Last Updated on June 9, 2020 by Fiona Maclean
Classic Whiskey Cocktail – Whiskey Sour
A classic whiskey cocktail like the whiskey sour is as quintessentially American as shrimp and grits or buttermilk chicken. Kentucky is the home of bourbon, with distilleries scattered across the state in much the same way that you’ll find Scotch whisky distilleries right the way across the country. The origin of bourbon dates back to when Kentucky was first being settled. The English, Irish and Scottish settlers found the bluegrass region largely free of Indians, fertile and easy to cultivate. But, to claim their settlement they had to prove their right to be there – by building or by planting corn. Having grown corn, they looked for something good to produce from their harvest. Whilst the English were used to drinking gin, both the Irish and Scottish were used to Whisk(e)y. And, the settlers had the ideal conditions to distil whiskey or bourbon from the corn since most would choose to live where there were ample supplies of fresh spring water.
Bulleit is a relatively modern brand with a heritage. According to Tom Bulleit who created the drink we know today in 1987, the first batch of Bulleit was made around 1830 by his great-great-grandfather and continued to be made for around thirty years. Today’s Bulleit bourbon still has a high percentage of rye, but not as much as the drink which was originally made which would be a rye whiskey by today’s regulations. The bourbon is aged in charred American white oak casks and that together with the high rye content produces a dark-coloured bourbon with aromas of toasted oak, vanilla and dried fruit. It’s delicious to sip or just on the rocks. But, it also works very well in a cocktail like this whiskey sour, a classic American cocktail that was particularly popular during the prohibition era.
The original whiskey sour probably originated from a variation on the gimlet – using a distilled and safe liquor to drink (when water was not) with the addition of citrus for vitamin C and sugar to make the whole thing palatable. Whilst the English Navy drank rum with lime, Americans made their own version using bourbon, probably a hundred years or so before the recipe was first written down, in the 1862 book The Bartender’s Guide by Jerry Thomas. Today’s version differs from the original by using simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water) rather than sugar and by the addition of a dash or so of angostura bitters but is otherwise more or less true to the version that would have been enjoyed over a hundred and fifty years ago. Egg white is often added to create a smoother drink and personally I prefer it that way.
I’d like to think it’s the perfect cocktail for father’s day too when made with a premium bourbon like Bulleit 10-year-old.
Here’s the recipe for a Whiskey Sour if you’d like to make one for yourself.
Classic Whiskey Sour Cocktail
- 45 ml bourbon
- 25 ml lemon juice
- 10 ml 2:1 simple syrup
- 2 dashes angostura bitters
- 10 ml egg white
- 1 cocktail cherry
- 1 slice citrus
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
Add the bourbon, lemon juice, egg white and Angostura bitters
Shake well and strain. Discard the ice from the cocktail shaker
For an extra smooth and frothy cocktail, dry shake the whisky sour again for 30 seconds
Fill a glass with ice and double strain the whisky sour over the ice
Garnish with a cherry and a slice of lemon or orange
Prefer something different? How about a classic Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail? . I made mine with Scotch, but it’s more traditionally made with American whiskey or bourbon
Bulleit Bourbon 10-Year-Old is available to buy from Master of Malt or Whisky Exchange RRP £41.25. What’s more, for an added personal touch, custom specialists INKD are offering a selection of personalised Bulleit 10-Year-Old bottles with exclusive designs, for the extra special gift for any whisky aficionado father. To personalise your bottle, head to INKD for more information.