If you enjoy whiskey cocktails, there is one classic one that should not be overlooked: the whiskey sour. This is a simple cocktail that has been on the books for well over a century (the earliest official recipe dates back to the 1860s, but unofficial versions predate that by decades) and it is just as satisfying now as it was then, if not moreso. The cocktail is generally made with bourbon, but can be made with other whiskeys as well, and blends the spirit with lemon juice, simple syrup (a 1:1 mixture of water and sugar) and egg white. The drink is exceptionally well balanced, with just the right blend of sour and sweet, and a nice vanilla and oak character from the bourbon to drink the cocktail some depth and keep it from tasting like fancy lemonade.
You might be wondering why there is egg white in this cocktail. Egg whites give a creamy texture to cocktails and also help to bind flavors together. You can easily test this for yourself by making two versions of this drink and tasting them side by side to see the subtle, but noticeable, differences. Egg whites also create a nice foam on top of the drink, giving it a very pretty final presentation. You can use a whole egg white in your drink or substitute a tablespoon of pasteurized egg white (the kind that comes from a carton), if you don’t feel comfortable using a raw egg white in your drink.
To get the foam to be just right, you’re going to have to shake this drink twice. First, combine all the ingredients and shake them vigorously without any ice in your shaker. This will give the egg white a chance to develop, just as it does when you are making a meringue. Then, add your ice and shake the drink again. The egg white will have achieved most of its volume during the first shake, while the drink cools and dilutes slightly (allowing the flavors to come together) during the second shake. The cocktail will be very creamy when you first pour it out, but will separate quickly into a thick foam on top of the rest of the cocktail.
Classic Whiskey Sour
2 oz bourbon
1 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
1 egg white or 1 tbsp pasteurized liquid egg white
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Do not add ice. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds, then add a big scoop of ice. Shake again until cold, approximately 10 seconds. Strain into an old fashioned cocktail glass/rocks glass filled with ice.
Garnish with an orange wedge and a cherry.