Whiskey Sour Recipe

4 from 2 votes
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The Whiskey Sour has been an all-time favorite of mine for a while. It’s citrusy, slightly sweet, and boozy all at once. While common bartending shortcuts have given the cocktail a bad wrap, the drink is fantastic when classically made with fresh ingredients.

A close up of a frothy whiskey sour garnished with a brandied cherry and orange wedge.

I know I’m not the only one to fall victim to a sickly sweet rendition of this classic cocktail made with sour mix. An authentic Whiskey Sour made with good bourbon, fresh citrus, balanced sweetness, and a frothy twist will leave you craving sip after sip.

Brief History

The Whiskey Sour made its debut in 1862, within the pages of Jerry Thomas’ influential cocktail book, “How to Mix Drinks.” The recipe consisted of bourbon, fresh lemon juice, and simple sugar. Initially, it did not include egg whites. However, over time, the addition of egg whites became popular, leading to variations like the Boston Sour, New York Sour, and Gold Rush cocktail.

For this blog post, we’ll focus on the version with egg white, as it offers an undeniable frothy texture and adds so much character to the cocktail.

Looking for more delicious classic whiskey cocktails? Try the Sazerac, Improved Whiskey Cocktail, Old Fashioned cocktail, and Brown Derby cocktail!

Ingredients

Whiskey sour ingredients laid out on a butcher block table.
  • Bourbon: I like Elijah Craig or Larceny for this cocktail.
  • Fresh lemon juice: always use fresh over concentrate. If you don’t have fresh lemons, I prefer ReaLemon juice.
  • Simple syrup: a 50-50 blend of dissolved sugar and water.
  • Egg white or pasteurized liquid egg whites: fresh eggs work best but pasteurized liquid egg whites work if you’re concerned with consuming raw eggs.
  • Luxardo cherry and orange wedge for garnish

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.

How to Make a Whiskey Sour

Step 1.

Begin with a “dry shake”: in a Boston shaker, combine bourbon, lemon, egg white, and sugar without ice and vigorously shake for 30 seconds. This dry shake helps break down the proteins in the egg white, resulting in a creamier and smoother texture. It prevents dilution that may occur if ice is added right away.

Step 2.

Shake with ice: after the dry shake, add a cup of ice to the shaker and shake vigorously for an additional 20 seconds. This is the chilling process.

Adding ice to a glass cocktail shaker with Whiskey Sour ingredients.

Step 3.

Strain and serve: double strain the mixture into a double old-fashioned glass over fresh ice or serve it straight up in a coupe glass. The egg white will create a beautiful foam crown on the surface, enhancing the visual appeal and texture of your cocktail. Garnish with an orange wedge and cherry.

Expert Tips

  • Chill your glasses in the freezer. A cold glass prevents warming and keeps your drink colder for longer.
  • Shaking with larger ice cubes or ice chunks will prevent the ice from breaking down and producing small ice chips. This makes straining easier and enhances egg white foam and head retention.
Double straining a Whiskey Sour into a double old fashioned glass.

Dry Shaking Egg Whites

Dry shaking is a technique of shaking cocktail ingredients with no ice. Dry shaking egg white will help break down the proteins in the egg and make it foamier and silky smooth. If you shake with ice first and only, it tends to dilute the egg whites and make them more watery.

Any cocktail with egg white should be shaken aggressively for a solid 20-30 seconds to whip up the egg, otherwise, it defeats the purpose.

Once the egg whites are frothy, add ice, give the cocktail a vigorous few shakes to chill, and double strain into your glass over ice. The egg white will float on the surface yielding a nice foamy crown.

If you enjoy egg white cocktails, also try my tequila mezcal cocktail or the New York Sour!

A frothy whiskey sour garnished with a brandied cherry and orange wedge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are raw egg whites safe to consume in cocktails?

Consuming raw eggs always poses a risk for foodborne illness. If you’re concerned, you can use pasteurized liquid egg whites sold in a carton or aquafaba. At a minimum, always use fresh eggs.

Can I make this without the egg?

You absolutely can. The egg white adds texture but does not necessarily add flavor. Follow the same process and just omit the egg/egg-related steps.

What’s the best bourbon to use?

Buffalo Trace
Larceny
Elijah Craig
Michter’s
Henry McKenna Single Barrel
Four Roses Single Barrel
Woodford Reserve
Knob Creek
Maker’s Mark

How is this different from the New York Sour?

The New York Sour is a variation that typically floats red wine on top in place of egg white.

More Whiskey Cocktails

Enjoy this recipe? If you made this cocktail, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!
4 from 2 votes

Whiskey Sour Recipe

Servings: 1 cocktail
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
A classic Whiskey Sour cocktail recipe made with bourbon, lemon, simple sugar, and egg white. Frothy, citrusy, and refreshing.

Ingredients 

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2-3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 egg white or 1 ounce liquid egg whites
  • Luxardo cherry and orange wedge for garnish
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Instructions 

  • Begin with a “dry shake”: In a Boston shaker, combine bourbon, lemon, egg white, and sugar without ice and vigorously shake for 30 seconds. This dry shake helps break down the proteins in the egg white, resulting in a creamier and smoother texture. It prevents dilution that may occur if ice is added right away.
  • Shake with ice: After the dry shake, add a cup of ice to the shaker and shake vigorously for an additional 20 seconds. This is the chilling process.
  • Strain and serve: Double strain the mixture into a double old-fashioned glass over fresh ice or serve it straight up in a coupe glass. The egg white will create a beautiful foam crown on the surface, enhancing the visual appeal and texture of your cocktail. Garnish with an orange wedge and cherry.

Notes

Always use fresh eggs at the very least. If you’re unsure about using raw egg white, you can use pasteurized liquid egg whites sold in a carton or aquafaba.
Always double-strain shaken cocktails through a fine mesh strainer. This removes tiny ice chips and also aerates the egg whites.
Chill your glasses ahead of time in the freezer to keep your drinks cooler for longer. This is one of my favorite tricks in the summer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 221kcalCarbohydrates: 18.5gProtein: 3.8gFat: 0.2gSaturated Fat: 0.2gSodium: 53mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 0.7g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cocktail
Cuisine: American
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About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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2 Comments

  1. Love this cocktail but I found that within the first 10-15 seconds of rigorous shake, it wanted to explode out of my shaker! I tried both the egg white and liquid egg white with the same result. But, I’d say I prefer the egg white right out of the shell, the liquid egg white made the cocktail more cloudy. Is there a trick to not have it push itself out of the shaker before you’re done shaking?

    1. This is inevitable unfortunately. A very tight fitting lid helps. You can also shake the egg white alone and then add the remaining ingredients and shake to mix.