky Sour with Rich Simple Syrup, you should use one third less syrup than with Simple Syrup. In our recipe this would be 1.3cl Rich Simple Syrup for one serving.

For those who like to experiment: Different types of sugar

Apart from the white sugar commonly used in households, there are of course other types of sugar that differ in taste, appearance and price. In this table you will find an overview of all the information about the different types of sugar:

Type of sugar Advantages Disadvantages
White sugar + high degree of purity

+ versatile

+ durable

- no nutritional added value

- more expensive than white sugar

Brown sugar + high degree of purity

+ versatile

+ durable

- very similar in taste to white sugar

- is often only dyed

- no nutritional added value

- more expensive than white sugar

Raw cane sugar + increased nutrient content

+ has a stronger taste than white sugar

+ aromatic

+ durable

- In contrast to whole cane sugar, it is partially refined

- has therefore less nutrients

- more expensive than white or brown sugar

Whole cane sugar + Highest nutrient content of all sugar types

+ strong own taste

+ often available in organic quality

- less long shelf life than the other types of sugar

- Since it is a natural product, natural variations in taste and colour occur

- is the most expensive of the sugar types mentioned here

What can I use instead of a cocktail shaker?

If you don't have a cocktail shaker at home, that's no problem. You can still mix your whisky cocktail using alternatives. All you need is a clean, sealable container with a sufficiently large capacity and a sufficiently large opening. For example, washed-out preserving jars or jam jars, or even fresh-keeping boxes are suitable for this.

Which whisky is suitable for Whisky Sour?

A good Whisky Sour lives from the perfect balance of sweetness, acidity and the aroma of good whisky. The quality of the ingredients plays a central role. Tastes vary, but a bad whisky can be recognized quite quickly. If the whisky tastes sharp, smells like bad vanilla and reminds you of solvents, you should not even try to mix a good Whisky Sour cocktail with it. Most of the cheapest whiskies from discounters are not suitable for this. But it does not have to be the most expensive drop. For about 20-30€ a bottle you can often get good quality whiskies, with which you can get good results. Basically, many whisky types are suitable for Whisky Sour, but the American original is most often prepared with Bourbon.

Bourbon is made from a mash that must consist of at least 51% corn. The remaining 49% can consist of different types of grain. Usually this is barley, rye or corn.

How do I recognize a good Bourbon?

A good Bourbon Whisky is comparatively mild on the palate, soft on the finish and has fine flavours of vanilla, oak, fruit, spices and honey. The taste should be complex but not artificially enhanced.

Here are some examples of whiskies in the lower price range:

Maker's Mark, Four Roses or Knob Creek

The additional information for Bourbon Whisky is of course also important. The addition Straight means that the whisky has been aged for at least two years in new American oak casks. Kentucky Straight Bourbon or Kentucky Bourbon must have been distilled in Kentucky. Tennessee straight whiskey or Tennessee whiskey must have been distilled in Tennessee.

Whisky Sour without egg white or with egg white?

Whiskey Sour without Egg
Eggs in Whisky Sour: They should only be processed as fresh as possible and preferably in organic quality.

Some who hear about a cocktail with raw protein for the first time are sceptical at first. You can't blame them, because salmonella can actually multiply in raw eggs and can lead to a salmonella infection when consumed. Therefore, it is very important: Only use eggs that are as fresh as possible and stored in a cool place! Then the least can happen. If you still have concerns, you should prepare the Whisky Sour with the recipe without protein. Personally, I have never had any problems with salmonella from the many Whisky Sours I have drunk so far.

If you use super fresh eggs, the egg white will give you a rounder taste and combines the flavours of the other ingredients nicely. In addition, shaking with egg white gives a nice head of foam, which enhances the cocktail visually. I personally like the Whisky Sour with egg white best.

How do I mix a Whisky Sour vegan?

As a vegan alternative to protein, water from a can of chickpeas is suitable. This water is also called Aquafaba. Simply replace the protein from my recipe with 2cl of water from a can of chickpeas and process it in exactly the same way as the protein.

In the water there are similar proteins as in the egg white, which binds the cocktail and creates a beautiful foam crown.

If you don't want to use canned chickpea water, you can also buy bottled Aquafaba. Fee Foam you can get for example in this shop.

As an alternative to fresh eggs, egg white powder is also suitable. This has a longer shelf life and can be easily mixed with water if required. One teaspoon corresponds to about half an egg white. When mixing, it is best to put the powder in the shaker last so that it mixes well with the other ingredients.

Which glass do I use to serve the Whisky Sour?

Whisky Sour is most often served in a tumbler glass or in a beautifully decorated Old Fashioned glass. Very high quality are glasses made of lead crystal or cut lead glass. However, classic cocktail glasses with a long sems are also suitable.

The most important aspect in choosing the right glass is, in my opinion, that the glass matches the ambience in which you drink your Whisky Sour. Drinking from the right glass makes a good Whisky Sour even more fun.

You can find a selection of different glasses on the net at important shops.

How do I decorate a Whisky Sour?

To garnish your cocktail like a good bartender, you can cut orange slices and stick them on the edge of the glass or put a cocktail cherry (also called Maraschino cherry) on top of the whitecap. For an extra flavour and a nice look you can also put one or two splashes of Angostura Bitter on the head.

Whiskey Sour Dekoration
Lemon zest or Maraschino cherries are great for decorating Whiskey Sour.

How many Whisky Sours can I drink?

Prof. Dr. Helmut Seitz and Prof. Dr. Gerhard Bühringer from the German Head Office for Addiction Issues make recommendations regarding the limits for the consumption of alcoholic beverages:

"Every person has an individually different risk for alcohol-related disorders, due to the interaction of their genetic make-up and their learning experiences. (…). The following values apply to healthy people without genetic or acquired health problems: The low-risk threshold dose in dealing with alcohol in healthy people without additional genetic or acquired risk is man at 24g alcohol per day and in women at 12g alcohol per day. (…). At this alcohol dose, at least 2 alcohol-free days per week should be observed.

You can also find more information on the information portals SAMHSA and NCBI

If you look at our nutritional table, we can see that one Whisky Sour (225g) contains about 18.7g alcohol. As a man you can drink a Whisky Sour at the end of the day with low risk if you don't drink alcohol for two days a week. Women are accordingly allowed to drink a small Whisky Sour (145g) at the end of the day. For our recipe this simply means: take a third less of everything.

What is the difference between Whisky Sour and Whiskey Sour?

Whisky Sour also appears in the spelling Whiskey Sour. Some also spell it Whiskysour or Whiskeysour. But which spelling is the right one? It depends on the direction you look from. If we look in the largest American online dictionary the spelling "Whiskey" is suggested. If you look in Cambridge Dictionary, the spelling "Whisky" is suggested. Since Whiskey Sour originally became popular in the American area, one could say that the spelling with the extra letter is correct. Especially if you prepare the Whiskey Cocktail with Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

When people in Europe talk about whisky, they often mean Scotch whisky. And it is written like this: whisky.

But of course there are exceptions here too. The American whiskey producer Maker's Mark uses the spelling without an e, although this is straight bourbon whiskey.

In the end it doesn't matter how you write it. What is meant, of course, is one thing: The tastiest cocktail with whisk(e)y on this earth!

On the following diagram you can see which of the two terms in Germany has been searched more frequently on Google in the last twelve months.

Whisky Sour Google Trends

Where can I buy the ingredients for Whisky Sour?

You can get most of the ingredients in the supermarket of your choice. Make sure to buy organic lemons and eggs. You can either buy sugar syrup as ready-made bar syrup or, even better, make it yourself with sugar and water. Ice cubes are available as crushed ice or as whole ice cubes (usually hollow cone ice cubes). Best here are whole ice cubes that are not hollow.

Good Straight Bourbon Whisky is more difficult to find in the supermarket. Whisky's that you often find there are for example Maker's Mark, Four Roses or Knob Creek.


Interesting facts about Whisky Sour

The history of Whisky Sours

The cocktail variant "Sour" was mentioned in writing in 1862 in the book "Bar Tender's Guide by Jerry Thomas.

The idea of mixing lemon, sugar and spirits was born much earlier, on board the many ships that were trading at that time. On these ships there was often a shortage of water and the sailors suffered from the dangerous disease scurvy due to vitamin C deficiency. Lemons and spirits could be kept even at sea and the vitamin C in the lemon prevented the spread of scurvy. Whenever the sailors went ashore, this recipe spread and sours with rum or brandy became the standard of any bar that was worth its salt.

The Whisky Sour was first mentioned in January 1870 in the US American daily newspaper "The Waukesha Plaindealer".

The popularity of Whisky Sour continued to grow and it quickly became a classic that no bar could do without. 1879 the great American daily newspaper "The Atlanta Daily Constitution" wrote: "When American meets American, then comes the Whiskey Sour“.

Nutrients of Whisky Sour

How many kcal does a Whisky Sour have? You can find out here. One serving (225g) contains:

water 169 g
Energy 277 kcal
Fat 0,18 g
of total fatty acids 0,014 g
carbohydrates 36,2 g
of which sugar 36,2 g
protein 0,18 g
salt 0,17 g
alcohol content Whisky Sour 18,7 g

Trace elements and vitamins in Whisky Sour:

calcium, Ca 4,5 mg
iron, Fe 0,202 mg
Magnesium, Mg 2,25 mg
phosphorus, P 13,5 mg
potassium, K 49,5 mg
Zinc, Zn 0,135 mg
copper, Cu 0,011 mg
Selenium, Se 0,675 µg
Vitamin C 4,5 mg
Thiamine 0,025 mg
Riboflavin 0,02 mg
Niacin 0,0007 mg
Choline 1,58 mg

Source of the data is the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

The 5 most common mistakes in Whisky Sour Cocktail

wrong ratio of sweetness, acidity and whisky

Does your Whiskey Sour taste too sour or too sweet? Or do you have the feeling your drink tastes closed and can't develop properly? This may be because the balance between acidity, sweetness and strength is not quite right. To avoid this common mistake, there is a simple but promising strategy: The 3-2-1 rule. It is used in many cocktails, especially the sours. These include Pisco Sour, Margarita, Sidecar.

The 3-2-1 rule means:

  • 3 parts strong
  • 2 parts sour
  • 1 part sweetness

Whiskey Sour
Illustrated: The 3-2-1 rule for the perfect balance of taste nuances.

This rule works best when:

  • The spirit drink has an alcoholic strength by volume of approximately 40% vol.
  • For the acidity use freshly squeezed lemon juice, no lemon juice from the bottle
  • For the sweetness syrup with a sugar to water ratio of 1:1 is used. This syrup is called: "Simple Syrup"

If your ingredients deviate from this and taste, for example, significantly stronger, sourer or sweeter, you should adjust the ratio accordingly.

The cocktail not shaken strongly enough

To make a nice head of foam when straining and to combine the ingredients and their flavours well, you need to shake your cocktail really well. The first shake, the dry shake, is the most important step for a good head of foam. Shake really hard for at least 12 seconds to foam the egg whites. In the wet shake, all the ingredients combine and are cooled down. You should also shake vigorously, but not as vigorously as the first shake.

Protein in Whisky Sour: too little, too much, too old

With the right amount of eggwhite, your Whisky Sour will be creamy, have an appealing head and round off the taste. If you use too little eggwhite, these effects will not occur. If you use too much eggwhite, the drink will taste fade and not like Whisky Sour. Here are two approximate values you can use for orientation:

  • maximum one eggwhite of size M per glass
  • At least half an eggwhite of size M per glass >/li>

Improper quality ingredients in cocktails

The errors described so far can be avoided relatively easily if you have bought the right ingredients. However, if your ingredients are bad, even the 3-2-1 rule or shaking vigorously won't help. You should pay attention to this when buying the ingredients:

  • fresh eggs! If the eggs are not really fresh, it can happen that the whole drink gets a sulphurous aftertaste and the foam smells unpleasant. If you can't get fresh eggs, leave them out.
  • press lemon juice yourself, ideally from organic lemons! Lemon juice contains many other delicious flavours in addition to the acidity, which are usually no longer present in ready pressed juices from the bottle. The worst are juices made from lemon juice concentrate. With concentrate juices your whiskey drink will unfortunately not be delicious.
  • Use high quality whisky! Even if some people think it doesn't matter if you use cheap booze instead of high quality whisky for a cocktail - I can tell you from experience: it does matter! If good bourbon whisky is used is exactly what distinguishes a cheap village disco drink from a world class whiskey sour. And the good thing about it: good Bourbon Whisky doesn't have to be expensive! In my chapter Which Bourbon is suitable for Whiskey Sour? I present some cheap whiskeys that are perfect for a good Bourbon Sour.

The wrong ambience for the fine Bourbon drink

A cocktail like the Whiskey Sour is not a drink for the plastic cup. Take your time with this drink and celebrate every step, from preparation to the last sip. Get a nice cocktail glass, such as an Old Fashioned glass or a tumbler glass, and garnish your drink so that it is pleasing to the eye. Put some music on top of it and drink it together with good friends or people you like.If you combine the above steps with the right ambience, then you can enjoy the perfect Whiskey Sour!


Whisky News


5 simple Whiskey Sour variations

The traditional Whisky Sour Mix is made with Bourbon, but other whisky types are also perfect for our favourite whisky cocktail! Here I present some recipe ideas:


Whiskey Sour
Whisky Sour also works great with different types of whisky! (Foto: Whisky-sour.com)

Whisky Sour with Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Scotch single malt whisky is often a little more complex in taste than bourbon and can taste peaty and smoky. Especially whisky distilled on the Islay Islands has strong smoky aromas. In Whisky Sour peaty whisky prolongs the finish and offers connoisseurs an exciting drinking experience. Because of the stronger aroma of the whisky I have adapted the recipe a little bit. Have fun with the recipe for the Islay Whisky Cocktail:

Preparation

  • 5 cl smoky single malt whisky
  • 4 cl fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cl Sugar syrup (Simple Syrup)
  • egg white (optional)
  • 5 ice cubes

Preparation

  • The first step is called "Dry Shake". Put all ingredients without ice into a cocktail shaker and shake for 12 seconds.
  • Then follows the "Wet Shake". Add the ice cubes to the other ingredients in the shaker and shake again for 12 seconds.
  • Strain the contents of the shaker into a suitable glass.
  • Optional: Garnish the cocktail with a slice of orange and a cocktail cherry.

Whisky Sour with Rye

Rye whisky differs from Bourbon in its production and taste. On the one hand, the mash from which the spirit is produced must consist of 51% rye (for Bourbon it is 51% corn). On the other hand, rye tastes a little spicier and heartier than bourbon. This of course also affects the Whisky Sour. This tastes great and is definitely worth a try!

Preparation

  • 6 cl Rye Whisky
  • 4 cl fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cl Sugar syrup (Simple Syrup)
  • egg white (optional)
  • 5 ice cubes

Preparation

  • The first step is called "Dry Shake". Put all ingredients without ice into a cocktail shaker and shake for 12 seconds.
  • Then follows the "Wet Shake". Add the ice cubes to the other ingredients in the shaker and shake again for 12 seconds.
  • Strain the contents of the shaker into a suitable glass.
  • Optional: Garnish the cocktail with a slice of orange and a cocktail cherry.

Whisky Sour with Ginger Ale

A little bit similar to the also very delicious Cocktail Moscow Mule is this variant. Ginger Ale and whisky shake hands and melt into a drink that is a little sweeter and a little weaker in alcohol content than the previously presented variants. Just the right thing for a hot summer day, it's worth trying!

Preparation

  • 6 cl Rye Whisky
  • 4 cl fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cl Sugar syrup (Simple Syrup)
  • egg white (optional)
  • 5 ice cubes

Preparation

  • The first step is called "Dry Shake". Put all ingredients without ice into a cocktail shaker and shake for 12 seconds.
  • Then follows the "Wet Shake". Add the ice cubes to the other ingredients in the shaker and shake again for 12 seconds.
  • Strain the contents of the shaker into a suitable glass.
  • Optional: Garnish the cocktail with a slice of orange and a cocktail cherry.

Whisky Sour Slush with the Thermomix

You have a Thermomix at home and would like to know how it can help you in your whisky sour mixing? I've put together a few ideas here to help you make your Thermomix the best bartender. Especially with larger quantities you can save a lot of time and effort.

Imagine the following situation: You are throwing a barbecue party in summer and want to offer your guests a refreshing drink. Your guests love Whisky Sour, but it takes too much time to mix five of them. For exactly such situations I have thought of the Whisky Sour Slush recipe. The Thermomix does most of the work.

Ingredients for five portions of the Whisky Cocktail from the Thermomix:

  • 30 g Bourbon-Whisky (e.g. Maker’s Mark)
  • 3 fresh organic lemons, cut in half
  • 12 g Sugar Syrup (Simple Syrup)
  • 100g Soda
  • 500g Ice cubes

Preparation

  • Place the lemons with the water in the mixing bowl, then chop for two seconds at turbo speed, insert the cooking basket and collect the lemon juice in a glass.
  • Remove the remains of the lemon from the mixing bowl and rinse the mixing bowl briefly with cold water.
  • Pour the lemon juice and the remaining ingredients into the mixing bowl and chop for 30 seconds at level 6.
  • Divide the Whisky Sour Slush between five cocktail glasses, garnish with a little lemon zest and enjoy.
  • Insider tip: The perfect whisky sour for camping, camping, outdoor, festival and on the road

    You're going camping or to a festival with friends and want to surprise them with a nice whisky drink, but don't feel like carrying all your bar utensils with you? Then I have a secret tip for you. With this Whisky Sour Survival Kit, you don't have to give up your favourite drink anywhere.

    Preparation

    • Mix sugar syrup, whisky and lemon and take it in a sealable container, e.g. jam jar, possibly already mixed directly with whisky.
    • Take the tin of chickpeas with you. These can be eaten later.
    • From the chickpeas simply empty cl into the container, shake and the whisky sour is ready.
    • Options for cooling:
    • Ice from the supermarket/gas station
    • Put whisky stones into the cool box

    Preparation

    • Pour the whisky, lemon juice and sugar syrup into the jam jar and screw it tightly.
    • When you are ready for your Whisky Sour, add two cl. of water from the can of chickpea, close the jam jar and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds.
    • Done! You can drink your Whisky Sour straight from the jam jar.
    • If you want your drink chilled, you can try the following:
    • Put the jam jar and the tin of chickpeas in a river to pre-cool them.
    • Put whisky stones into the cool box
    • Put the jam jar and the tin of chickpeas in a river to pre-cool them.
    • If you have a cooler with you, put all ingredients in it first.


    Whisky Sour Organic, sustainable, alcohol-free?

    Organic Whisky Sour

    Those who care about ecological nutrition do not have to do without it when mixing whisky sour. All ingredients needed to prepare a Whisky Sour are also available in organic quality:

    • Organic lemons are available in most supermarkets
    • Organic sugar is available in organic stores either as whole cane sugar or as organic beet sugar
    • Organic whisky can be found in relevant online stores.

    Sustainable straws

    From 2021 plastic straws are prohibited in the EU. This is a good thing, because there are much more sustainable alternatives:

    • Glass straws are pleasant to the touch and can be reused. They can also be easily cleaned in the dishwasher.
    • Metal straws can also be reused and cleaned in the dishwasher.
    • Bamboo straws can be reused, but should be cleaned by hand.
    • Compostable straws are intended for single use, but are more sustainable than plastic straws because they are completely biodegradable

    Is Whisky Sour also available non-alcoholic? Yes!

    For those who want to do without alcohol, but still want to enjoy a fine drink, there is also a solution! Most types of spirits, including whisky, are now also available in non-alcoholic versions. You probably won't find these variants in your next supermarket. But you can order them from the relevant online alcohol-free stores.

    You can then use the alcohol-free whisky as described in the recipe above. Note, however, that non-alcoholic whisky is often a little sweeter than whisky with alcohol. Accordingly, you should use less sugar syrup.


    Whisky Sour Highlights

    Where to get the most expensive whisky Sour?

    Whisky can be really expensive. Only in October 2019 the record for the most expensive bottle of whisky was broken. At an auction of the auction house Sotheby's, about 1.6 million Euro was paid for a bottle of Macallan from 1926. A Whisky Sour with our recipe would cost about 138.000€ with this whisky!

    Whisky Sour Records

    The oldest whisky owned by a human is Baker's Pure Rye Whisky, which was distilled in 1847. Source: Guinness World Records.

    The oldest Bourbon distillery is called Maker's Mark and is located in Loretto, Kentucky, USA It exists since 1805 and still distils good Bourbon Whisky, which I can recommend as a great beginner Whisky for Whisky Sour. Source: Guinness World Records.


    About me

    My name is Georg Badden. I love cocktails - especially Whisky Sour. Over the years I have tasted Whisky Sour in countless variations, from the pub around the corner to the award-winning bar. I have gained a lot of knowledge and experience. For example, that a really good Whisky Sour doesn't have to be expensive!

    Mixing the perfect whisky sour is an art. When the few ingredients are of good quality and their fine aromas are in just the right proportion, a truly special drink is created.

    On this page I would like to share my experiences and my passion with you and encourage you to mix yourself. Try it out, it's worth it!

    Whiskey Sour Georg

    Have fun mixing!

    Cheers, Georg