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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.

Best whiskey sour

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.

Easy whiskey sour recipe

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.
  • Optional: add an egg white if desired. Whiskey sours are traditionally served with a slice or orange and a cocktail cherry. If desired, you can add an egg white to the cocktail shaker to get a frothy foam topping: go to Whiskey Sour with Egg White.
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 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

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

Variations on the whiskey sour

The whiskey sour is so iconic, there are many variations on this drink! Here are a few notable variations:

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. If desired, add an egg white foam.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

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

*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:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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65 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)

  19. This drink is becoming so popular in Spain! Never heard of it before and now more and more places do it. Can’t wait to try, thanks for the recipe!

  20. This is totally amazing ,I never seen this kind of before any other website so thankful to a couple cooks.

  21. This is my go to whiskey sour recipe! I’ve tried it with a few different bourbon brands and it’s always is delicious. Started buying maple syrup in bulk 🍁

  22. Sa your AWESOME COCKTAIL recipes and they are just that, awesome..Had a birthday recently and had ppl over, big 60, n I wanted to use my new cocktail set I got, along with 4 bottles of bourbon, Barrell Bourbon 32, Barrell Bourbon Vantage, Barrell Bourbon Amidia and my go to Elijah Craig 1792 and we started with sipping and then I said wait let’s try some cocktails from this site, so we did the usual, my go to, The Old Fadhion, love yours but I did a twist to it, I mulled 2 cocktail cherries into your recipe and did a double strain for each and well, 5 stars my guest said, so after 2 or 3 of those I said let’s do one of the old time faves, whiskey sour, and for this I used Elijah Craig, it just seemed better since Barrell is higher in proof. So I pulled up your recipes and started with the normal, then I got a little twisty, 1 I did with the basic but plain simple syrup then twist #1 I did fresh mint mulled then shaken, LOVED IT they did. So 2 or 3 each later we did another twist, did the honey recipe but, and I hope you all don’t laugh, I did black raspberries mulled…yup I did. So after this one, everyone said DAM….I will say this wow. The flavors…this site and the recipes you have are awesome and i love adding twist to drinks, and so do my freinds…so thanks for the recipes and I will for sure use them. I have a lot of Eagle Rare and Barrell Bourbon 34 and 33 to use…thank you..

    1. Good question! The mix keeps 1 week in the refrigerator — the flavor is best in first 24 hours, but it’s still good at a week.

  23. Don’t know how you 2 have done this ? But there must be some Very Special Chemistry going on ! 🫨
    Way to go ! 😎

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