Though a whiskey sour may seem old-fashioned and reserved for the likes of your grandfather, this timeless cocktail is surprisingly easy to make and delicious, too! With an illustrious history and a simple ingredient list, this drink is sure to make you feel classy and dignified whenever you order it. Unlike many cocktails, a whiskey sour is—as the name implies—sour in taste rather than sweet. So if you can't stand sugary drinks but aren't up for straight liquor either, this is a great alternative. But if you're still wondering, what is a whiskey sour, exactly? I've got you covered.

The History of the Whiskey Sour

Brighton Vegetarian Guide Purezza whiskey sours - Charlie on Travel

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The oldest known mention of a whiskey sour dates back to a bartending guide from 1862, though it's thought to have existed for at least a century before that. This drink has been popular for so long because it requires only four ingredients: whiskey, lemon, water, and sugar. By the mid-1930s, many whiskey sours were made using a pre-bottled sour mix. However, half a decade later, many bartenders were once again ditching the pre-made sour mix in favor of fresh lemon juice. Today, some people prefer that the simple syrup (water and sugar) be prepared ahead of time, claiming a smoother mix.

Despite its simple ingredient list, a perfect whiskey sour can be elusive; the drink is easily put off balance by a poor ratio of its components. Too much syrup and the drink tastes too sweet— like a sour candy—and the taste of the whiskey itself is overwhelmed. Because of this, a well made whiskey sour is often considered a sophisticated drink choice, while a poorly made version of the same drink is more commonly associated with rowdy young drinkers.

How to Make a Classic Whiskey Sour

Making whiskey sours at home cause its Thursday

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A classic whiskey sour is prepared in two steps: first, make the sour mix, and then the drink itself. The sour mix is generally comprised of two parts water, one part lemon juice, and one part white sugar. If you're taking your time with it, you can boil the water and sugar first to create a simple syrup. Otherwise, thoroughly mix all three ingredients together, preferably in a cocktail shaker.

Once you've made the sour mix, pour two parts of your favorite whiskey over ice, and top with the sour mix. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or a slice of fresh citrus fruit. I like to use 'drunken cherries' that have been previously soaked in liquor to add an extra kick to the drink.

Jazz It Up a Little

Whiskey sour at L'Escargot

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If a classic whiskey sour just doesn't do it for you, there are plenty of ways to modify it. The most popular way of shaking things up (literally) is to add an egg white for a creamier texture. Some would ask, what is a whiskey sour without an egg white?But technically the addition of this ingredient makes it a Boston Sour instead. Another city-inspired variation is the New York Sour, where a few spoonfuls of red wine are added to the top of the already mixed drink. Other versions often add honey or maple syrup to bring a touch of sweetness to this otherwise tart drink. Personally, I've experimented with using Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey whiskey to the same effect.

If you haven't already tried this simple and understated drink, why not order it the next time you're out at the bar? Better yet, show off to your squad by whipping up a whole batch for everyone to try. Whiskey sours are sure to impress even the most refined of drinkers.