Like many people, over the last few years or more, I have found myself cutting out processed food, eating local grown produce and generally invoking higher standards on my dining. And while I have always bought pretty good booze, (otherwise what’s the point), I had never carried over these principles to my drinking. I bought pre-made margarita mix and sour mix right out of the grocery store.
And then one day, as I went to mix a whiskey sour, I realized the sour mix was full of chemicals, and it tasted lousy. A little online searching found some super easy three-ingredient recipes for homemade sour mix. And that was my entree into craft cocktails which are simple whole ingredients mixed in alluring combinations to make delicious cocktails unsullied by preservatives and artificial flavored crap.
And so I give you the first cocktail I started making from scratch, the Whiskey Sour. First, the liquor. I use Irish whiskey or rye (which technically makes it a rye sour) in my sours. I am a believer in having ‘house’ liquors, sort of like having house wines. My ‘house’ whiskey is Jameson’s and my ‘house’ rye is Redemption. You can also use any good quality whiskey or rye however. Next the sour mix. Sour mix is basically simple syrup mixed with lemon juice. The simple syrup is simply sugar and water heated together to make a syrup. I use regular cane sugar in mine. If you prefer not to, you could use raw sugar, which will deepen the flavor a little. Lastly, you need lemon juice. Fresh squeezed lemon juice really does make a difference. And fortunately, lemons are available all seasons and never cost that much to buy. The traditional garnish is a maraschino cherry. Please for the love of god, do not ruin this beautiful cocktail with a regular artificially colored and flavored maraschino cherry. In specialty stores you can find Luxardo maraschino cherries, imported from Italy, they are cherries preserved in sugar syrup. If you prefer to make your own, you can soak some fresh or dried cherries in bourbon, overnight or for a few days, and use those.
Partially fill a cocktail shaker or clean jar with ice.
2 ounces of whiskey or rye
0.75 ounces of lemon juice*
0.75 ounces of simple syrup*
Shake and strain into a coupe or other “up” cocktail glass. It can also be served over ice in a highball glass.
*The ratio of lemon juice to simple syrup is a very personal thing. After tasting the drink, if you prefer it sweeter or more sour, add simple syrup or lemon juice to your taste. You can just toss the whole thing back in the shaker, add your ingredient, reshake and strain.
Note: You can make this a stronger drink by using 2.5 ounces of whiskey. You can make it lighter by topping it with some seltzer water.