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Classic Whiskey Sour

Two types of whiskey sour cocktails being served in a coupe glass and in a rocks glass.
Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Judy Haubert
  • Active Time

    3 minutes

  • Total Time

    3 minutes

The whiskey sour is one of the great classic cocktails. It is the standard-bearer of the sour family, which dates back well before the first cocktail book was published in 1862. The simple combination of whiskey, sugar, and fresh lemon juice is one of the most important developments of early mixed drinks and has managed to transcend centuries while spawning hundreds of variations. Today, from the most highfalutin cocktail church to your second cousin’s wedding, the whiskey sour is waiting in the wings to brighten your affairs.

The most important choice you have before you when making a whiskey sour is the selection of base spirit. Personally, I like a solid bourbon that doesn’t get in the way of things but also doesn’t lack character (Buffalo Trace is a go-to), but this classic cocktail is a wonderful vehicle for exploring a wide range of whiskeys. Some great sippers don’t jibe great with citrus, and some dusty whiskeys you might normally pass over seem to explode when mixed with fresh lemon. Then just keep your lemon fresh (within 12 hours of juicing is best) and your syrup simple (just equal parts white sugar and filtered water.)

Purists will sometimes demand egg white in a whiskey sour, but history has repeatedly shown us that plenty of sours were shaken and sipped without this accoutrement, including the sours found in the aforementioned first cocktail book. If you want something a little texturally richer, an egg white is a wonderful addition, but there’s nothing wrong with skipping it if you’re just looking for a refresher on a warm day.

Many folks will also argue that a sour should be served up in a coupe glass, but presentation is the last step in customizing your personal best whiskey sour. Serve it up or on the rocks, with or without egg white, and whatever garnish speaks to you. Go with your heart.


Makes 1

2 oz. whiskey (such as Buffalo Trace Bourbon)
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
¾ oz. simple syrup (1:1)
1 egg white (optional)
Orange slice and maraschino cherry (for serving)
  1. Add 2 oz. whiskey, ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice, and ¾ oz. simple syrup (1:1) to a cocktail shaker. If using 1 egg white, add to tin and seal. Shake without ice for 5 seconds to emulsify egg white. Add ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain with a Hawthorne strainer into a rocks glass with fresh ice or a coupe (no ice). Garnish with an orange slice and maraschino cherry.

    *Raw egg is not recommended for infants, the elderly, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems…or people who don’t like raw eggs.

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  • Great recipe (without the egg white). Surprisingly refreshing, not too heavy. I used Knob Creek.

    • Anonymous

    • Ellettsville IN

    • 8/30/2023

  • TastyPK

    • PK

    • CA

    • 11/4/2022

  • Very nice recipe

    • Taral

    • 10/17/2022

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