Classic Cocktails: The Whiskey Sour

Today we take a look at another classic:

The Whiskey Sour

A whiskey sour

Yes, the little plastic sword really does make it taste better.

As with many other drinks originating prior to Prohibition, the true origin of the whiskey sour is in dispute.  One story claims it was invented in Peru by an Englishman named Eliot Stubb, sometime during or after 1872.  This is cast into doubt; however, by a mention of the drink in a Wisconsin newspaper published in 1870.  It’s not clear if the whiskey sour mentioned in the American newspaper is the same as the one that has become famous around the world.

I don’t know which story is true…  I just know the drink is delicious (especially on a hot day).

  • 1.5 oz whiskey (I prefer bourbon)
  • 1 oz lemon juice (I prefer freshly squeezed)
  • 1/2 oz gomme syrup*

Combine whiskey, lemon juice, and syrup and shake vigorously with ice (I keep going until my metal cocktail shaker is too cold to continue holding in my hands).  Strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass that has been rimmed with sugar and filled with ice.  Garnish with half a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry.

Salud!

* Gomme syrup is made from sugar, water, and gum arabic.  As most of us don’t stock our home bars with this, simple syrup can be used instead.  Gomme syrup will emulsify the drink a great deal more, but the sour is still quite drinkable without it.

To make simple syrup, I use a ratio of 2 parts sugar to 1 part water.  Just heat them together, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved, then allow the syrup to cool.  Be very careful not to allow the sugar to burn or caramelize.  I make small batches as I don’t use it that often and it can quickly become a breeding ground for nasty bugs if left unchecked.

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