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How to Make a Whiskey Sour: A Step-by-Step Guide

There are few things more refreshing on a hot summer day than an ice-cold Whiskey Sour. A staple cocktail dating back to the late 19th century saloons, the Whiskey Sour balances sweet, sour, and strength into a deceptively easy drink that will have you asking for seconds. However, making the perfect Whiskey Sour takes more than just dumping whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup into a glass. The right balance of ingredients and technique are required to create a version that tastes as good as it looks. In this post, I'll share my favorite Whiskey Sour recipe along with some tips and tricks I've learned over the years to take your Whiskey Sour to the next level. Let's get started!

Make a Whiskey Sour

What Is Whiskey Sour?

The Whiskey Sour is a classic cocktail that has stood the test of time. A perfect blend of whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar, this drink offers a harmonious balance of sweet and sour. Originating in the 1870s, it has become a staple in bars worldwide. Its simplicity and depth of flavor make it a favorite among both casual drinkers and connoisseurs.

Why Do You Make Whiskey Sour?

Why should you make a Whiskey Sour? For starters, it's an effortlessly elegant drink, ideal for any occasion. The combination of the smooth, robust notes of whiskey with the sharp, refreshing tang of lemon juice creates a harmonious blend that is both invigorating and comforting. This balance makes the Whiskey Sour a versatile choice, suitable for various occasions, be it a casual gathering with friends or a more formal event.

Another compelling reason to make a Whiskey Sour is its simplicity. With just a few ingredients—whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar - you can create a cocktail that feels both sophisticated and accessible. Furthermore, the Whiskey Sour is highly customizable. You can adjust the sweetness or sourness to your liking, experiment with different types of whiskey, or even add unique twists like a dash of egg white for a frothy texture or a splash of red wine for a New York Sour.

In essence, the Whiskey Sour is a drink that invites you to explore the depths of whiskey while enjoying the playful interplay of sweet and sour, making it a perennial favorite in the world of cocktails.

Drink Whiskey Sour

How Do You Make a Whiskey Sour?

Creating a Whiskey Sour is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Whether you're a cocktail enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of spirits, you'll find joy in the process of crafting this timeless drink. Let's delve into the ingredients and the step-by-step instructions to guide you in making your own exquisite Whiskey Sour.

Recipe Ingredients

To begin, you'll need the following ingredients for a classic Whiskey Sour:

  • Whiskey: 2 ounces (Bourbon or Rye are popular choices)
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: ¾ ounce (ensures a bright, fresh flavor)
  • Simple Syrup: ½ ounce (to balance the sourness)
  • Ice: For shaking and serving
  • Garnish: Optional, such as a maraschino cherry or a lemon twist
  • Egg White: Optional, 1 (for a frothy, creamy texture, this is optional but recommended)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Step 1: Measure out your whiskey, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup. If you're using an egg white, separate it from the yolk and have it ready.
  • Step 2: In a cocktail shaker, combine the whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add the egg white if you're using it.
  • Step 3: Start with a dry shake (no ice) if you're using an egg white, to emulsify the egg and create a smooth texture. Then, add ice to the shaker and shake vigorously. This chills and dilutes the mixture, ensuring a smooth, well-integrated cocktail.
  • Step 4: Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice. A rocks glass is traditionally used for a Whiskey Sour.
  • Step 5: Garnish with a maraschino cherry or a lemon twist. Serve and enjoy the refreshing and balanced taste of your homemade Whiskey Sour.

Whiskey Sour

Warning Tips When Making a Whiskey Sour

When making a Whiskey Sour, it's important to be mindful of a few key aspects to ensure your cocktail is both delicious and safe to enjoy:

  • Quality of Ingredients: The quality of your ingredients can significantly impact the taste of your Whiskey Sour. Always use fresh lemon juice rather than bottled for the best flavor. The whiskey you choose will also dictate the overall flavor profile of the drink, so select one that you enjoy on its own.
  • Balance of Flavors: Achieving the right balance between the sourness of the lemon and the sweetness of the syrup is crucial. Be careful not to overdo either component. Start with the recommended measurements and adjust according to your taste preference.
  • Use of Egg Whites: If you choose to add egg white for a frothy texture, ensure it's fresh to reduce the risk of salmonella. Some people may prefer to use pasteurized egg whites for added safety. Additionally, be aware of any egg allergies.
  • Shaking Technique: Proper shaking is essential. If you're using egg white, start with a dry shake (without ice) to emulsify the egg, then add ice for the second shake to chill the drink. Make sure to shake vigorously to properly integrate all ingredients.
  • Strain Properly: Strain the cocktail well to avoid any unwanted ice chips or egg white residue in your drink. Using a fine mesh strainer can help achieve a smoother texture.

By paying attention to these details, you can craft a Whiskey Sour that is not only delightful to taste but also safe and enjoyable for everyone.


In conclusion, learning how to make Whiskey Sours can be an enjoyable experience. This guide has equipped you with the knowledge to create a beautifully balanced Whiskey Sour, blending the bold flavors of whiskey with the zesty freshness of lemon. Remember to focus on quality ingredients, strive for balance in sweetness and sourness, and adjust the recipe to suit your personal taste.

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