Whisky Sour: Sating Drinkers For Over One And A Half Century

There is a grand pendulum that swings back and forth in time. In the beginning, everything remains pretty simple but as time passes, people use what they can find, adding new ingredients and processes. More and more begin to work with this new trend and everyone starts adding their own twist. Some of them catch on while some of them are mercifully discarded. What happens is the original product starts to get more and more complex. The product becomes so complex that people start yearning for something simpler. 

Food and drinks are also not immune to this arc. There has been a movement back to the basic block when it comes to the cocktail. There is no denying the fact that there is something special about simple cocktails. Daiquiris, Margaritas, Gins, and Tonics are all starting to crawl their way back onto the menu of great cocktail establishments. Another cocktail that has started to see the light of day and is made with the simplest of ingredients is- Whisky Sour.  

Whisky sour is as simple as it can get and is still a cocktail. There is whisky, sugar, and lemon in this drink. With the sour category, it is believed to be the scaled-down version of the basic punch. It has the elements of “one sour, two sweet, three strong and four weak”. The base always has a dominant flavour while the sugar needs juice or water to get dissolved. The citrus element is to balance out the sweetness of the sugar. 

Hands down, whisky sour is one of the oldest types of cocktails known to have existed. This drink has been sating drinkers for over one and a half centuries. Though it is quite unclear the exact date of origination, its history dates back to the time of Lincoln’s administration. Its first printed recipe actually had appeared in circa 1862 by Jerry Thomas in the Bartenders Guide. 

Have you ever wondered why is it called whisky sour? As per some legends, traveling by sea was difficult in the 1800s and it was even harder to find clean and potable drinking water on long voyages. Thus, drinks like whisky, rum, and others were quite popular with the sailors. In the absence of clean water to drink and deficiency of vitamin C, many sailors would fall ill due to scurvy. This was when lemon came into the picture. The sailors started squeezing lemons and oranges into whisky and bourbon kept at room temperature to prevent scurvy. Then, there was no looking back. For several years, sailors enjoyed whisky sours and when it finally made it to the United States, we all know what happened.  

Traditionally, whisky sour was made with whisky, sugar, lemon, and egg white but the egg part has now become optional. Egg white was an ingredient responsible for the drink’s tart flavour and smoother texture. But egg whites are hardly used in the drink these days. But for those willing to have the authentic taste, must give it a try.  

                                         Image: New York Whisky Sour

We must agree that a few cocktails are sooo good!! And like many classic cocktails, whisky sour has evolved through several variations. From being red-wine topped New York sour to being added with juices and sweeteners, we have had many but the traditional classic remains the same. National Whisky Sour Day is here and to appreciate this drink, we have brought its quick recipe for you to make at home. 


  • 2 ounces of bourbon 
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juiced 
  • ½ ounce simple syrup 
  • ½ ounce egg white (optional) 


  • Take a shaker and add bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white (if you are using it). 
  • Dry shake them for 30 seconds without ice. 
  • Now add ice and shake until it gets chilled. 
  • Pour into a rock glass or a coupe. 
  • Your drink is ready. 

Bonus: Also see the recipe of the Jameson Sip Sour


  • 3 dashes angostura bitters 
  • 30 ml apple juice, fresh pressed 
  • 15 ml cinnamon syrup 
  • 30  ml coconut water 
  • 30 ml egg white 
  • Some ice cubes 
  • 10 ml Jameson Original 
  • 25 ml lemon juice


  • Fill a shaker with ice cubes and add all your ingredients. 
  • Shake and strain into a coupe glass.