This classic Whiskey Sour is made with only the freshest ingredients, none too sweet, just perfect for sipping. And the best part, for me? The drink was first mentioned, way back when, in a Wisconsin newspaper.

A side shot of a whiskey sour cocktail garnished with a cherry.

You read that right! An 1870 issue of the Waukesha Plain Dealer has the earliest sighting of this vintage bourbon cocktail: “‘Amen,’ says the Methodist, as he ordered another Whisky Sour.”

So not just Wisconsin, but Waukesha. WAU-kee-shaw, as we natives say.

Even if you aren’t partial to the taste of whiskey, there’s something appealing about this spin on adult lemonade that you will probably enjoy, immensely. History proves it.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled whiskey sour ingredients on a counter.

Ingredient notes:

  • Whiskey or bourbon: Whatever you like, or whatever you have. You’re mixing it with citrus, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be “top-shelf.”
  • Simple syrup: Super easy to make at home. Just combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Or, use store-bought.
  • Lemon juice: On average, one lemon has 2 tablespoons of juice in it, so plan on using 1 lemon per 2 cocktails.
  • Lime juice: On average, one lime has 1 tablespoon of juice in it, so plan on using 1 lime per cocktail.
  • Cherry (or orange wheel): A good garnish is, literally in this case, the cherry on top. A classic maraschino cherry will do, or spiff it up with an even fancier fruit like Luxardo Maraschino cherries.  Cut a thin slice of a fresh orange, too, if you’re feeling extra.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. First, fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add your whiskey, simple syrup, and citrus juices.
    Liquor being poured into a martini shaker.
  2. Put the lid firmly on the shaker and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Strain the contents of the shaker out into a cocktail glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry and/or and orange wheel.
    An overhead shot of two whiskey sour cocktails garnished with cherries.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Big batch: To make a batch of 12 cocktails, in a large pitcher filled with ice, stir together 24 ounces (3 cups) whiskey, 12 ounces (1 ½ cups) simple syrup, 6 ounces (¾ cup) lemon juice, and 6 ounces (¾ cup) lime juice. Have ice, glassware, and garnishes on hand so guests can help themselves.
  • No cocktail shaker: Find your biggest, sturdiest glass and fill it with ice. Add the drink ingredients, then stir with a long spoon to get it all mixed and chilled. Strain through a small mesh strainer or use a slotted spoon to keep the ice in the shaker as you pour the cocktail.
  • Egg whites: Some versions of the drink include an egg white for silky body and foamy frothiness. If you want to try this, first give the ingredients a “dry shake” (without ice) to emulsify them. Then, add ice to the shaker and give everything a second shake to chill the cocktail.

Other classic cocktails to sip:

A whiskey sour in a rocks glass.

Whiskey Sour Cocktail

This classic Whiskey Sour is made with only the freshest ingredients, none too sweet, just perfect for sipping. My favorite part? The drink was first mentioned, way back when, in a Wisconsin newspaper.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 1 cocktail
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Calories 239

Ingredients 

  • 2 ounces whiskey (¼ cup, see note 1)
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice (1 ½ tbsp, see note 2)
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup (1 ½ tbsp, see note 3)
  • 1 maraschino cherry for garnish
  • 1 orange slice for garnish

Instructions 

  • In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Cover and shake until chilled, about 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with cherry and orange slice.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Whiskey: Or substitute bourbon.
  2. Lemon juice: Or substitute lime juice.
  3. Simple syrup: To make it yourself, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved (do not boil). Remove from heat and cool before adding to your cocktail shaker with the other ingredients. Store leftover simple syrup covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.
  4. Yield: This recipe makes 1 cocktail.
  5. Big batch: To make a batch of 8 cocktails, combine 16 ounces (2 cups) whiskey, 6 ounces (¾ cup) lemon juice, and 6 ounces (¾ cup) lemon juice in a pitcher. Have ice, glassware, and garnishes on hand so guests can help themselves.
  6. No cocktail shaker: Fill a large glass with ice. Add the drink ingredients, then stir with a long spoon to get it all mixed and chilled. Strain through a small mesh strainer or use a slotted spoon to keep the ice in the shaker as you pour the cocktail.
  7. Gold Rush: Substitute honey syrup for the simple syrup: Combine ¼ cup water and ¼ cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until honey is dissolved (do not boil). Remove from heat and cool. Garnish the cocktail with a lemon peel instead of the orange slice and maraschino cherry.
  8. Boston Sour: This version of the drink includes an egg white for silky body and foamy frothiness. If you want to try this, first give the ingredients a “dry shake” (without ice) to emulsify them. Then, add ice to the shaker and give everything a second shake to chill the cocktail.
  9. New York Sour: After straining the cocktail into a rocks glass with ice, float 1 tablespoon full-bodied red wine on top (or serve straight up, without ice).
  10. Amaretto Sour: Substitute 1 ½ ounces amaretto for the whiskey and top with lemon-lime soda if desired. Garnish with a cherry.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cocktailCalories: 239kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 17mgPotassium: 72mgFiber: 1gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 33IUVitamin C: 18mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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Comments

  1. Yea Wisconsin!
    WI drinks and food are awesome and from the heart.
    We also make Old Fashions – to die for 😀
    Love Culinary Hill just as much.
    Thank you for all the fantastic recipes.