Years of half-hearted drinks served with chemical-tasting sour mix may have earned the whiskey sour a negative notoriety. The whiskey sour, in its purest form, is a simple, well-balanced joy and a historical jewel. The whiskey sour, like the daiquiri, margarita, and a slew of other popular drinks, belongs to the sour drink family. Sour beverages, which date back to at least the 1600s, are the forerunners of today’s cocktail. Sour drinks like the whiskey sour and the daiquiri, according to the Difford’s Guide, are the genuine test of a competent bartender.
Naval ships crossing the Atlantic are supposed to be the origin of sour drinks. Because fresh water was scarce, mariners turned to alcohol to stay hydrated, according to Eight Oaks Distillery. Scurvy was a common ailment among sailors, and it was caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. To overcome these concerns, ships carried vast quantities of citrus fruits such as limes, lemons, and oranges. Sailors somewhere in the Atlantic started to mix the two life-saving components into a delicious drink. These sea-faring concoctions made their way onshore in the 1600s and resided in London’s Punch Houses. According to Everlong Print Co., these early cocktail establishments offered a brew of liquor, sugar, and citrus in enormous punch bowls. The classic sour cocktail still has the triple danger of alcohol, sugar, and citrus.
The Whiskey Sour Makes an Appearance
The whiskey sour cocktail’s precise origin is uncertain. According to Liquor.com, the first printed recipe for a sour cocktail was published in 1862. For context, the Civil War was raging in the United States at the time, and the federal government had just issued its first one-dollar bill. According to On This Day, the Westminster Bridge opened in England, and Lewis Caroll developed the idea for “Alice in Wonderland.”
A page in the “Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide” has a recipe for a sour cocktail. A few years later, in the Wisconsin daily Waukesha Plain Dealer (through Difford’s Guide), the first mention of a whiskey sour appears: “‘Amen,’ replies the Methodist, as he orders another whiskey sour.” Sweeteners and mixtures have tainted whiskey sour since then. Ward III’s Kenneth McCoy told Liquor.com, “There were extraordinarily sweet sours steeped in grenadine in the 1980s. I can understand how some individuals have had horrible luck.”
Drinkers of whiskey sours should avoid ordering them in a bar, according to Thrillist’s Anna Archibald, because the outcomes may be dubious. Instead, she recommends creating the cocktail the old-fashioned manner at home using high-quality ingredients. Fortunately, a whiskey sour just requires three basic ingredients and leaves plenty of space for experimenting. Lemon, bourbon, and simple syrup are all you need (also known as sugar water).
What Is The Best Whiskey Sour Recipe?
The difference between a wonderful whiskey sour and a just adequate beverage, according to Bon Apétit, is high-quality bourbon and fresh-squeezed lemon juice (rather than bottled). In a pinch, lime may be used in place of lemon. According to Liquor.com, the secret to a great whiskey sour is to maintain the acidic and sweet flavors at a 1:1 ratio for a balanced taste. The finest whiskey is bourbon, which is sweeter and less peppery than rye. A cocktail cherry and an orange wheel are optional garnishes. It’s debatable whether a whiskey sour should be served on the rocks or straight up, according to several sources.
According to BBC’s Good Food, egg whites are a wonderful ingredient to whiskey sours since they give the drink a silkier and smoother texture. While some claim that egg whites were the original fourth component, Standard Spoon claims that adding an egg white to a Boston Sour turns the cocktail into a Boston Sour. The whiskey sour with egg white was originally published in William Schmidt’s 1892 book The Flowing Bowl. Cocktail drinkers most likely added the egg to mask the flavor of sour bourbon.
If you want to try adding egg whites, Liquor.com recommends doing a “dry shake” when mixing the cocktail. A dry shake is one in which all of the components are shaken without the use of ice. After that, add ice and shake one more. The egg whites will have a perfect frothy and silky texture as a result of this technique.
Using Whiskey Sours in Novel Ways
Though some may consider the whiskey sour to be a “old man’s” drink, it is, at its core, a lively and lighthearted beverage. The whiskey sour offers a lot of room for creativity and experimentation. The New York sour, according to Liquor.com, is a popular version in which the whiskey sour is topped off with red wine to give it a sunset-like color. However, the wine offers more than just visual pleasures. According to Liquor.com, the red wine balances out the citrus’ acidic flavor. According to BBC’s Good Food, a fruity wine like Shiraz, Merlot, or even Port is ideal with a New York sour. Pour the wine carefully over the back of a spoon to get it to “float” correctly, suggests Food & Wine.
Bitters are another component that adds a little spiciness to the drink. Drops of bitters produce great patterns in egg white foam from a decorative aspect. The addition of ginger liquor to a whiskey and ginger sour, according to BBC’s Good Food, is another source of spiciness. A splash of amaretto, as well as a dab of orange marmalade, are great ways to sweeten the drink, according to Thrillist.
The nicest thing about the whiskey sour is that, although it may put a bartender to the test, its shady background allows it avoid cocktail snobbery. The drink appeals to a wide range of palates and benefits from its diversity.