The Whisky Sour is such a classic cocktail, it even has its own day. Whisky Sour Day is the 25th of August, meaning it’s time to put the spotlight on this legendary drink.
Ask anyone to name an iconic cocktail, and a Whisky Sour is bound to be up there. It brings the best out of whisky by blending sweet and tangy notes with the multiple flavours found in a good quality blend.
This remarkable drink is said to date back centuries, to when sailors were circling the globe and stored fruit onboard to battle scurvy. A crew member decided to team some of the ship’s lemons with whisky, and the very first Whisky Sour was born. Pirates might have stocked up on rum, but old-school sailors preferred their drinks with a sharp edge.
As you’d expect from a cocktail over 150 years old, there's no definitive recipe. The very beauty of the Whisky Sour is that you can level up with all kinds of extras, such as red wine, cherries and orange slices. For example, egg white became a key element over the years to add a rich creaminess to the drink. This means a double shake is needed when making the cocktail, one with just the ingredients and then again with ice, to provide a luxurious frothy texture.
So to celebrate National Whisky Sour Day, it’s time to put your personal spin on a classic. Here are three ways to elevate the classic Whisky Sour.
1. Enhance the sweetness
Sugar syrup is the conventional way to sweeten the Whisky Sour, but try hunting through your cupboards for a rule-breaking alternative. The smart way to boost your creation is to ditch the sweetener for something with more depth.
Honey is an easy way to add more levels of flavour. A spoonful will bring out the sweet caramel notes from whiskies like Chivas Extra 13 Sherry Cask* and Chivas Regal XV, and it’ll work with the egg white to deliver a rich, satisfying mouthfeel. Maple syrup is another solid choice, as the dark flavours and gooey texture adds a fruity, caramelised taste to the final cocktail.
2. Liqueur adds new levels
Want to add something extra? Dig out your favourite liqueur for your personalised take on the Whisky Sour. Check your drinks cabinet and play around with what you have by adjusting the standard Whisky Sour ratios. Rather than a double shot of Chivas, bring it down to 40ml and replace that 10ml with your favourite flavoured liqueur.
Fruit-forward liqueurs are a reliably great choice to combine with lemon juice - try peach, apricot or cherry to ramp up the sweet notes and tame those tart flavours.
3. Looking for inspiration?
If you're not sure where to begin, try out these next-level recipes. They’re easy to make but packed with enough ideas to have you mixing up inspired variations in no time.
The New York Sour is a beautiful drink with a red wine float, based on a New York sunset viewed from a penthouse suite.
New York Sour recipe:
50ml Chivas Extra 13 Rye Cask**
25ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed
20ml sugar syrup
1 egg white
12.5ml Campo Viejo Rioja
Method: Dry shake all ingredients except red wine, shake again with ice, then strain into a rocks glass over ice. Add the red wine.
Then there’s the Morning Glory Fizz, which adds a few dashes of soda and absinthe for an extra earthy kick that doesn’t overpower the all-important sour effect.
It’s simple to make, but the Vanity is a real show-stopper. Created by Rhys Wilson at the 2017 Chivas Masters, this stunning drink ramps up the orchard fruit flavours by adding black apple aperitif and berries, while balancing it all to create something sweet, elegant and with a kick.
The Whisky Sour is one of the world’s most versatile and celebrated cocktails. Use the above ideas as a starting point, and you’ll soon be making one-of-a-kind creations, guaranteed to wow your party guests.
*A portion of this blended Scotch whisky has been matured in Oloroso sherry casks.
**A portion of this blended Scotch whisky has been finished in American Rye casks.