Pre-prohibition cocktails and modern twists on classics

Whiskey Sour


    2oz Bourbon

    .75oz Lemon Juice

    .75oz Simple Syrup

    Maraschino Cherries


    Add bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup to a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with the Maraschino cherries.


    The Whiskey Sour is one of the most famous classic cocktails of all time, withstanding the effects of prohibition, which took many other classics into relative obscurity. Unfortunately, most bars will make their sours with that abomination known as sour mix.  Don’t do it! Enjoy the sour the way it was meant to be with fresh squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup. The combination of whiskey, sweet and sour makes for a timeless taste, that is sure to please almost anyone.

    A Few Tips:

    • Some folks add a little egg white to their sours, giving them a creamier consistency. This can range from a dash to a complete egg white. Remember, if using egg, dry shake the cocktail before adding the ice.
    • If you are not a big fan of “fruitier” cocktails, you could cut back equally on the lemon juice or the simple syrup.
    • Along the same lines, it’s also worth trying this one with a higher proof bourbon, such as Old Weller Antique (107 proof) or Knob Creek single barrel (120 proof). The added proof really changes the dynamics quite a bit, giving the sour a more spirit forward flavor.
    • Use a couple Luxardo cherries with a little syrup left on them. As you enjoy your cocktail, the trace amount of syrup will slowly diffuse into the glass and add some subtle cherry flavor to this classic.


    Thomas’ original recipe called for sugar dissolved in a touch of seltzer, but simple syrup will do  just fine.

    The whiskey sour was first published in Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon Vivant’s Companion (1862) and later republished in his famous The Bar-Tenders Guide. However, most believe that the sour existed long before this time, some dating it as far back as the 1700s. Regardless, this one has stood the test of time and is an original that almost every other “sour” cocktail evolved from.


    Countless. Imagine any variation of spirit, sweetener and juice and it’s clear that there are a lot of options when it comes to the sour. Essentially, almost every cocktail with citrus juice and sugar could be considered a spin off of this one. Think of the Pisco Sour, Sidecar or Margarita to name some of the more popular sours.

    If you’re feeling adventurous, try some Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub or Xocolatl Mole bitters (or both).

    Bitters: While traditionally the whiskey sour is made without bitters, try adding a dash or two to change the flavor up and add a little more complexity. Angostura is a great choice but many other types of bitters will do well. Experiment and see what you like.

    5 Responses to “Whiskey Sour”

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