A simple drink well made will make you very happy.

The Whiskey Sour is the most well known member of the sour cocktail family. If you’ve read our guide to Classic Cocktail Recipes or Sour Cocktails you already know how to make it.

It is simply two parts whiskey. One part sweet. One part sour. Shaken. Strained over ice in a highball glass. Easy.

Except, the devil is in the details…

Making the Best Whiskey Sour

  • Style of Cocktail – Sour
  • Glass – highball
  • Ice – cube ice
  • Egg white – optional

The Whiskey Sour is the quintessential balance of spirits, sugar and citrus. This simple structure is a tart and refreshing drink. Its simplicity also makes it easy to create variations. And, there are dozens of them.

Flavor Description

  • Strong
  • Sweet
  • Tart

More often than not the whiskey is Bourbon. Sometimes American rye. Occasionally, Irish or Canadian. This is backbone of the drink. You don’t want it to gets lost, so choose one with good flavor.

Fresh lemon juice is the other big flavor component. What you’re going for is bourbon lemonade. It’s simple, tart, and refreshing.

With a couple of minor tweaks you can make it exceptional.


  • Whiskey – High rye, cask strength bourbon works well.
  • Lemon Juice – If it’s not fresh don’t bother.
  • Sugar – sugar or simple syrup are fine.

Best Whiskey for a Whiskey Sour – I prefer a high rye or cask strength bourbon. Bulleit Cask Strength is both cask strength and has a high rye mash bill. Booker’s is always a good flavor packed choice. For a third option go with Woodford Reserve.

Whiskey Sour Mix – Here is the secret to so called sour mix: it is nothing more than sugar, water and lemon juice. You don’t need it. Squeeze a lemon. Done. So much better.

For sugar you can use refined sugar or simple syrup. If you want to get fancy you can substitute maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, or flavored syrup.

Whiskey Sour – Egg White – Egg white is optional. In a whiskey sour egg white is used to give the drink a richer, smoother mouth-feel. The point isn’t so much to make a thick foam head. Egg whites also have a bit of a drying effect. That means you might want to adjust the amount of sugar you use in your drink.

Whiskey Sour Recipe


  • 2 oz bourbon or rye
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • lemon twist for garnish


  1. Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds.
  3. Strain in a highball glass filled with ice.
  4. Garnish with a lemon twist.


  • I like to add a drop or two of Angostura Bitters as a flavor enhancer.
  • Make an oleo-saccharum by infusing your sugar with lemon zest. The added lemon oils make a huge difference.
  • You can add egg whites to enhance the mouth-feel. You aren’t looking to make a frothy meringue foam here so you can skip the dry shake details.



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