Ah, the humble Whiskey Sour. I’m not a big drinker, but, when fighting the patriarchy and racism, my drink of choice is the whiskey sour.
Since starting this blog, I have been trying to figure out my voice. With over 2 million recipe blogs and websites, how do you make yourself stand out in such a crowded environment? Every answer I have found is to just be yourself. Because no other blog will have you. For me to be me, that means bringing in the things that I am passionate about, mainly food, education, and politics.
I feel I do a pretty good job with the first two but can still do better (perfectionist over here!). But I feel like I have been trying to hide the political side of me. I didn’t want to offend anyone. But the world is big and vast and I am too involved to not occasionally write about local, national, and world events. The writings won’t always be perfect because I am still growing and learning. But I will no longer be keeping quiet about things that are happening in the world around us. I hope you will stick around. On that note, let’s talk about Whiskey Sour.
What are you going to learn?
- How to make a sour
- The benefits of adding egg whites
- What is a dry shake and why do I need one
A traditional sour has a ratio of 8:4:3; 8 parts spirits, 4 parts sweet, and 3 parts sour. The most common sour is, unsurprisingly, the Whiskey Sour. For me, the original version of this drink is a little too sweet when made with a bourbon whiskey. So I cut my ratio down to 8:3:3, meaning there are equal parts sweet and sour. Now this might depend on the type of whiskey you are using. I was using Maker’s Mark, a pretty smooth and sweet whiskey. If you go with something that is smokier or spicier, you may want to revisit the ratio and adjust it to your taste.
What is a Boston Sour?
Technically, this recipe is for a Boston Sour. What makes the Boston Sour unique is the addition of the egg white to a traditional Whiskey Sour (never thought I’d use the word “sour” so much in one post… but here we are).
Why Add an Egg White?
The addition of the egg white isn’t a necessary ingredient for this recipe. But it does add a few things that I think are beneficial to the drink:
- Texture: the egg white helps to give the drink a fuller body and creamier texture.
- Cuts the alcohol: if you are using a lower quality whiskey, adding the egg white helps the drink to taste a bit smoother and tempers that harsh alcohol kick that some less expensive whiskey’s can bring.
Standard Shake vs Dry Shake
A standard shake is probably exactly what you think of when you think of a bartender shaking drinks behind the bar. They add all the ingredients to the shaker along with ice and shake away for a time that is determined by the type of cocktail they are making.
A dry shake means shaking the ingredients without ice before shaking a second time with ice. It is common when making drinks with cream or eggs. The theory being “that first shaking without ice, and at a higher temperature, better allows the drink to emulsify producing more aeration and a thicker foam on top of the finished cocktail.”1
When to use a Standard Shake vs a Dry Shake?
The reason you shake cocktails with ice isn’t just to chill the drink. It also adds water, a process called dilution. The addition of water helps cut down on the burning alcohol of the spirit you are using. This has the added benefit of enhancing the actual flavor of your booze (does it have a slightly nutty flavor that lingers on the tongue? This will enhance that).
As I said, shaking with ice dilutes your cocktail giving your drink better flavor. The problem with adding the egg white is, in order to make it nice and foamy, you have to shake for a longer time than is required to dilute your drink leading to a watered down cocktail. So, dry shake to create the foam, and shake with ice to chill and dilute.
How Do I Dry Shake
According to Cara Devine on Behind the Bar, there are two different versions of the dry shake.
- Dry Shake: Place all ingredients into your shaker, shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds to emulsify the ingredients, and then add ice and shake again to chill and dilute. Strain into your glass, enjoy!
- Reverse Dry Shake: Place all ingredients, except the egg whites, into a shaker with ice and shake to dilute. Strain out the ice and return mixture to the shaker with the egg white, shake vigorously to emulsify the ingredients and then pour into your glass of choice.
For me, the second choice provides me with the best head on my drink. But method 2 is a bit of a pain so most of the time, I will stick with option 1.
What Whiskey Should I Use?
You’re not going to like this answer, but use a whiskey you like. For a long time, Jameson was my go to. After making the decision to write this post, I wanted to try to expand my horizons a little bit. But to be honest, booze is expensive so I have only tried Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky. (If you want to help increase my whiskey collection, you can contribute to my patreon, please and thank you.)
If you’re new to whiskey, I would say Maker’s is a good starting point. It tastes good but is pretty soft and sweet without a lot of oaky flavors. If you want to try something that has a bit more flavor too it, Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey is a brand that kept popping up. Since it has rye in it, Bulleit is going to be a little bit drier and smokier than Maker’s Mark Bourbon.
What type of glass should I use?
You can either use a coupe, which is standard or a rocks glass. If using a rocks glass, you can add a large piece of ice to the glass. If you are a slow drinker, I would recommend the coupe or rocks glass without ice because the addition of ice in the glass will dilute your drink over time causing it to become watered down. My preference is for the rocks glass with ice because it feels more stable than a coupe in my hand. And if the drink is made properly, it’s not going to last very long.
How to Make 1:1 Simple Syrup
This recipe uses a simple 1:1 simple syrup. There is one part sugar to one part water. Place sugar in water into a saucepan and bring to a boil without stirring. Once it comes to a boil, pour into heat resistant glass bottles. Lightly place a lid on top of your jar (you don’t want to create a tight seal just yet) and let it cool to room temperature. Once cool to the touch, fully tighten the lid and refrigerate. Will keep in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.
- 60 milliliters Bourbon Whiskey 2 ounces
- 22.5 milliliters lemon juice, freshly squeezed ¾ ounce
- 22.5 milliliters 1:1 simple syrup (see notes) ¾ ounce
- 15 milliliters egg white, optional ½ ounce
- 3 dashes Angostura or Orange Bitters
- In a shaker, combine all ingredients except for the ice. Shake until the egg white is foamy, about 30 seconds. Add 6-8 standard size ice cubes and shake until the exterior of the shaker is cold and frosty, about 15 seconds. Use a cocktail strainer to pour the cocktail through a fine mesh strainer and into your glass of choice.
The more ice you use the faster the cocktail will chill and the less dilution will happen.
- To Make the 1:1 Simple Syrup
Place sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil without stirring. Once it comes to a boil, carefully pour into heat resistant glass bottles. Lightly place a lid on top of your jar (you don’t want to create a tight seal just yet) and let it cool to room temperature. Once cool to the touch, fully tighten the lid and refrigerate. Will keep in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.