The cocktail diaries: Whiskey sour

Last updated 12:05 01/03/2013
TOP TIPPLE: Using a 12-year-old Johnnie Walker black label whiskey adds smokiness and honey complexities to the cocktail.

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Today's Whisky Sour isn't quite what it used to be, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. 


Main ingredient Lemon
Type of dish Cocktails
Course Drinks
Cooking time <30 min
Serves/makes 1
Special options None

Time has seen it evolve and mould into a variety of styles to suit the modern range of drinkers.

Perhaps this is due to its lack of a curious tale or story, which so many other stalwart classics tend to have. It seems to have progressed slowly, adapting with the times to a point now, where every bar has its own preferred method and presentation.

Classically it was served in cute little tulip shaped sours glasses with simply lemon, sugar, water & American whiskey, oh and a chunk of lemon. Simple, refreshing and packing a punch.

Now it's generally served in tumblers, and has seen the addition of the following ingredients... ice, egg white, bitters, red wine, orange wedges, cherries, sours mixes and a variety of different styles of whiskey.

While bourbon is the classic choice, the recipe easily adapts to Scotch, Irish Canadian or Japanese varieties, depending on your favourite type.

What has roughly stayed the same is the quantity used, as the beauty of any good sour is the balance between fresh zingy citrus and the sugar and whiskey.

While I'll happily mix any guest a vintage version on request, I've been mixing the following, less classic recipe for years now, and the many smiles it's delivered make it difficult to live in the past.


30ml fresh lemon juice - fresh is best, forget the rest!
1 tsp of caster sugar & a dash of soda water to dissolve, or 15ml of sugar syrup
15ml egg white
2 dashes orange bitters
60ml Johnnie Walker Black label - This delivers smokiness, oak, orange and honey complexities for a full-flavoured premium scotch sour

1. Add all ingredients to a shaker and first perform a dry shake (without ice) to help mix the egg white into the other ingredients.

2. Then give it a long vigorous hard shake with ice to emulsify and aerate the egg white. The longer and harder you shake the better this drink gets (within reason).

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3. The aerated egg white forms a lush silky foam texture which dances over the palate.

4. Strain over large ice cubes and garnish with a flamed lemon zest to add intense aromas.

5. Kick back and enjoy!

- Jason Clark is the bartender at Hummingbird Eatery and Bar. 

- Stuff

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