The Whiskey Sour

 

The Whiskey Sour

The whiskey sour a great cocktail? Now a days most people automatically think of those terrible hangovers they got from drinking well whiskey sours at their local dive bar all night during college.  Believe it or not, the sour is one of the original cocktails and appears in print as early as 1862 in Jerry Thomas’s famed A Bartenders Guide.  It is believed the sour evolved from the practice of adding lime juice to rum in order to prevent scurvy among British sailors. The sailors gradually found out that adding sugar to the beverage made a delectable and tasty libation.  As the sailors were introduced to new forms of liquor they carried on the process of adding sugar and citrus to make a more palatable beverage, and along came the whiskey sour.  During prohibition the focus on quality cocktails was lost and mass-produced commercial mixes replaced house made ingredients.   The poor quality bathtub booze of prohibition changed the market, drinks were made sweeter and sweeter too cover up the poor taste of the low quality alcohol.  These sugary concoctions became the standard and Jerry Thomas saw his beloved whiskey sour replaced with the mix of bad whiskey and commercial sour mix served at bars around the world.

Virtually any liquor can be turned into a sour, 3 parts spirit, 1 part fresh citrus and 1 part sweetener, most commonly a sugar syrup.   Cocktail historian and master bartender Gary Regan refers to a sub-classification of sours known as New Orleans Sour which are sweetened with an orange liqueur(Sidecar, Margarita,  Cosom…)  The whiskey sour is most commonly garnished with a orange wheel and a luxardo cherry, although Jerry Thomas calls for fresh seasonal berries.  Well start with the original Jerry Thomas rescipe for a whiskey sour.

Here is the recipe from that iconic book, The Art of Bartending:

Whiskey Sour:
(Use small bar-glass.)
Take 1 large tea-spoonful of powdered white sugar,
dissolved in a little Seltzer or Apollinaris water.
The juice of half a small lemon.
1 wine-glass of Bourbon or rye whiskey.
Fill the glass full of shaved ice, shake up and strain into a claret glass. Ornament with berries.

A common ingredient in early sours that is left out of Jerry Thomas’s recipe is the white of an egg.  The egg white does not change the taste of the drink, but rather the texture.  It gives the drink a foam on the top and gives the cocktail itself a thicker more velvety mouth feel. The eggs of today are much larger then the eggs used by bartenders in the days of Jerry Thomas, therefore you only want to use a large quarter size dollop of the gooey part that has separated from the yolk. When you use egg white you have to make sure dry shake or shake with all the ingredients other then the ice.  The egg white will not meringue correctly unless it is at room temperature. (A trick I learned to help produce the best meringue on egg white cocktails is to remove the spring from the Hawthorne strainer and place it in the shaker) After the dry shake add ice and shake and double strain into a cocktail glass.

Whiskey Sour Recipe 2

2 oz bourbon

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

Egg white

Dry Shake

Add Ice and Shake

Double strain into cocktail glass

The New York Sour is a classic variation of the whiskey sour.  Cocktail historian David Wondrich details  the rich history of the drink in his book, Imbibe! .   The drink first appeared in the 1880’s and was known as a Continental Sour and later appeared as a Southern Whiskey Sour, by the early 1900’s the drink had firmly become known as a New York Sour.  The drink itself is just a classic egg white whiskey sour with a  ‘claret’ wine float.  Claret was a term used in by the British upper class and also by Americans to refer to a dry, dark red Bordeaux.  Now it is much more practical just to use a dry cabernet sauvignon.

New York Sour

2 oz bourbon

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

Egg white

Dry Shake

Add Ice and Shake

Double strain into cocktail glass

Float .75 oz of cabernet sauvignon

Enojy!

 

Comments

  1. What’s up, just wanted to mention, I loved this post. It was helpful. Keep on posting!

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