Best Whiskey Sour

This easy whiskey sour recipe is perfectly balanced and so easy to make! Garnish with an orange peel and a cocktail cherry.

Best whiskey sour

This is the cocktail that started it all. Here at A Couple Cooks, we’re cocktail obsessed. We have a myriad of cocktail recipes. But the first that got us hooked on great cocktails was this whiskey sour recipe! The whiskey sour is a perfectly sweet tart, balanced whiskey drink that actually dates back to the 1870’s. This recipe uses bourbon and maple syrup: and man, is it tasty! It’s become a family favorite recipe — you’ll see it often at our family parties. Here’s the recipe and how it came to be.

Whiskey sour ingredients

The whiskey sour (aka bourbon sour) is a classic cocktail that’s on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. This means it has an official definition. Our version stays true to the original definition, with a few tweaks. The ingredients for making a whiskey sour recipe are simple! Here’s what you’ll need for this classic sour cocktail:

  • Bourbon whiskey: as high quality as possible (you can use any whiskey, but we prefer the flavor of bourbon)
  • Lemon juice
  • Maple syrup or simple syrup
  • Garnish of orange peel and cocktail cherry

Alex and I like to use maple syrup to sweeten our cocktails. It’s a natural sweetener and brings a nuanced flavor to a drink that simple syrup does not. In back to back taste tests, maple syrup always wins! Plus, we always have it on hand in our refrigerator. If you prefer the pure, straightforward taste of simple syrup, you can use that too.

Another variation: Make the whiskey sour with honey syrup and becomes a Gold Rush!

Easy whiskey sour recipe

How to make a whiskey sour

Simply shake up the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, and you’re good to go! The measurements in the recipe below: in both ounces and tablespoons to make it easy for family cooking. Just shake all the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker until cold. You can also cheat and just stir them together until the syrup has dissolved. Serve over lots of ice and enjoy! Try our clear ice if you want a stunning look.

Whiskey sours are traditionally served with a slice or orange and a cocktail cherry. You can also add an egg white to get a frothy foam topping: that makes it a Boston Sour! When you make this drink with bourbon like we do, you can also call it a Bourbon Sour.

Whiskey sour

Why make this whiskey sour recipe

I wasn’t a whiskey sour fan until the drink was introduced to our family by Alex’s step-father, Joe. Joe is 1,000% passionate about this sweet tart drink. When he’s entertaining, he’ll always ask: “Want a a whiskey sour?” So of course over the years, this drink has become the standard for festive family get-togethers.

In honor of Joe’s 50th birthday, we created this an all natural whiskey sour recipe as an alternative to the store-bought mix he usually buys. This recipe uses maple syrup and fresh lemon juice, and truly makes for the very best whiskey sour recipe! Joe started serving it often, and it was a hit with cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncle alike. Now when our family gets together, you’ll see a big jug of maple syrup and a ton of lemons on the counter. Want to try out our family recipe?

Whiskey

Whiskey sour mix

Let’s say you’re looking for a whiskey sour mix, but you don’t want to get one of those store bought containers with lots of sugar. You can also use this recipe as a mix to make lots of drinks at once! Simply mix up a big batch of the maple and lemon juice.

Here’s how to make a whiskey sour mix for 8 drinks: Mix 1 cup lemon juice plus 3/4 cup pure maple syrup. Or, make this Homemade Sweet and Sour Mix. To make a single drink, measure out 3 1/2 tablespoons of the mix with 4 tablespoons whiskey. It’s that simple!

Whiskey sour recipe

Looking for more easy cocktail recipes?

Outside of this whiskey sour recipe, here are a few of our favorite cocktail recipes:

  • Classic Margarita The very best classic margarita: lime, tequila and Cointreau. Perfection! And here are 10+ more ways to make a margarita.
  • Best Gin and Tonic Here are the keys to the very best gin and tonic, the most refreshing 2-ingredient cocktail! A few secrets take this crisp, botanical drink over the top.
  • Tom Collins Cocktail This popular sweet sour cocktail is light and bubbly! Don’t forget the cherry.
  • Prosecco Mimosa Here’s the best mimosa recipe! This one’s made with Italian Prosecco, orange juice, and a dash of Cointreau for the perfect bubbly tart flavor.
  • Classic Old Fashioned The oldest cocktail there is! The classic method uses a sugar cube, bitters, and bourbon whiskey for a truly timeless drink. Or browse all our best bourbon cocktails.

This whiskey sour recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free.

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Whiskey sour

Best Whiskey Sour Recipe (Family Favorite)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (192 votes, average: 4.14 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x

Description

This easy whiskey sour recipe is perfectly balanced and so easy to make! Garnish with an orange peel and a cocktail cherry.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) bourbon whiskey*
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce (1 1/2 tablespoons) pure maple syrup (or simple syrup)
  • Garnish: Orange peel and a cocktail cherry
  • Ice, for serving

Instructions

  1. Add the bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, and syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill with a handful of ice and shake until very cold.
  2. Strain the drink into a lowball or Old Fashioned glass. Serve with ice, an orange peel and a cocktail cherry. 

Notes

*You can use any variety of whiskey, but we prefer it with the sweeter flavor of bourbon. 

  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Mixed
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: whiskey sour, whiskey sour recipe, how to make a whiskey sour, bourbon sour

Looking for other drink recipes?

And a few more popular drink recipes over here:

Last updated: April 2020

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

41 Comments

  • Reply
    Kathryn
    June 7, 2012 at 4:55 am

    Wow, that first shot is stunning! Really stopped me in my tracks (and made me crave a whiskey sour…)

    Love the natural ingredients in this.

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 7, 2012 at 8:06 am

      Thanks! I figured there had to be some way they made whiskey sours before HFCS was invented…

  • Reply
    Melissa // thefauxmartha
    June 7, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Oh my beautiful! Awesome shot!

  • Reply
    Erin
    June 7, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Definitely your best photo of all time :) I think Ben might even need a print of that one for his office…

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 7, 2012 at 8:07 am

      Haha! Thanks. I think winkflash is having a canvas sale this week… :)

  • Reply
    Joe
    June 7, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Alex, oh Alex.

    How long have you know me? I had hair then, so it’s been a while. I hate to publically correct you, but son, you have NEVER been more wrong.

    Have you seen my glass? THIS WILL ONLY MAKE 1 drink–NOT 2!!

    I can’t wait to taste the Alex/Sonja version of my favorite drink. You better double the recipe if I have to share. Thank you!

    Joe ” regarding Marilyn, once a H%+, always a H%+” the evil stepfather.

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 7, 2012 at 10:23 am

      Haha! I was worried that if I made the portions Joe-sized, the readers would start acting like you…

      p.s. Tastes best with Preble Twp’s own Rekeweg Honey.

  • Reply
    Kris Mullen @munchin with munchkin
    June 7, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Incredible shot! This recipe reminds me of a cold hot toddy. I love that you used natural ingredients to sweeten it!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      June 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      Thank you! And, I love the thought of a cold hot toddy – haha! If that’s not already a drink, someone should bring that back :)

  • Reply
    Devon
    June 7, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Love that you used honey to sweeten the whiskey sour! Great idea :)

  • Reply
    Cousin Dan
    June 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Holy cow…that photo is amazing. Looks like it is right out of a magazine add! Way to go. Drink looks tasty, too. Think I might have to pick up some honey on the way home.

    • Reply
      Aunt Wendy
      June 8, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      What an amazing photo!! You two are simply awesome :) Joe may need some more honey and less whiskey though…….

  • Reply
    Farmer's City Wife
    June 7, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I’m not much of a whiskey fan (except with Coke) but had to see the recipe just to get a closer look at the picture. It’s awesome!
    I think I’ll be plunking glasses of lemonade on our table to get a similar shot :).

  • Reply
    RussianMomCooks
    June 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    The shot is stunning! Almost want to try whiskey! Meaah…

  • Reply
    Julia
    June 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    What an amazing picture!!!!! And I love this updated classic recipe!

  • Reply
    Julia {The Roasted Root}
    June 7, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Whisky sour has always been one of my favorite drinks! Love that your version is zesty and naturally sweetened. Great flavor and your pictures are gorgeous!

  • Reply
    Alexandra
    June 7, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Um, to repeat: Amazing photo! I agree with Joe even though I’ve never seen his glass!

    Yay for me having everything I need for one of these in my kitchen and at 5:30 I’m going to concoct one! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Chez Us
    June 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Great photo! We, too, love a good whiskey sour and nothing compares to making your own sour mix. We started making it last year, after a friend reintroduced us to the drink. Will never go back. Cheers!

  • Reply
    Krissy's Creations
    June 7, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    What a wonderful photo! You should sell it! I know I definitely would like that up on my wall :)

    • Reply
      Sonja
      June 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      Haha, well now you’ve got us thinking! We’ll let you know :)

  • Reply
    TastefullyJulie
    June 7, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    I was JUST thinking on my way to work today (don’t ask) that I would like to try a whiskey sour that isn’t made with nasty sour mix from a bottle. Yum. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Jennifer (Delicieux)
    June 7, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    That first image is amazing!!! I also love your update to this classic recipe. My fiance is a huge fan of whiskey sours, so I will have to try your updated version on him.

  • Reply
    Shawn @ I Wash...You Dry
    June 7, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    I’m not a drinker, but that first picture is sure amazing! I saw it on FoodGawker, and had to come check it out! Very nice!

  • Reply
    milena
    June 8, 2012 at 8:01 am

    That is a damn good shot!

  • Reply
    Tammy D
    June 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    You want to talk pretty drinks with a hint of nature, check this out: http://blondegourmand.com/lavender-vodka-tonic/#

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 10, 2012 at 6:33 pm

      Looks awesome, and I have some lavender blooming in the garden right now!

  • Reply
    Rosabel
    June 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Wow! First of, I LOVE the pictures! I also like the idea of using honey to sweeten the cocktail. Another option (all natural and tasty) would be to use Organic Maple Syrup (which I ofter use as a sweetener: it is healthier and gives a delicious taste to recipes). (I not it is hard to find but I get mine online with Rouge Maple)

    • Reply
      Sonja
      June 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks! Sounds like a great idea – I’ve never thought of adding maple syrup. Thanks for the idea!

  • Reply
    Annie
    June 11, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    I reeeeallly love these photos. Awesome job.

  • Reply
    Miranda @ Biting Life
    June 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Wow, that photo is AMAZING! One of the best blog photos I’ve ever seen (probably THE best!).

    • Reply
      Sonja
      June 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      Wow, thank you! Makes all those times of dropping the ice cube worth it :)

  • Reply
    laura
    June 17, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Just repeating everyone else, but WOW what amazing photos!

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 17, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      Haha, thank you! And thanks everyone else!

  • Reply
    Racheal
    November 5, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    SO,I doubt you’ve heard this before but, “how ’bout that shot’?? Sweet.!Made the recipe, I prefer shaken to stirred but makes difficult with ice…drinking anyhow!

  • Reply
    Beth
    April 3, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    Delicious and easy recipe! Thanks! Enjoying one (okay, maybe 2) while making dinner for the fam on a cold night in Minneapolis. Hope all are well in Indiana!

  • Reply
    KT
    April 12, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    Have made this 4 times in the last week, my husband enjoyed it so much he went out and bought a dozen lemons so that we don’t run out :) thank you for a simple and delicious cocktail! We are excited to try the New York Sour next!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    May 8, 2020 at 8:21 pm

    OMG I’m drinking my dinner tonight. Sooo yummy.

  • Reply
    Jessica Brantner
    August 20, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Omg! This truly is the easiest, most wonderful sour I’ve enjoyed. Hands down, the maple syrup beats simple syrup by far and IS ON HAND. I love a whiskey sour, but do not want to stand around making simple syrup and don’t drink often enough to batch make it.
    I used half lemon juice and half key lime. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      August 20, 2020 at 9:17 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    Dr. Ted
    September 5, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    Someone on my favorite TV show always drinks whiskey sours (I know, I’m impressionable…) so when I was at a bar a few months back I tried one and it was awful. I guess it was made with sweet and sour mix or something. Well that, plus I don’t like mixed drinks ~ I’m a straight bourbon guy, period. But I found your recipe and decided to give it a try this afternoon, and wow! This is one cocktail I’m going to be drinking when Saturday afternoon rolls around. I’ve already shared this blog with our daughter who actually DOES like cocktails.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      September 7, 2020 at 10:53 am

      Haha! So glad you loved it :)

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