Whiskey Sour

Chris McMillian, our master bartender at the Library Lounge in New Orleans, takes me (and us) on a trip to my childhood again. This was another of my dad’s favorites, along with the Old Fashioned and the drink that was probably most oft-consumed at family gatherings, the “Highball” (which in my family was always Seagram’s V.O. and 7-Up). This one, which went down smoother than the powerful Old Fashioned, was the one I was allowed to have a tiny sip of most often.

I hesitate to ever order one of these out, because most of the time you’ll get crap sour mix in it. If you go to fresh juice bar (which all bars will be before long if we do our jobs right), give one of these a try. I suspect it’s possible you’ve never had one made properly, or at the very least you haven’t had one in a long time.

You don’t need to go overboard on the whiskey for these, either. At home Wes and I particularly like Old Grand-Dad in a Whiskey Sour, and that’ll set us back the princely sum of about $10 a bottle.

I’m a tartness fanatic, so I will frequently invert the proportions of lemon juice and simple syrup. Adjust the proportions to your own taste; here’s how it’s usually made.

The Whiskey Sour

2 ounces Bourbon whiskey.
1 ounce simple syrup.
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
1 egg white.

Combine ingredients in a shaker WITHOUT ice, and shake for 15-20 seconds to froth up the egg and emulsify the ingredients. Add ice and hard shake for 20 seconds, and pour into a sour glass or Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Dad never did put egg white in his, but managed to get a halfway-decent head on them anyway. I love the addition of egg white in a sour — don’t fear eggs in your drinks! Just wait until I start foisting flips on you (which include a whole egg … for a shiny coat).

[2010 update: Recently at Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston, co-owner and bartender Justin Burrow served me a marvelous Whiskey Sour made with William Weller 107 proof Bourbon which had been infused with cacao nibs (“about a handful in about a pint of whiskey,” Justin said. Tremendous!]