Whiskey Sour

May 15, 2013 (Day 7) – Whiskey Sour

We were so pleased with last night’s cocktail from the Professor that we decided to crack open his tome once more to have a gander at some other whiskey cocktails.

Many cocktail books of days gone by – and hell, for that matter, days gone now – it don’t usually specify WHAT kind of whiskey, gin, etc. to use in their cocktails. This often leaves things up for interpretation, especially when you consider that different kinds of whiskey and gin can have profound effects on the taste of the cocktail later.

One more reason to admire Jerry Thomas – he specifies in each of his recipes what KIND of each spirit to use.

His recipe for one of the ultimate classics – the Whiskey Sour – asks that you use either a bourbon or a rye. Obviously the bourbon version is going to be sweeter and the rye is going to be spicier. We’re in the mood for something a bit sweeter tonight after using a pleasantly spicy rye for some other cocktails in recent days.

Once again, this is the Whiskey Sour as it seems in the 1862 copy of The Bartender’s Guide by Professor Thomas.

Whiskey Sour

  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • Dash club soda
  • Juice from half a small lemon
  • 1 wine glass of bourbon (roughly 4 oz)

Take 1 large tea-spoonful of powdered white sugar, dissolved in a little Seltzer or Apollinaris water. Fill a bar glass full of shaved ice, shake up and strain into a claret glass. Ornament with berries.


Much like the Whiskey Cocktail yesterday, this drink is deceptively simple, and yet the ingredients coalesce into flavors beyond themselves. If you use a high-enough quality bourbon, you may even be able to get your non-whiskey drinker friends to at least sample this, as the whiskey flavor is secondary or even tertiary to the overall taste of the cocktail itself.


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