Classic Whiskey Sour Recipe

Table of Contents

whiskey sour in a coupe glass Photo by Johann Trasch on Unsplash

Sip, Shake, and Savor: How to Make a Whiskey Sour

Let's embark on a delightful journey into the world of whiskey sours – a classic cocktail that's as versatile as it is delicious. Whether you're an experienced mixologist or just looking to impress your friends at your next gathering, we've got you covered.

We'll explore the history of one of the most famous whiskey cocktails, including a step-by-step whiskey sour recipe, glassware choices, tantalizing variations, and more.

A Spirited Tale: History and Origins of the Whiskey Sour Recipe

Before we start shaking things up, let's travel back in time to uncover the

18th century whiskey sour

fascinating origins of the whiskey sour recipe. Legend has it that this popular drink, with its tart flavor and smooth finish, dates back to the 18th century when sailors mixed their daily ration of watered-down whiskey with citrus juice to prevent scurvy. Thus, the whiskey sour recipe was born, a drink that eventually made its way from the high seas to the highball glasses of bars around the world.

Shake It Up: A Step-by-Step Easy Whiskey Sour Recipe

Making whiskey sours may seem like a complex task, but fear not, it's mostly a simple combination of sour and whiskey! We've got an easy whiskey sour recipe that will have you sipping in no time. You'll need the following ingredients:

White’s Elixirs Sour 750 ML - UPC 680327994833

(Don't have time to make your own mix? White's Elixirs has a delicious Sour Mix made with pure cane sugar, fresh lemon juice, and a kiss of honey.)


- 2 oz Bourbon whiskey (Choose a lower middle or higher shelf whiskey for a fantastic flavor)

- 3/4 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice.

- 1/2 oz Simple syrup. Water plus a nice sugar will do for simple syrup. Not in the mood to make simple syrup? White's Elixirs has you covered!

- Optional: 1 egg white (For a frothy, luxurious texture)

- Maraschino cherry (Garnish for the finishing touch)


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. The more, the merrier – your whiskey sour recipe deserves it!

(Note, if you wish to use an egg white, you might want to "dry shake" all ingredients without ice first. Then add the ice at end and shake once more.)

Now, with your cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour in 2 oz of your chosen bourbon whiskey. Remember, better whiskey makes a better whiskey sour!

Add 3/4 oz of freshly squeezed lemon juice. This gives your drink that tart, zesty kick.

original size

Next, sweeten the deal with 1/2 oz of simple syrup. If you're feeling fancy, drop in an egg white. Or use aquafaba as an egg white substitute.

Now, with all the ingredients loaded in, shake vigorously. Your shake should sound like a choo choo train.
Use a Hawthorne strainer and strain the mixture into an old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice cubes. Or, strain it into a chilled coupe glass.
If you used an egg white or aquafaba, the chill and shape will really allow the egg white froth to set up nicely. Garnish your masterpiece with a maraschino cherry and a lemon peel. It's all about presentation, baby!

Glassware and Ice Choices

Choosing the right glass and ice can elevate your whiskey sour experience to a whole new level. Here's the lowdown:

Glassware: The classic choice to serve your tangy drink is an old-fashioned glass, also known as a rocks glass. Its short, sturdy design allows you to appreciate the cocktail's aromas while keeping it chilled.

whiskey sour in a rocks glass

However, if you're feeling extra fancy, serve it in a coupe glass adds a touch of elegance to your sip.

Ice: Use ice cubes that haven't absorbed any funky odors from your freezer. If you prefer a smoother sip for your drink, consider using cracked or crushed ice. It chills your drink quickly and dilutes it slightly for a smoother experience.

Whiskey Sour Recipe Variations: Shake Things Up in Your Sour Family!

The classic whiskey sour recipe is fantastic, but sometimes you need a twist. Here are a few variations on this timeless cocktail to keep things exciting:

White's Elixirs Sour Banana Cocktail Recipe on YouTube
Banana Sour

1 oz White’s Elixirs Sour Mix

2 oz Bourbon

1 oz Banana Liqueur

Boston Sour

Swap the simple syrup for maple syrup and add a pinch of cinnamon. This northeastern twist will give your whiskey cocktail sour a cozy, fall-inspired flavor.

Amaretto Sour

Replace the bourbon with amaretto liqueur for a nutty, sweet take on the whiskey sour. It's like dessert in a glass! You can probably skip the simple syrup on this one.

New York Sour Photo by Leonardo Luz

New York Sour

For a red wine twist, make a classic whiskey sour and float a layer of red wine on top. It's a visual stunner and a flavor explosion.

Gold Rush

This modern classic swaps bourbon for rye whiskey and honey syrup for a richer, sweeter flavor profile. It's a whiskey sour cocktail with a golden touch.

Egg White-Free Recipe

If you're not a fan of egg whites, don't worry! You can still enjoy a delicious whiskey sour without them. Simply omit the egg white in the recipe, and you'll have a lighter, more traditional version. Or use aquafaba!

Frequently Asked Questions About the Whiskey Sour Recipe

freshly squeezed lemon juiceCan I use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemon juice for my whiskey sour cocktail?

While you can use bottled juice in a pinch, fresh is always the best choice. It provides a brighter, more vibrant flavor that truly elevates your whiskey sour recipe.

What's the deal with the egg white in the recipe? Is it safe to drink raw eggs in cocktails?

The egg white in a whiskey sour recipe adds a silky texture and frothy head to the cocktail. While the risk of salmonella from raw eggs is typcially low, you can use pasteurized egg whites or aquafaba for extra peace of mind.

Can I make a whiskey sour cocktail without a shaker?

Photo by cottonbro studio:

You can still make a decent whiskey sour without a shaker by vigorously stirring the ingredients in a glass with ice. However, a cocktail shaker makes it easier to achieve the perfect blend and frothy texture.

What's the best whiskey for a whiskey sour cocktail?

The ideal bourbon for this cocktail recipe is a matter of personal preference. Some prefer a smooth, mild bourbon, while others enjoy the complexity of a high-rye bourbon. Experiment to find the best whiskey for you!

Is there a way to make a mocktail (non-alcoholic cocktails) whiskey sour?

Absolutely! To make a non-alcoholic whiskey sour, replace the bourbon with a non-alcoholic whiskey alternative or a flavored syrup, or even just simple syrup, for a similar cocktail experience without the booze.

Virgin Sour Apple Lemonade

mocktail sour apple lemonade


1 1/2 oz Sour Mix

4 oz Lemonade

1 oz Apple juice (sugar free if you want to cut calories)


Add ice to your glass.

Pour in the mix, lemonade, and apple juice.

Stir well to combine. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a maraschino cherry.

Virgin Strawberry Sour Cooler


1 1/2 oz Sour Mix

2 oz Strawberry puree

4 oz Soda water


Fill a glass with ice.

Pour in the sour and strawberry puree.

Top it off with soda water. Stir to mix. Garnish with fresh strawberries and a lemon twist.

These non-alcoholic sours are perfect for those looking to enjoy the tangy goodness without any alcohol. Cheers to delicious and refreshing booze free cocktails!


There you have it – the delightful journey of crafting the perfect whiskey sour, one of the most famous of classic cocktails. From its seafaring origins to the countless variations you can explore, this classic cocktail never fails to please.

So, grab your cocktail shaker, the best whiskey for your budget, sugar, and lemon juice, and shake up a great whiskey sour!

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