Whiskey Sour Recipe (Or Any True Sour Cocktail)

Whiskey Sour
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  • Servings : 1
  • Prep Time : 5m
  • Cook Time : 0m
  • Ready In : 5m

I call this a whiskey sour recipe because that is traditionally what a sour is made with, but as you can see, you can create a true sour cocktail using a wide variety of liquors.


  • 2 ounces whiskey (any kind), gin, rum, amaretto, vodka, or eau-de-vie
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup (see below for how to make a simple syrup)
  • Dash of angostura or orange bitters or splash of club soda
  • Maraschino cherry, orange round, or seasonal berries, for garnish


Step 1

Pour the liquor, lemon juice, and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice, cover, and shake vigorously 20 times.

Step 2

Fill a rocks glass with fresh ice and strain the sour over the ice. Add a dash of bitters or a splash of soda and garnish with a cherry, orange round, or berries. The soda makes the drink a little livelier.

Notes from the drink creator Eban:

In the age when sours were invented, cocktail garnishes tended to be on the baroque side, and drinks were often stacked high with citrus twists, grapes, and meringue. I use a simple cherry or thin round of orange, a garnish called a flag, but feel free to turn back the hands of time and use a fruit that underscores the flavors in the drink. One of the nice aspects of so simple a cocktail is that you can use it as a backdrop for other flavors such as flavored fruit schnapps.

How to Make Simple Syrup:

Take 2 parts sugar and 1 part water.

Bring the water to a boil. Dissolve the sugar into the boiling water, stirring constantly. Once the sugar is dissolved completely, remove the pan from the heat. (Note: Do not allow the syrup to boil for too long or the it will be too thick.) Allow to cool completely and thicken, then use it or bottle it.

Did You Know?…

This recipe for whiskey sour comes from a wonderful book called The Cocktail Primer: All You Need to Know to Make the Perfect Drink by Eben Klemm.

It is a handy reference book that is perfect for any home bar and bartender.

Here is what Eban says about “sour” cocktail recipes:

The following formula will work nearly universally for your favorite base spirit, provided it is not ghastly or too sweet. If you favor sweet liquors, you might want to skip the simple syrup and increase the amount of lemon juice.

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If you like Eban’s whiskey sour, try his margarita recipe. It’s delicious too.

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