Whiskey bar

How to Make the Perfect Whiskey Sour, According to an Irish Whiskey Expert

A whiskey sour is traditionally garnished with a wheel of orange.

Courtesy of Adare Manor

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For golf fans, this coming Thursday is circled on the calendar as the start of the Valspar Championship, in Palm Harbor, Florida, but for a larger swath of the human population, the date is significant for a different reason: it’s is March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, an occasion marked in many parts of the world by parades, festivals and the symbolic wearing of green clothing.

Occasionally cocktails are also enjoyed.

Tommie Doyle knows something about that last part. He is the whiskey ambassador at Adare Manora luxury resort in County Limerick, Ireland, home to a thundering course by Tom Fazio and a fancy redoubt called The Tack Room, where Doyle wrangles behind the bar.

Among the favorites on his menu is the whiskey sour, a classic cocktail he makes with bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg whites. It’s a way of doing it. But given the vastness of the spiritual university and the wide variety of whiskeys, Doyle says the possibilities are limitless. Simply find the whiskey that suits your palate, follow a few guidelines, and you’ll have no trouble concocting your own version at home.

How sweet

A whiskey sour gets its name for a reason. But there is still sugar in it. At the Tack Room, Doyle relies on a 2-to-1 water-sugar syrup, which he says helps create silky body, but he says all sugar is fair game. Where lighter sugars allow the spirit to shine brighter, darker sugars add more depth and complexity. Play and find the profile that suits your tastes.

A close up of an old fashioned whiskey cocktail

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The right acidity

Sailors of old mixed citrus fruits with whiskey to protect against scurvy. Nowadays, we do the same because it tastes good. Which citrus flavor should you use? Lemon is the “gold standard,” says Doyle. But lime and grapefruit work well too.

Details acting on eggs

Egg whites add a wonderful frothy texture. Just make sure the eggs are extremely fresh and that you separate them cleanly. Leave no yolks in the mixture.

Enter the Spirit

True to the classic whiskey sour tradition, Doyle uses bourbon, which he appreciates for its woody character. But there are no set rules. Different whiskeys have different profiles. Go with the spirit that animates you.

Whip it good

In a good whiskey sour, a silky foam is essential. But, says Doyle, you don’t want to spend “all night shaking.” Save yourself the effort and use either a standard blender or an immersion blender. Blitz for ten seconds, or just until the drink has become airy and light, Doyle said. “Then add ice and shake and amaze your guests with beautiful whiskey sours.”

And for the garnish?

Again, it’s the dealer’s choice. But an orange wheel and maraschino cherry are the traditional finishing touch.

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A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes to all GOLF platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Have Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.