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6 Great Whiskey Sour Recipes for the End of Summer

August 25th is Whiskey Sour Day! We have some delicious twists on this classic cocktail to help you celebrate! 

What is it?

As far as cocktails go, the Whiskey Sour is one of the simplest. Brought about more than a century ago,  it is merely the combination of whiskey, citrus juice of some kind (though 9 times out of 10 it will be lemon) and a sweetening agent, usually granulated sugar or simple syrup. Most of the time, it is the proportions of these ingredients that differentiate one recipe from another. Conservative examples call for a 1:2:3 ratio for the sweet, sour, and liquor elements, while some up the pucker factor to a whopping 6 to 1 sour to sweet. The latter ventures too close to Sour Patch Kids territory for my palate — to each their own, guess.

If served in the traditionally in a sour glass, a garnish of half an orange slice and a maraschino cherry is added.

For starters, here’s a pretty standard recipe:

Whiskey Sour

Recipe and image courtesy of Four Roses Bourbon.

  • 2 oz Four Roses Yellow Label
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • Slice of lemon and a maraschino cherry

Shake and strain ingredients into an ice-filled sour glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge and cherry.

A History of the Whiskey Sour

If drinks were women…the whiskey sour would be the over-the-hill blonde, all flesh and dishevelment, voice a half-drunken purr and eyes that tell you she ain’t done yet.

-David Wondrich

The Whiskey Sour is as old as the cocktail field itself, first appearing in 1862 with The Bartender’s Guide by Jerry Thomas.

In the late 20th century, the Whiskey Sour, like many of the classic cocktails, had fallen on hard times, a much preyed upon victim of the mass=produced sour-mix craze. The very thought of it made one think old fogey or “grandma’s drink”.

Whiskey Sour Variants

While the classic whiskey sour contains whiskey (usually bourbon), lemon juice, sugar, but like anything, there have been many deviations:

Boston Sour

Many bartenders today serve a whiskey sour with the addition of an egg white. If added, some believe the drink should now be called a “Boston Sour”. Don’t get skeeved out by this folks, the creamy mouthfeel it gives the drink is phenomenal!!

Hari Kari

This pre-Prohibition whiskey sour is topped it off with soda water and garnished with as many fruits as you have available.

Ward 8

This take keeps the usual bourbon (or sometimes rye), but uses a mix of both lemon and orange juices. The usual sugar is swapped out for TRUE grenadine syrup, so don’t go reaching for that crusty bottle of red-dyed Rose’s that Aunt Lillian bought at the neighborhood Try-N-Save grocer during the Carter administration.

The Ward 8 is rarely served with the addition of egg white.

Whiskey Sour Recipes

Now that you know the basics, here are a few contemporary takes on the classic recipe!

Citrus Sour

Created by Celebrity Chef Michael Symon. Recipe and image courtesy of Knob Creek® Bourbon.

1 ½ parts Knob Creek® Bourbon
½ part Lemon Juice
½ part Simple Syrup
2 parts Orangina® Soda
5 sprigs Thyme
1 Egg White

Muddle thyme and simple syrup thoroughly in the bottom of the shaker. Combine with lemon juice, bourbon and egg white. Add ice and shake vigorously for one minute. Strain over ice and float with Orangina soda. Garnish with a few sprigs of thyme.

Tennessee Whisky Sour

Recipe and image courtesy of George Dickel No.12 Whisky.

  • 1.3 oz. George Dickel No.12 Whisky
  • 1.5 oz. lemon juice
  • 0.75 oz. simple syrup

Shake and strain ingredients into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge or cherry.

Jeff’s Redneck Sour

Recipe and image courtesy of Bulleit Rye.

  • 1.25 oz. Bulleit Rye
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon sour
  • 0.5 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 dashes grapefruit bitters

Shake and strain ingredients into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a grapefruit half wheel.

The Harvest Sour

Recipe and image courtesy of Crown Royal.

  • 1 oz. Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
  • .5 oz. Crown Royal Regal Apple Flavored
  • .5 oz. lemon juice
  • .5 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 Dash Pimento Bitters
  • 1 Egg White
  • Grated Nutmeg (optional)

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Grate nutmeg for garnish (optional).

Sip & Sour

At 107 proof, Baker’s Bourbon gives a bold touch to the timeless whiskey sour. Created by top NYCmixologistPamelaWiznitzer, Baker’s® Sip &Sour mixes cola syrup,AmaroAvernaand bitters to complement the robust flavor and silky smooth finish of Baker’s Bourbon to create a new kind of whiskey sour, while lemon juice and egg white give the cocktail its classic touch. Pour this cocktail over ice in a lowball glass and raise a glass to the holiday!

Created by New York Mixologist Pamela Wiznitzer. Recipe and image courtesy of Baker’s® Bourbon.

  • 1 3⁄4 parts Baker’s® Bourbon
  • 1⁄2 part Amaro Averna
  • 3⁄4 part Cola Syrup•
  • 6 dashes Angostura® Bitters
  • 3⁄4 part Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 Egg White

Combine Baker’s® Bourbon, Amaro Averna, Cola Syrup, 3 dashes Angostura® Bitters, fresh lemon juice and the egg white in a shaker without ice and shake vigorously. Once shaken, add ice and shake vigorously once more. Strain over fresh ice in a lowball glass and garnish with a lemon peel and three dashes of Angostura® Bitters.

*Cola Syrup Recipe

  • 1 can or bottle of craft cola

Pour one can or bottle of craft cola into a pan and heat on low. Allow to simmer and reduce for 10 minutes until it attains a syrup consistency. Remove and allow to cool.

Summer Sour

Basil Hayden’s is a smooth and spicy bourbon with a high rye content that blends perfectly with the sweet vermouth and tonic syrup found in the Basil Hayden’s® Summer Sour.The result is a flavor that’s both sweet and sour. Easy to make and delicious to drink,this cocktail is ideal for friends and family. Enjoy it in an ice-filled rocks glass for a cool cocktail in honor of Whiskey Sour Day!

Created by San Francisco Mixologist Matt Grippo. Recipe and image courtesy of Basil Hayden’s®  Bourbon.

  • 1 ½ parts Basil Hayden’s®  Bourbon
  • ½ part Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ¾ part Sweet Vermouth
  • ¼ part Tonic Syrup
  • 2 dashes of Angostura® Bitters
  • Orange Twist (for garnish)

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for ten seconds. Strain into an ice-filled rocks-glass. Garnish with an orange twist.


Embury, David, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks

Standard Disclosure: The “A History of Drinking” team received one or more of the products mentioned above for free. Regardless, we only recommend products or services that we either personally like or believe to be of interest to our readers. If a product sucks, we will tell you in no uncertain terms. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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6 Great Whiskey Sour Recipes for the End of Summer


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