Whiskey cocktail

Whiskey Sour

A Sour is not so much a drink as a concept. Lemon or lime juice, almost any liqueur, and sugar – in the proper proportion – make up a Sour. Don’t even think about using a packaged mix for this cocktail. A simple yet magical blend, Sour was first made with brandy in the mid-19th century. Bartenders flirted and still have occasional flings with many other base liquors, but whiskey was the liquor of choice in the late 19th century, with rye on a par with bourbon. Bourbon is still preferred by many, but blended whiskeys and scotch have fought over the place. Add a splash of grenadine to a Whiskey Sour and you have the sophisticated Ward Eight.

Always prepare Sours fresh. Here’s a surefire rule of thumb for making a perfect Sour every time: mix 2 ounces of your chosen alcohol with 1 teaspoon of sugar and 3/4 ounce of lemon or lime juice (the flavor ” sour”) and shake with crushed ice. Replace lime juice with lemon in a Scotch Sour. Shake a Sour well for a really frothy drink and serve straight in a cocktail glass, on the rocks in a thick Old Fashioned glass or in a Sour glass. Garnish with any assortment of fresh seasonal fruits.

  • Yield: 1 drink
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: Less than 5 minutes
  • Asset: Less than 5 minutes

Ingredients (4)

  • 2 ounces rye or blended whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar or simple syrup
  • Slice of orange or lemon (or both) and a maraschino cherry


Shake whiskey, lemon juice and sugar vigorously with ice; then strain over ice into a chilled cocktail glass, Old Fashioned glass or highball glass. Garnish with a slice of orange or lemon (or both) and a maraschino cherry.

Variants: Vodka, gin, rum, brandy, and pisco sour can all be made by replacing the respective spirit with rye or whiskey mixed into a whiskey sour.