How To Make Whiskey Sours (Plus 2 Variations Every Gentleman Should Try)

While thousands of cocktails have been created over the past two centuries, only a few have stood up to the test of time. The whiskey sour is one of them—a classic and timeless cocktail that’s been passed down generations of men. A well-made whiskey sour is considered a sophisticated drink choice, making it an ideal cocktail for the modern gentleman.

Also, unlike many cocktails, a whiskey sour has—as the name implies—a sour taste. So if you can’t stand sugary drinks but aren’t up for straight liquor either, this is a great alternative. In this article, we will share two popular whiskey sour recipes that you can enjoy today. Plus a few interesting facts about whiskey sours.

Have no time to read the whole post: Watch our short video tutorial

Origin of the whiskey sour

The first mention of a whiskey sour recipe was in Jerry Thomas’ The Bartender’s Guide in 1862—the first-ever published bartending guide. But whiskey sours have been around for much longer.

In fact, more than a hundred years before that, sailors found a way to fight off scurvy and seasickness during their long journeys by making sours ( a mix of liquor, water, and citrus). Over the decades the drink gained enough popularity onshore to be included in the Bartender Guide.

Since then, whiskey sour has become a much-loved cocktail in the United States and Canada. So popular that each year on August 25, people across the United States observe National Whiskey Sour Day. 

Whiskey Sour Day

 Main ingredients of a whiskey sour 

One of the reasons this drink has been popular for so long since it requires only four ingredients: whiskey, lemon, egg white, and simple syrup. 


Most people prefer bourbon, though a good rye whiskey and Canadian blended whiskeys make an excellent sour as well. You can substitute different types of whiskey to achieve unique flavor profiles.

As you switch from one whiskey to another, you may need to adjust the ratios of the simple syrup and lemon juice. Below are some whiskey brands we highly recommend for making whiskey sours.

  1. Buffalo Trace
  2. Crown Royal
  3. Bulleit Bourbon

Fresh lemon juice.

Ensure you use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor. In most instances, bottled lemon juice will be either too sweet or too tart and this will significantly affect the quality of your drink. As you might already know, citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges are the most often used fruits in cocktails.

​Simple syrup

This is sugar dissolved in water. Some people use maple syrup or powdered white sugar but the simple syrup is the most commonly used.

Egg whites

Egg whites won’t change the flavor of the drink but will give it a luxurious foamy texture. Ensure you use fresh eggs. If you don’t like raw eggs, you can use pasteurized egg whites (about 2 tbsp).

Simple whiskey sour recipe


  • 2 ounces ​whiskey
  • 3/4 ounces ​lemon juice (fresh)
  • 3/4 ounce ​simple syrup
  • 1 egg white 

 How to make a whiskey sour

  1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Dry shake vigorously
  3. Add ice cubes
  4. Shake for at least 30 seconds to ensure all the ingredients mix properly
  5. Strain into an old fashioned glass with ice cubes
  6. Garnish with a slice of orange or lemon wedge.

This is not the only way to make a whiskey sour. But it offers a great starting point. Make it, give it a taste, then adjust on your next drink as needed.

Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the best ratio for you. A great whiskey sour is all about finding a balance between the ingredients.

Popular variations of the whiskey sour

There are a variety of adjustments you can make to ensure the whiskey sour suits your taste buds perfectly. Below are two of the most popular whiskey sour variations.

Frisco Sour-Similar to a whiskey sour with the addition of Benedictine and lime juice. Experiment with the ratios to find balance. Too much lime/lemon juice and it will become too tart.

New York Sour -Gently pour a little fruity red wine over the back of a spoon held just above the drink's surface so wine floats on top of the already mixed whiskey sour.

Final thoughts

There you go! Impress your friends with these simple whiskey sour recipes and interesting facts.

It’s such a simple yet delicious cocktail that every gentleman should try.

In case you were wondering, to make a larger quantity just double or triple the ratios of the ingredients. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Cheers!

 Next: Everything You Need to Know About Manhattan Cocktails


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