20 best Whisk(e)y Sour cocktails

Words by Simon Difford

Photography by Dan Malpass

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The Whiskey Sour or, depending on the origin of your base spirit, Whisky Sour is one of the great classic cocktails. Brilliant in its simplest and original form but arguably better as the base for contemporary classics such as the Penicillin.

Noted bartenders across the decades have rightly concluded that sours are better when smoothed by adding egg white. If you have an aversion to raw eggs, then to make many of the following cocktails more palatable, consider using aquafaba (chickpea water) instead.

With the many styles of whisk(e)y now produced in countries all around the world, the humble and straightforward Whisk(e)y Sour looks set to be discovered by a whole new generation of drinkers. With this in mind, you may want to try switching whiskies in the following selection of the 20 best.

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Beelzebub
With: Bourbon, mezcal, amaro, orgeat, and lemon juice.
We say: A devilishly good bitter sweet, mezcal-laced whiskey sour.

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Boston Sour
With: Bourbon, lemon juice, sugar syrup, and egg white.
We say: Bourbon soured with lemon juice and smoothed by egg white.

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Brunswick
With: Rye whiskey, lemon juice, sugar syrup, and red wine.
We say: A rye whiskey-based New Your Sour without egg white (it's even better with).

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Cunningham
With: Blended Scotch, Bénédictine, cherry brandy, lemon juice, and blood orange juice,.
We say: Reminiscent of a Blood & Sand but with Bénédictine and lemon juice.

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Dramble
With: Blended Scotch, lemon juice, sugar syrup, and crème de mûre.
We say: A Scotch whisky-based riff on Dick Bradsell's Bramble.

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Greenwich Sour
With: Rye whiskey, lemon juice, sugar syrup, aromatic bitters, egg white, and red wine.
We say: A rye whiskey-based New York Sour. Yumm!

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Hawaiian Stone Sour
With: Bourbon, lemon juice, pineapple juice, and sugar syrup.
We say: Created by the legendary Dale DeGroff at Manhattan's Rainbow Room.

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Haystack Sour
With: Bourbon, gentian liqueur, apricot brandy, and lemon juice.
We say: "A yellow version of Sam Ross' Paper Plane" that has "the perfume of a hayfield in late summer."

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Honey Badger
With: Rosemary, bourbon, Yellow Chartreuse, ginger syrup, honey syrup, lemon juice, and lemon bitters.
We say: Named after a carnivorous animal which, despite its name, bears more resemblance to an oversized weasel.

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Irish Maid
With: Fresh cucumber, Irish whiskey, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, and sugar syrup.
We say: A whiskey-based riff on Sam Ross' Kentucky Maid.

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London Sour
With: Blended Scotch, orange juice, lemon juice, orgeat, and sugar syrup.
We say: A orange juice lengthened sour by Trader Vic in 1963.

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Man O' War
With: Bourbon, triple sec, sweet vermouth, lemon juice, and sugar syrup.
We say: A mid-20th century cocktail named after a thoroughbred horse so befits it's bourbon base.

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Monte Cassino
With: Rye whiskey, Bénédictine, Yellow Chartreuse, and lemon juice.
We say: A rye-based riff on a Last Word.

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Mountain Man
With: Bourbon, peach liqueur, lemon juice, maple syrup, ginger syrup, and egg white.
We say: A peachy Whiskey Sour with a mild ginger kick.

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New York Sour
With: Bourbon, lemon juice, sugar syrup, aromatic bitters, egg white, and red wine.
We say: OK, egg white is not classically used in a New York Sour but its better with it.

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Penicillin Cocktail
With: Blended Scotch, ginger liqueur (or honey & ginger syrup), Islay single malt, lemon juice and honey syrup.
We say: My take on Sam Ross' contemporary classic without the raff of making honey & ginger syrup (but should you be so inclined, I've included the recipe).

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Scotch Sour
With: Blended Scotch, lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg white.
We say: Just as it says on the tin.

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Smoky Whisky Sour
With: Islay single malt, blended Scotch, lemon juice, maple syrup and egg white.
We say: A Penicillin without ginger but with maple syrup in place of honey. And it has egg white.

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Whiskey Sour (Difford's recipe)
With: Bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, sugar syrup, aromatic bitters, and egg white.
We say: My favoured recipe confirms to eh 4:2:8 sour formular.

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Whisky Business
With: Rye whiskey, chili liqueur, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, and aromatic bitters.
We say: A rye sour enlivened with chili and cinnamon spice.

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