We wish it were at least twice as often but alas, the twenty-fifth of August is the only day a year that marks one of our nation’s finest holidays, National Whiskey Sour day. Hemingway would have been proud. So make like Ernest and shake up one of these with a friend or two (though we don’t recommend following it up by looking for a bar fight, which Mr. Hemingway probably would have done on whiskey sour day).
Whiskey sour lore is hazy at best about the true genesis of this cocktail. While the stories of a Peruvian swashbuckler and a Wisconsin newspaper printing the recipe are compelling, neither were first to press. With such simple ingredients, though, it’s fairly certain the drink had been created informally long before it was first recorded in print by Jerry Thomas, the father of American mixology in his 1862 book “How to Mix Drinks: The Bon-vivant’s Companion.”
What is a ‘Sour’?
The sours are a family of mixed drinks that contain a base liquor, lemon or lime juice and sweetener. Just follow the three-S-rule – strong, sour and sweet. Strong is a base spirit (bourbon in this cocktail), the sour component is the lemon or lime juice(lemon here), and sweet is your superfine sugar or simple syrup (superfine sugar in this one).
The addition of egg whites to this drink was, for a time, separately distinguished as the Boston Sour. Over time this has become regarded as the classic style for the whiskey sour and is now a standard ingredient in this recipe. The egg white adds a wonderful balance on the palate, a silky mouthfeel and a classic presentation.
Your choice of glassware should inspire your garnish. When serving in an old fashioned glass, opt for the traditional garnish of half an orange slice and a maraschino cherry or switch that orange out for a lemon wedge. A cocktail pick with a maraschino cherry or two looks pretty smart overtop the egg white froth and bitters “hearts” when served in a coupe glass. Garnishes are an art in and of themselves, so get creative and impress your friends.
The Whiskey Sour Recipe
2 oz. bourbon
.75 oz. lemon juice
1 tsp superfine sugar
.5 oz egg white
1-2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Advance your drink by nailing the measurements with a beautiful hammered copper jigger.
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