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Whisky Sour - the forefather of all sour cocktails

by Honest & Rare Editorial Team
Whisky Sour - der Ur-Vater aller Sour Cocktails

The most important facts summarized for you:

  • Whisky Sour is a cocktail made from whisky, lemon juice and sugar syrup
  • The sweet and sour drink was invented in California during the gold rush era
  • Whisky Sour is best prepared with bourbon

What is whisky sour?

Whisky sour is a classic - the forefather of all sours. It is a drink from the twilight of the gods of American cocktail mixing. Varied a thousand times and found to be good. Proof that the simple things are the best.

Whisky Sour ist ein Cocktail aus Whisky und Zitronensaft
Whisky Sour is a cocktail made from whisky and lemon juice

How did Whisky Sour come about?

Jerry Thomas was one of the tough guys who mined for gold in California. But he didn't drink his nuggets away. He invested them in a bar. Nevertheless, Thomas always remained a gold digger - in search of the best cocktails in the world.

He published his findings in a cocktail book in 1862. And it contains the original sour, at that time based on brandy. Not much later came the update with whisky. And a star was born. Whisky Sour took off. And it has remained there to this day.

Whisky Sour wurde erstmals zur Zeit der Goldgräber getrunken. Vermutlich in einem Lokal wie diesem hier, das in der verlassenen US-Goldgräber-Stadt Bodie steht.
Whisky Sour was first drunk in the days of the gold diggers. Presumably in a pub like this one, which is located in the abandoned US gold mining town of Bodie.

Whisky sour? - Anyone can do that - said laymen. Well, give it a try. And don't make such long faces if the stuff doesn't taste like your favorite bar.

Why is that? Mixing a really good whisky sour is not as easy as it sounds.

You need to follow a few basic rules when preparing it:.

  • Firstly, no frills.
  • Secondly, good whisky.
  • Third: The perfect balance between sour and sweet.

And that can be tricky as hell.

Whisky sour recipe

The whisky sour is so classic that there is an official recipe for it from the International Bartenders Association (IBA).

Whisky Sour - das Rezept
Whisky Sour - the recipe


  • 4.5 cl bourbon whisky
  • 3 cl lemon juice (freshly squeezed!)
  • 1.5 cl sugar syrup
  • 1 egg white (optional, because it's a matter of taste)

There are also recipes that increase the proportion of whisky and syrup. But first get to know the basic recipe. It's like riding a bike. You have to keep your balance, then you can ride hands-free.


  1. Get a tumbler ready with a thick lump of ice in it (you can also use smaller ice cubes, but they melt faster).
  2. You need a shaker with lots of ice in it. Shake all the ingredients vigorously.
  3. When the shaker feels really cold, pour the mixture into your tumbler.
  4. The whisky sour is also spartan when it comes to garnish. A lemon zest is enough.

Buy good whisky:

Whisky sour with egg white: is it necessary?

You don't necessarily have to use egg white for a whisky sour.
A whisky sour is also good (some say better) without egg white. There are a lot of people who get a stomach ache at the idea of pouring raw egg white into a drink. Others are not afraid of bacteria, but hate the smell of egg whites. Fresh, organic eggs help to combat the fear of bacteria. A squeeze of lemon zest will help with the musty smell.

What are the benefits of the egg white in the whisky sour? Firstly, it creates a nice head of foam. There have been people who have mistaken a whisky sour for a slightly stale beer. Secondly, it gives the drink a fuller consistency.

Wer eine anständige Schaumkrone auf seinem Whisky Sour will, sollte dringend Eiweiß verwenden. Es gibt aber auch vegane Alternativen.
If you want a decent head on your whisky sour, you should definitely use egg white. But there are also vegan alternatives.

As I said, you can do without. If you still don't want to do without the foamy top, you can also use egg white or algae powder. Your vegan whisky sour is ready!

Whisky sour: a look at the ingredients

Whisky sour is a simple three-way mix: whisky, sugar syrup and lemon juice. There are also two optional extras: egg white and garnish. Let's start with the garnish.

Which garnish for your whisky sour?

That's easy to say: a lemon zest. If you like color, add a maraschino cherry. Or a cocktail cherry. Some say: a slice of orange.

Auch mit Orangen(-saft) schmeckt der Whisky Sour hervorragend
The Whisky Sour also tastes great with orange (juice)

Which lemon juice for your whisky sour?

The best way to make whisky sour is to use freshly squeezed lemon juice from fresh lemons.

Bottled lemon juice will also do in a pinch. However, you should never use lemon concentrate from the yellow plastic bottle. As it contains mainly artificial ingredients, the concentrate will significantly change the taste of your cocktail.

Which sugar syrup for your whisky sour?

You can either use conventional cane sugar syrup. Or you can mix the mixture yourself. Simply add two parts sugar to one part water - also known as 'simple syrup'.

Den Whisky Sour bereitest du am besten mit Bourbon zuThe whisky sour is best prepared with bourbon

Which whisky for your whisky sour?

Finally, a cocktail that you don't have to discuss for long. At most about the egg white. But definitely not about the whisky. One thing is for sure: extreme thrifty people will never drink a good whisky sour.

Bourbon whisky is the best choice for a whisky sour. Recommended by the International Bartenders Association! Even if they spell their whiskey with the Irish/American additional e spelling. The corn-based bourbon distillate has a soft basic character, mild and unobtrusive. The perfect carrier for the aromatic balancing act.

However, this carrier must be of good growth. A thin fellow from the discount store lets all the ingredients sink in and collapses under this task. A good handmade bourbon makes your whisky sour an absolutely well-rounded affair - beginner's gel guarantee!

Need a little more edge? Get it in your glass with a selected rye whisky. The rye contributes spicy, distinctive aromas, but still has that typical underlying sweetness that balances out the lemon juice. A rye whisky sour is a successful cocktail tune-up with a bourbon upgrade: powerful and a little wilder in the finish.

Wer es etwas wilder mag, kann auch auf Rye Whisky zurückgreifen
If you like it a little wilder, you can also opt for rye whisky

Alternatives to the whisky sour

Looking for a suitable alternative to the Whisky Sour? Here are a few more cocktail recipes for you:

Buy whisky for whisky sours

Now all you need is a store with whiskies that will carry your whisky sour on a silver platter from the first to the last sip. You don't have to look far. You're already in the right marketplace! To the whisky range

Not in the mood for a whisky sour? Maybe you'll find the right recipe for you on our recipes page!


About the autor:

Honest & Rare Editorial Team

Honest & Rare Editorial Team


Some things can only be accomplished as a team. Just like this article here! That's why we mark all jointly created articles as editorial contributions. Cheers!

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