5 Ingredients or Fewer

Whiskey Sour

March 20, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

The true sour is a study in simplicity—of whiskey, sugar, and citrus. Lemon is most common for the latter, but juice with any kind of noticeable acidity will work well. Traditional sours nearly always called for egg white, an ingredient that added a light, frothy, textural element to the cocktail. And believe it or not, the egg white provided a much-needed boost of protein after a night out on the town, something that was very popular with the early morning drinkers in the sporting set who made the cocktail so popular in the 19th century. —Erik Lombardo

What You'll Need
  • 2 ounces whiskey (some prefer bourbon, I like rye)
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio sugar:water)
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 egg white
  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker and dry shake until well combined, at least 10 seconds. Add ice to your shaker and shake again as normal. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tim Kern
    Tim Kern
  • Todd Smith
    Todd Smith
  • JohnZ
  • Jorge Henriquez
    Jorge Henriquez
  • Allyn

9 Reviews

Tim K. May 27, 2015
Cayenne pepper anyone? Two good dashes at the end as a garnish put it over the top for me. Just stir it in a bit before you drink it. = Awesome. John, I like the rosemary/thyme idea. I will have to give that a try. Clearly they go well with lemon on some of the chicken dishes that I've made; why not drinks?
PS007 November 8, 2014
So glad to see the egg white was included in the recipe, it drives me nuts when WS recipes don't include it.
OK cocktail geeks, if you really want to try an over-the-top WS, especially around the holidays, try adding smoke to the drink and use maple syrup for the sweetener. I use a Smoking Gun, but you can also ignite some wood chips (Oak is best for this application) and invert the shaker over it to capture the smoke. Have the rest of the ingredients ready to go and quickly pour in the shaker with the smoke. Dry shake first if you like to froth the egg white that way, then when you serve it, put a few drops of bitters on top the egg white and use a toothpick to pull them across the froth for a little eye candy, similar to a fancy latte. Finally, shave a bit of fresh nutmeg over the top. OMG AMAZING. you will not taste maple syrup per se, but the way it mixes with the smoke and rye is to die for.
Here are the amounts I use:
2 1/4 oz Rye
1 oz Fresh Lemon
1/2 oz Pure Maple Syrup
Egg White
Angostura Bitters to finish
Todd S. June 26, 2014
Alternate: No simple syrup - few drops of aromatic bitters muddled with cane sugar and lemon juice, then step 1, then lightly shave some vanilla bean over the foam. If serving in a boulevardier glass you should also chill the glass with ice cubes while you're making/shaking.
JohnZ June 13, 2014
This is my go-to drink. I like to make my simple syrup with thyme or rosemary. It gives it that little something "extra."
Jorge H. June 13, 2014
Made one on Wednesday night for my old man as a sort of early Father's Day dinner. Used home-made brown sugar & rosemary simple syrup and blended Scotch (since he isn't a fan of bourbon or rye). Did a 3:1:1 ratio (but only 1 egg white for both drinks) and he felt it needed more whiskey.
Allyn June 13, 2014
This is one of my go to bar drinks, though not a ton of bars use an egg white sadly. It's always good though.
Jorge H. June 3, 2014
Glad to have finally found a proper & correct recipe after having seen the travesties using sour mix, orange juice or any other awful distortion of ingredients.
Kate M. March 25, 2014
For an even better whiskey sour, use Meyer lemons and make your simple syrup with cane syrup. A friend made me this variation recently and the difference was amazing.
amysarah March 22, 2014
If you get the perfect balance of sweet/sour/whisky, a whisky sour is a pretty perfect cocktail. Will try this for sure! But my association isn't 19th century (not quite that old!); rather, my parents' 1960's cocktail parties, with Herb Alpert on the "hi fi," whisky sours all around. (Also, btw, they go great with Chinese take-out.)