Knowing the offerings of each glass is a prided characteristic of many whiskey fans. However, it’s not always suitable to sip whiskey neat. If it’s important for you to find a whiskey drink you can enjoy in all types of situations, you might consider giving whiskey sour a chance.

Both simple to make and easy to order, a whiskey sour is the perfect go-to drink for whiskey lovers on a night with friends.Whether you’re enjoying a night in by yourself or entertaining friends, a whiskey sour is a tried and true cocktail any whiskey lover can whip up with ease.

What is a Whiskey Sour?

Via Giphy

A whiskey sour is a classic cocktail dating back to the 19th century. It consists of three staple ingredients: whiskey (often bourbon), lemon juice, and sugar.

The drink’s first public mention was in 1870 when it made its debut in the Waukesha Plain Dealer, a Wisconsin based newspaper. Many dub Elliott Stubb at the original creator of the whiskey sour in 1872.

Although its history is fuzzy, the whiskey sour is a very widely known drink today. In fact, many bartenders will recommend it to you if you don’t know what to order because it’s enjoyed by so many.


woman drinking whisky

Image source: Pixabay

The taste of a whiskey sour indeed is sour, but not overpowering. The drink itself is all about flavor balance and simplicity. This beverage provides a welcome change of pace from the flavor complexities of most cocktails.

The concept of a whiskey sour is to use just the right amount of lemon to counterpoint the whiskey and the right amount of sugar to offset the bitter lemon.

In addition to lemon and sugar, this beverage is also known to use an egg white in some variations. The practice of adding egg has been around for practically the same amount of time as the drink itself.

The egg white softens the acidity of the lemon and smooths the drink’s texture ensuring a smooth sip every time. Additionally, the egg white adds a nice frothy layer on top making this drink easy on the eyes.

Beware, the added smoothness of the egg white allows you to put away these drinks pretty quick without noticing the punch the whiskey can pack. Although you rarely encounter egg used in whiskey sours, if you make the drink yourself, be sure to give it a try for a silkier version of this sour drink.

Which Whiskey to Use

A whiskey fan would never want a cocktail that covers up the taste of their whiskey. American whiskeys are usually used to make this beverage, but it can also be done with Scottish or Irish brands.

For the best way to bring out the whiskey flavor, use something with a higher proof so it won’t be buried by the extra flavors this drink brings.

Listed below are some whiskeys that work well with the lemon and sugar pairing of a whiskey sour.

Four Rose

A very versatile bourbon, Four Roses is an excellent pairing for whiskey sours.

This blend is smooth enough to go down nicely, but also has enough of a bite that it won’t be overpowered by the sugar.

Basil Hayden’s

If you’re looking for a whiskey sour that is as refreshing as it is sophisticated, give Basil Hayden’s a try. The black tea and peppermint notes make it an ideal pairing.

Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve

For something out of the ordinary, try your whiskey sour with this rich and earthy blend. The sweetness of vanilla and honey contrasts the smokiness of scotch to make a whiskey sour well worth a try.

Buffalo Trace

Whether or not you opt to add the egg, this whiskey can hold up without being buried

by other flavors. The citrus and toffee notes are ideal for whiskey sours.

Templeton Rye 

While typically whiskey sours are made with bourbon, this rye is a favorite among

bartenders. It is smooth and sweet but has enough spiciness to hold its

own against the sugar and lemon.

If you prefer lighter or lower proof whiskeys, you may want to cut back the lemon and sugar by about half. This way, you can still enjoy the flavor and identity of the whiskey.

How to Make a Whiskey Sour

Aside from the classic lemon and sugar method, there are multiple different ways you can make a whiskey sour. The next time you’d like to make a drink at home, try out some of these variations.

The Simple Whiskey Sour

The Egg White Whiskey Sour

The Double Standard Sour

The New York Sour

The Baltimore Bang

Cinnamon Maple Whiskey Sour

Featured Image: Photo by from Pexels

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