Whiskey Sour. Photo by Lognetic | Fotolia.
August 25th is National Whiskey Sour Day. We’ll drink to that!
The Whiskey Sour is one of the most famous of the classic cocktails, one that survived Prohibition, which saw the fall into obscurity of many other classics of the time (Satan’s Whiskers, anyone). Those that survived include the Manhattan, Planter’s Punch, Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Tom Collins, etc).
The “sour” refers to lemon juice, which is added with sugar to create the drink. Whiskey is a generic term, referring to any spirit, or alcoholic distillate, made from a fermented mash of grain or malt and aged in barrels (the brown color comes from barrel aging).
Thus, requesting a “Whiskey Sour” enables the bartender to use any whiskey. If you want something specific, say so: a Bourbon Sour, Scotch Sour, etc.
There are numerous types of whiskey—American (Bourbon, corn, Tennessee, rye), Canadian, Irish, Scotch and others. Each is distinguished by the type of grain (barley, corn, rye) used in the fermentation process, as well as the distinct distillation and aging process. Each nation has its own rules and regulations about what constitutes a true whiskey. Regardless of the variety or country of origin, a general rule of thumb is that all straight whiskeys must be aged at least two years in wood, generally oak.
The whiskey sour recipe was first published in 1862 in the seminal mixologists’ guide, Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks (still in print!). However, most cocktail recipes, including the sour, existed long before this time—some dating as far back as the 1700s.
RECIPE: CLASSIC WHISKEY SOUR
Ingredients Per Drink
2 ounces Bourbon
.75 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
.75 ounce simple syrup
Garnish: Maraschino cherry
1. COMBINE bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously.
2. STRAIN into an ice-filled rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.