Around this time of the year, when the heat is relentless, and the humidity seemingly unbearable, I find myself returning to a cocktail that I hold dear to my heart. A truly refreshing and delicious drink that, for many reasons, is misunderstood by the masses—the Sour. I love all sours: gin sour, tequila sour, even a vodka sour on a miserably hot day. But today, I’m returning to the prize of them all: the Whiskey Sour. And not the kind, I shudder to think, made from that radioactive, unrefrigerated evil that many people found themselves drinking out of their parent’s liquor cabinet when they were young—cue all the terrible memories. That is not what a sour should be, and I am here to defend the delightful whiskey sour, as well as show you, my beautiful ladies, how delicious it can be.
So where did the Sour come from?
The sour is considered one of the earliest cocktails, dated from around 1856, alongside the fix, or the fix-up. As I was taught, there are a collection of “Mother Cocktails” from which each and every cocktail we make today can be traced back to, much like the “Mother Sauces” of French cuisine. The Sour is one of these “Mothers.” David Wondrich defines the American Cocktail as “spirits, bitters, sugar, and water combined,” and the sour is, simply, one step away from this recipe. All sours must have three main ingredients: a strong (the spirit), a sweet (the sugar), and a tart (the juice). As far as I’m concerned, bitters are an honorary fourth ingredient in the sour, because no sour could be made worse by a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters. Beyond that, it’s simply creativity. Looking for a lighter mouth feel and delicious texture in your drink? Add an egg white. Want some bubbles? (I always do.) Add Champagne.