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.

More variations: Make the whiskey sour with honey syrup and becomes a Gold Rush! Or make a whiskey sour with lime or an amaretto whiskey sour.

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! Go to Whiskey Sour with Egg White for more. When you make this drink with bourbon, 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 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 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.

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


  • 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.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) bourbon whiskey*
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce (1 ½ 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

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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52 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. Great whiskey sour. Goes great with my distillery bourbon and might be great with our Tennessee Whiskey “As smooth as Tennessee Whiskey”

    1. 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 :)

  3. 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.

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

  4. 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 :).

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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)

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

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Tried this recipe and it was delicious! I might tweak the amount of maple syrup just a tad, but I much prefer the maple syrup to simple syrup – great substitute!

  14. Love the Whiskey Sour recipe. I had no cherries so I go without. The only problem with this recipe is that it is so good, I am now out of Bourbon!

  15. Seriously the best whiskey sour recipe I’ve ever tried! The maple syrup is what makes it so amazing. It pairs well with the oak in the bourbon.

  16. I’ve made a drink I called a “whiskey sour” in the past, but it basically was just two parts lime juice to one part whiskey. I thought I would try the “official” version with lemon and simple syrup instead.

    About 30 years ago on military assignment, I frequented Vaquero’s (Cowboy’s) Bar in Comayagua, Honduras. The bartender always had a pitcher of lemonade for gin and lemonade. I liked it.

    As I was squeezing the lemon and making the simple syrup, it dawned on me. This is a “whiskey and lemonade”. I made it with Jameson Irish whiskey, and it was pretty good. I’m not sure if I like it better with lime juice and no added sweetener. I may have to make both at the same time and do a taste test.

  17. Wow!! Mind blown! Thank you so much for this recipe. I had to call my mom and my mother-in-law about this recipe. We are cooking the stock right now and I’ll make homemade Best Whiskey Sour Recipe to go with it. Way to go!

  18. Excellent and simple recipe. Ingenious with Vermont maple syrup! Had a somewhat pineapple aftertaste.

    I made an addition you might want to try. Added about 1 Tbsp of a very good apricot jam. Made drink “rounder” to the mouth, and flavors sequenced nicely.

    Ellzabeth’s Apricot Jam, Locally grown Blenheim apricots, Orchard Heritage Park, 560 East Remington Dr, Sunnyvale, CA, 94087. 408-891-1753. (I’m just a very satisfied customer)

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