View Full Version : Whiskey Sour-ing

01-31-2007, 08:36
This thread is not (yet, anyway) about my essays in the bourbon, rye and whiskey sour.

But something that seems a little unusual occurs to me and I will start with that.

We have seen in another thread many expert comments on the Margarita. Even though I am a neophyte in matters tequilan, I can see it is a fine drink and I intend to experiment further.

Yet, reading the posts, another thing becomes evident: the recipes are essentially what you would do to make a whiskey sour if the tequila was replaced by whiskey. The key to both drinks, apart from the spirit, is some element of citrus and some element of sweet (even in a dry Margarita since triple sec or curacao are sweet). Orange plays a role of course in the Margarita but not necessarily in the closely related tequila sour.

In other words, why don't we see informed discussions here of the bourbon or rye or blended whiskey sour? At one time these drinks were a byword for whiskey appreciation in America. They have, seemingly, fallen off the map, to be replaced (I suggest) by tequila sours and Margaritas. For some reason the latter have become fashionable and the good old whiskey sour is grandad's drink if that.

Yet, made with fine whiskey, I suspect the whiskey sour is as good or better than any tequila-based sour.

Whiskey sour, come home.


01-31-2007, 09:00
I love a good bourbon sour, though admittedly I haven't made one in a while. Leslie and I are headed to the theater tonight, and you have inspired me to have one as a pre-performance cocktail. :yum:

01-31-2007, 09:01
Gary, my very first experience with whiskey was with a whiskey sour in the late '70's (if you exclude a date with JD and coke that ended with a three day hangover when I was in highschool). I enjoyed them then and still do when made properly. "Properly" to me is defined as using fresh lemon juice (or a sour mix using fresh citrus)....none of those powdered "whiskey sour" mixes. I've enjoyed them with a slice of orange added. Heck, throw in a cherry for something to snack on if you want to. But its hard to beat equal parts lemon juice and a sweet bourbon like ORVW 10/107. Shake over ice and drink it straight up with a slice of orange for garnish if you want.


01-31-2007, 09:16
Thanks gents, I'll try Randy's version soon.

If you come up with something good, Jeff, let us know please.


01-31-2007, 09:26
Not to cast aspersions on anyone's masculinity, but the whiskey sour was always more grandma's drink than grandpa's.

Early Times had some success promoting a drink called the Pussycat, which was essentially a whiskey sour. It was based on a powdered mix, however.

A few months back, when I was actively experimenting with margarita combinations, I did exactly as Gary suggests, not with triple-sec but with bourbon and sweet-and-sour mix. I liked it well enough but while I like margaritas in their own right, apart from my enjoyment of straight tequila, with every bourbon mixed drink I try, I find myself wanting to strip away the distractions and just drink the bourbon.

The only exception may be a very good manhattan.

I am reminded of Pappy Van Winkle's advice that you should always add bourbon to water and not water to bourbon. That way, you are always making a poor thing better rather than making a good thing worse.

01-31-2007, 11:23
Hey, I'm not worried. :) The Sour may have become favoured (although I am not sure) by women after the Second War but this is definitely not true before that. All the historic and other bartending manuals I know include recipes for a sour and the market then for whiskey and drinks based thereon was almost exclusively male. I think too these questions get tied into social practices and cultural expectations. I mean, if earthy-tasting tequila is regarded as worthy of being mixed in a Margarita, it stands to reason a fine straight whiskey will just make a better sour. Recall too, the tequila sour long predates the Margarita, which was invented in the 1940's. The tequila sour came from a time when whiskey would have been regarded as a better spirit for the sour than tequila but through the magic of the name Margarita and the vagaries of fashion, the frozen and plain Margarita is pretty much the only game in town for sours nation-wide..

Item: the rye sour was the official drink of that annual racecourse event they have in Baltimore, what do they call that, Dave (Gonano)? That was and is a tony event, maybe I just have elegant tastes :). As for Pappy's advice, I'd say, yes, he's right, but whiskey is whiskey and cocktails is cocktails, two different (albeit related) things...


02-04-2007, 14:50
I think whiskey sours (always made with bourbon and fresh lime juice) are a great summer drink!

I usually use bourbon that I have infused with fresh mint... it adds an additional bit of summer freshness.

02-04-2007, 16:49
I have been playing with whiskey sours for the past few nights. I have a store bought sweet and sour mix, although it is not the neon green kind and actually has bits of lemon, quite good. I have been mixing equal parts of this with ETL and just a squeeze of fresh lemon on top. The other nightI decided to mix it up a little and added a bit of Grenadine to the mix. Put it all in a shaker with ice, poured and drank. I like this a lot, however I would be hard pressed to order this in a bar as it came out pretty pink and froo-froo lookin.

02-04-2007, 22:24
There is a new restaurant in town that is getting fantastically good reviews. One of those places that you might hear about from a few different people in the same day. I went for the first time the other day, for lunch. The food was quite tasty, and I noticed they had an interesting sour on their cocktail menu:

Tamarind Whiskey Sour $7.00
Tamarind, fresh lime juice, palm sugar and bourbon on the rocks.

As it was before Noon and we were with some acquaintances we don't know that well, I didn't order one, but it sure caught my attention. I think I'll try one at home and then try theirs to see how they match up.