whisky sour

There are times when you want the original. The real original. Not the new thing, not the bottled thing, not the artificial thing.

We’ve had two days of sunshine with scattered clouds and snow showers. It’s beautiful to have golden sunlight dash each flake as it drifts down. It’s also a sign from God to stay indoors. Two months from now, a day like today at 30°F will seem warm. Today it seems cold.

So we had a football day: nachos and pig-in-a-blanket. Fire in the fireplace. And I wanted a classic drink: a good, honest whiskey sour. That drink needs three things: great whiskey, great sour, and great ice cubes. Yes, ice cubes. As it melts, any flavor in the ice is transferred to the drink. Our water comes from a deep well, and the watershed here is drained into a reservoir that eventually feeds New York City. The water is famous for being pure.

That leaves the whisky and sour. Our whiskey is from Tennessee and, like the ice, is no problem.

The sour part is the challenge. Yes, you can buy those lovely plastic bottles of sour mix. I’m sure that there’s no contamination from the plastic. And even if they are made in China, Indonesia, or somewhere in Illinois, I know there is no issue with the quality or anything at all harmful with those chemicals in there. The chemicals that let the bottle sit on the shelf for years with no change in content flavor. That’s right whether you drink the stuff on day one or year four, it’ll taste the same.

That’s just why I make my own sour mix. I’ve posted some recipes here before, but I have a new, very quick one. Kim Haasarud in 101 Champagne Cocktails suggests this wonderful recipe:

Fresh Sour Mix

Yield: 1 cup


  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup simple syrup


In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix to stir, place in a covered container, refrigerate between usage. The lifespan is 2-3 weeks.

With that sour mix, here’s how to have a bright, intense and honest whisky sour:

Honest Whisky Sour

Yield: 1 drink


  • 2 ounces premium whisky or bourbon
  • 3 ounces fresh sour mix
  • Cherry or orange or lemon slice for garnish


Place ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously. Pour into an Old Fashioned glass. Add 2-3 large ice cubes. Do not add shaved ice, since it will melt quicker and dilute the drink.

If you prefer you can garnish with a cherry or slice of citrus. Personally, I don’t like things rubbing against my nose when I drink.

Source: Brian O’Rourke with Inspiration from Kim Haasarud