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This easy whiskey sour recipe is perfectly balanced and so easy to make! Garnish with an orange peel and a cocktail cherry.
Here at A Couple Cooks, we’re cocktail experts, with 300+ cocktail recipes in our library. 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. Our favorite way to make it is a spin with bourbon and maple syrup, and man, is it tasty! It’s become a family favorite recipe. Here’s the classic recipe and a few riffs and variations on this famous drink!
Whiskey sour ingredients
The whiskey sour is a sour cocktail made with whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup. It’s often served with an egg white foam, in which case it’s sometimes called a Boston Sour. The earliest mention of this classic cocktail was in the 1862 book The Bartender’s Guide: How To Mix Drinks by Jerry Thomas, so it’s been around for centuries.
The ingredients for making a whiskey sour are simple. It’s the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails, meaning it has an “official” definition. Here’s what you’ll need for this classic sour cocktail:
- 2 oz bourbon whiskey: as high quality as possible. (You can use any whiskey, but we prefer the flavor of bourbon.)
- 1 oz lemon juice
- ¾ to 1 oz simple syrup
- Orange or lemon peel and cocktail cherry, for garnish
Adjust the sweetness level in a whiskey sour to fit your tastes. A classic sour formula is 2:1:1, which means 2 oz spirit, 1 oz citrus and 1 oz sweetener. We prefer a whiskey sour with ¾ oz syrup, which lets the whiskey flavor shine. But if you prefer a sweeter cocktail, use up to 1 oz syrup.
A note on the sweetener
Here are A Couple Cooks, we typically use simple syrup as our cocktail sweetener of choice. But we’ve found a great alterative that adds a nuance to the flavor of a drink: maple syrup. It’s a natural sweetener that brings caramel flavor undertones to the whiskey sour.
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.
How to make a whiskey sour
The whiskey sour is a simple cocktail that’s straightforward to put together. Note that when you make this drink with bourbon, you can also call it a Bourbon Sour. Here are a few tips before you jump to the recipe below:
- Measure 2 ounces whiskey, 1 ounce lemon juice, and ¾ ounce simple syrup. We prefer bourbon in our whiskey sour, but you can make it with any type of whiskey.
- Shake all the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker until cold. Serve over lots of ice and enjoy! Try our clear ice if you want a stunning look.
- Add an egg white if desired. 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: go to Whiskey Sour with Egg White.
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 extremely % passionate about this sweet tart drink. When he’s entertaining, he’ll always ask: “Want 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 birthday, we created this whiskey sour recipe as an alternative to the store-bought mix he usually buys. Making it with fresh lemon juice, bourbon, and maple syrup makes for the very best whiskey sour recipe! Joe started serving it often, and it’s become a smash hit with cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles alike.
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 ¾ cup pure maple syrup. Or, make this Homemade Sweet and Sour Mix.
- To make a single drink, measure out 3 ½ tablespoons of the mix with 4 tablespoons whiskey. It’s that simple! For more, go to Whiskey Sour Mix.
Variations on the whiskey sour
The whiskey sour is so iconic, there are many variations on this drink! Here are a few notable variations:
- Wine: Make the popular New York Sour by floating red wine on top
- Honey: Try the Gold Rush, a whiskey sour made with honey syrup
- Lime or orange: Add lime for a Whiskey Sour with Lime or cranberry and orange juice for a Cranberry Orange Whiskey Sour
- Amaretto: Infuse it with the popular Italian liqueur for an Amaretto Whiskey Sour
- Egg white: Make a Whiskey Sour with Egg White, also known as a Boston Sour
- Scotch: Try the Penicillin, with Scotch and ginger honey syrup
- Rye whiskey and orange: Try the Ward 8 Cocktail, a riff on the whiskey sour with rye whiskey, orange and grenadine
This whiskey sour recipe is…
Vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free.Print
This easy whiskey sour recipe is perfectly balanced and so easy to make! Garnish with an orange peel and a cocktail cherry. If desired, add an egg white foam.
- 2 ounces* whiskey (bourbon preferred)
- 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 to 1 ounce** simple syrup (or pure maple syrup)
- Garnish: Orange peel and a cocktail cherry
- Ice, for serving
*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons.
**This drink is at its best with maple syrup, which adds subtle caramel notes to the flavor profile. Adjust the sweetness level in a whiskey sour to fit your tastes. A classic sour formula is 2:1:1, which means 2 oz spirit, 1 oz citrus and 1 oz sweetener. We prefer a whiskey sour with ¾ oz syrup, which lets the whiskey flavor shine. If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, use up to 1 oz syrup.
- Category: Drinks
- Method: Mixed
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: whiskey sour, whiskey sour recipe, how to make a whiskey sour, bourbon sour
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 or summer bourbon cocktails.