Skip to content

The Whisky Sour Cocktail

The Whisky Sour (or Whiskey Sour)

To make a great sour, we need the right tools. We also of course need a tasty whisky to start with. Great ingredients make for a fantastic cocktail. Preparation method must also be perfected to really make this drink pop. Something we teach our students is ‘Good fresh ingredients can mask an un-stellar spirit. An amazing spirit will be crushed by inadequate juices’.

Whiskies Can Be Spelled Differently

Whiskey or Whisky? In Canada, and most of the rest of the world we spell whisky without an ‘e’ before the ‘y’. Depending on if your roots lie in Ireland or America, you might be inclined to include an ‘e’ in your spelling of this aged spirit. Going back to early Gaelic times, a split between the Scots and Irish resulted in language variations. The Irish continued with that ‘e’ in their spelling of the word in religious texts and those Irish brought ‘whiskey making’ to the USA. Look around the rest of the world and you will find Scottish, Japanese, Canadian and even Indian whisky all spelled without the ‘e’.

Of course you can still find a few distillers that deviate from these rules… We’re looking at you Maker’s Mark.

The Whisky Sour Cocktail Ingredients

  • 2 ripe lemons
  • 0.5 oz Simple Syrup (or maple syrup)
  • Cubed ice, preferably made with purified water
  • 2 oz of semi-premium rye whiskey
  • One raw organic egg
  • Angostura Bitters (try some maple bitters or something more Canadian like Douglas Fir bitters)
  • Lemon slice, optional


Typically you’ll get about 1.5 oz of lemon from a single lemon. This of course will vary depending on the size and hydration level of the lemons available. As for a spirit, we like to use a Rye… 100% Rye such as Alberta Premium or Lot 40. In a pinch, Canadian Club will do just fine… and save you a few dollars in the process. The Rye already has some inherent sweetness to it, but for many… never enough. Simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) is liquid sugar to add to a drink. Maple syrup does a fantastic job of replacing the simple syrup, and complements the Rye quite nicely.

Bar tools needed:

  • Mixing Glass
  • Shaker Tin
  • Hawthorne Strainer
  • Citrus Squeezer (for lemon squeezing)
  • A short glass, or classic coupe

How to Make and Serve as a Cocktail

We need to break the preparation of this cocktail into two parts. A sour takes time and attention to do it properly.

Part #1 – Mix your strong, sweet and sour elements

  1. Fill the mixing glass 3/4 full with cubed ice
  2. Squeeze your 2 lemons, to create about 3 oz of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  3. To the mixing glass, add 2 oz of a semi-premium rye whisky
  4. Sweeten with 0.5 oz of simple syrup (try using a maple syrup instead)
  5. Add your shaker tin, and shake vigorously to chill the spirit, citrus and sugar
  6. Remove the mixing glass and strain contents from the tin back into the mixing glass

Part #2 – Create the froth and make it pretty

  1. Separate the white from your egg, and drop the white into your chilled sweet citrus-spirit mix
  2. Add your shaker tin and shake like ‘it owes you money!’
  3. Strain the frothy contents into a short glass, or coupe
  4. Top with bitters
  5. Garnish with Lemon

We shake these ingredients at the start to chill the contents. Strain out the ice, then add the egg white to finish this cocktail with a ‘dry shake’. Many recipes will call for first a ‘dry shake’ to mix the egg white with the sweetened citrus-spirit mix, but we find the ice during that second ‘wet shake’ results in a less impressive egg white foam. Finishing with a dry shake still results in full mixing of the egg white, but no ice gives the sour a beautiful meringue topper to which we can add the bitters. We have all had a lemon meringue pie before. Imagine that pie, crustless, and with some whiskey mixed in with that lemony filling.

Strain into a short glass with no ice, that way the ice doesn’t continue to dilute the drink. As for bitters, Angostura bitters are the most well known and classic. It is hard to argue with tradition. If you are playing around with different types of bitters, a maple bitters or Douglas Fir bitters makes a fantastic addition to the cocktail.

How about a Vegan Whisky Sour?

If you wanted to get a bit experimental, you can always look for vegan egg-white alternatives. Aquafaba is a common substitute.

Mask any essence of bean left over from the chickpea water with the lemon and a very aromatic bitters. Maybe this is where that Douglas Fir bitters would come in handy, to cover up any unfavourable odours.

If you want to learn more about cocktail making, check out all our upcoming course dates!

Cart 0

Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping