The cocktail is an art form that peaked in the middle of the 20th century and has been in rapid decline since. As a young lad, I was schooled in the fine art of cocktailing by my father and grandfathers, I learned many valuable lessons that I plan to pass on. I also want to resurrect some of the old classics that vastly surpass the sugary & fruity concoctions made today with their simplicity, elegance and bold flavors. Most of the time I will focus on one drink, and to provide, at least in my opinion, the definitive recipe, but hope to expand to other related topics as I see fit. Please mix yourself a cocktail, read, drink, and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Grandma’s Whiskey Sour



Meyer lemons are in season, which means it is time to make whiskey sours!  The whiskey sour gets a bad name due to the preponderance of the pre-made sour mix unfortunately used in so many college bars, dorm rooms and fraternity houses.  A true whiskey sour though balances the sweet and sour tastes as an undertone to the true star of the show, whiskey.  Besides, if they were good enough for your grandma, they are good enough for you!

The sour as a style of drink goes back to the mid 1850s and was covered in Jerry Thomas’ “How to Mix Drinks” in 1862.  I found a crazy tale about an Englishman creating the whiskey sour in Peru in 1872 as reported by an Argentinian newspaper in 1962, but that seems a little far from home for a simple bourbon based drink to come to life.  Fortunately, the famous Wisconsin paper, the Waukesha Plaindealer, mentioned the Whiskey Sour on January 4th 1870; returning this American classic to its rightful home.

I like my whiskey sour heavier on the prior and lighter on the latter so proceed with caution.  This is also one of the few times I have found Colin Field and David Embury in agreement on the proportions.  Start with one ounce of fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice in a shaker.  Add two teaspoons of superfine sugar.  Lastly, add four ounces of your favorite whiskey, Gentleman Jack works for me.  This is only the second time I have condoned using them, but the bright red color of maraschino cherries shows through the drink like a ruby red setting sun, place three of them in an old fashioned glass then fill with ice. Fill the shaker with ice and give it a good shake to make sure the sugar dissolves.  Strain into the ice filled glass and serve.  I have been asked about building it in the glass instead of shaking the drink; it can be done this way, but the shaking better dissolves the sugar and adds a slight froth from the agitation which I think makes for a better drink.  You can also add a dash or two of bitters to this drink if you are feeling adventurous!

Whiskey Sour
4 oz whiskey
1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp superfine sugar
Combine all ingredients with ice in a shaker, strain into an ice filled old fashioned glass.

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