One of the most classic cocktails in existence is the whiskey sour, whose creation was over 150 years ago. Though whiskey sours comprise only three core ingredients (whiskey, citrus, and sugar), they continue to evolve. Bourbon is cited in most original recipes, but some highly regarded twists include rye and even scotch.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal taste. Do you like sweet or spicy or do you prefer less traditional flavors like black tea and vanilla? To help you find your new go-to drink, we’ve put together a list of the very best whiskeys for whiskey sours across a range of flavor profiles. Read on for an essential guide to some of the best whiskeys for this classic cocktail.
With a hint of citrus and candied toffee notes, Buffalo Trace is one of the best whiskeys for whiskey sours. Whether you opt for the egg white or not, this classic bourbon holds up—though there’s a strong case to be made for the latter. According to Karen Fu, beverage director of Donna Cocktail Club, adding egg whites are “a good way to experience that texture and foam and mouthfeel that sours call for.”
While most traditional whiskey sours are crafted with bourbon, rye has become a favorite among mixologists and bar-goers in recent years. As one of the smoothest ryes on the market, Templeton showcases rye’s natural sweetness but is spicy and earthy enough to stand up to the sugar and lemon.
Steeped in over 200 years of tradition (and as complex as it is presentable), Basil Hayden’s is an ideal choice for whiskey purists. This go-to bourbon carries subtle notes of black tea and peppermint and is ideal for crafting a refreshing and sophisticated whiskey sour.
Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve
For those looking to stray off the beaten path, a scotch-based whiskey sour is well worth giving a try. Highlighting the smokiness of scotch as well as the oak, vanilla, and honeyed finish of bourbon, this surprisingly well-priced scotch creates a rich and earthy whiskey sour.
Four Roses has long been one of the most versatile bourbons for mixed cocktails, so it should come as no surprise that it’s one of the best whiskeys for whiskey sours. Smooth and spicy with a bit of a bite, this respectable yet affordable bourbon is perfect for ordering out or enjoying at home.
How to Make a Whiskey Sour
2 oz. bourbon
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup (or 1 tsp. fine sugar)
1 egg white (optional)
Shake all ingredients twice, first without ice and then with ice. Double-strain over ice, then garnish with a cherry and an orange peel. Top with a dash of Angostura bitters.
Ready the Bar
This post was originally published on December 24, 2017, and has since been updated.